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Youth Dance Program

The DEAEF Youth Dance Program (DEAEF YDP), a part of the DEA Educational Foundation, was established to empower kids by providing a free and positive after-school alternative to drug abuse through the fun, healthy, and expressive art form of dance. Now in its ninth year, the DEAEF YDP continued to grow and expand in 2020 due to continued efforts through the “One Step at a Time” campaign, reaching new communities through the partnership with National Programming, DEA’s 360 Strategy, youth summits, special events and more.

In 2012, the DEA Educational Foundation acquired the DEAEF YDP and it began its pilot year. The program is supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration and their field offices throughout the country. The DEAEF YDP has grown to be one of the most successful after-school dance programs in the United States positively influencing thousands of students each year by providing the healthy outlet of dance. Jill Roberts, founder and director of the DEAEF YDP is a former professional dancer and authority in after-school programs and drug education. Ms. Roberts won the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2009, in part, because of the dance program and her commitment to kids.

The DEAEF YDP begins at a participating school with an assembly led by a professional dance company. The professional company demonstrates different styles of dance to appropriate musical choices, speaks to the students as role models, and asks student volunteers to try out movement during the performance hour. Students then may elect to register for a free 20-week dance class series led by a professional dance instructor. At the end of the series, students perform in a community or school performance setting, bringing family and other students together. Finally, students are encouraged to apply for scholarships at a local studio for long-term study in dance. Students targeted to participate in the program are primarily in upper elementary and middle school years. The program curriculum incorporates the DEA Educational Foundation’s anti-drug messages and themes such as: participating in positive alternatives to drugs and gang violence, the building of self-esteem, teamwork, resisting negative peer pressure, and focusing on positive health and attitude.

In 2020, the DEAEF YDP expanded to over 50 cities with over 3,000 students participating in long-term dance classes and over 100,000 students and community members viewing assemblies conducted by professional dance companies where they learn about healthy activities, behaviors and attitude, and focusing on their dreams.

Program Staff

Jill L. Roberts

President & CEO

Cristine Dhimos

Regional Director - DEAEF Youth Dance Program NY, NJ, MA, NH, TN, WV, ME, VA and FL

Kelly Kuder

Assistant Regional Manager - DEAEF YDP for IL, MD, MI, PA, VA, and DC

Jodi Obeid

Regional Manager - DEAEF YDP for OH and PA

Christina Pastras

Associate Director - DEAEF Youth Dance Program

National Youth Program Consultant
Regional Manager for NJ, LA, MO, KS and PA

Allison Tanaka

Regional Manager - DEAEF YDP for AZ, CA, NV and TX

Meredith Liepelt

Evaluations and Media

Michèle Morris

Training Director - DEAEF Youth Programs

Regional Manager DEAEF YDP - UT, WA, and NM

2020–2021 Dance Companies

  • Artivism Dance

  • Ballet Legato

  • CDance Company

  • Culture Shock Chicago

  • Culture Shock D.C.

  • Culture Shock Los Angeles

  • Culture Shock Las Vegas Dancing Earth

  • Extraordinary Futures

  • Footworks

  • Granite State Dance Company

  • Hamilton County Dept. of Ed

  • Hip Hop ConnXion

  • Hip Hop Fundamentals

  • Innergy Dance Company

  • Lessons by Lexe

  • Moving Arts Española

  • Maureen Bersuder Dance Company

  • New Ballet Ensemble

  • Passamoquoddy Youth and Rec Center Instructors

  • Polynesian Association of Alaska

  • Rainbow Tribe

  • River City Youth Ballet

  • The Rock School For Dance Education’s Rock Reach Program

  • Samba Fogo

  • Studio Kin

  • Taos Dance Academy

  • and many individual professional artists from New York City and around the country

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