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

Kiera Anderson

Assistant to the President & CEO and National Project Consultant

Cristine Dhimos

Regional Director – DEAEF Youth Dance Program NY, NJ (Newark & Jersey City), MA, NH, TN (Knoxville), WV (Charleston), and FL

Kelly Kuder

IL, MD, MI, MO, NJ (Ocean & Atlantic), PA (Kennett Square), VA, Washington DC Metro and WI Regional Manager

Jodi Obeid

Regional Manager – DEAEF YDP for OH, PA

Christina Pastras

Associate Director – DEAEF Youth Dance Program, National Youth Program Consultant, Regional Manager for NJ (Camden), LA (New Orleans) and PA (Philadelphia)

Allison Tanaka

CA and AZ Regional Manager

Meredith Liepelt

Evaluation, Community Service, Media and Project Consultant

Michèle Morris

Training Director – DEAEF Youth Programs

Regional Manager DEAEF YDP – Utah, Washington, Nevada

2019–2020 Dance Companies

  • 4th Avenue Arts

  • 5 6 7 8 Dance!

  • Allegro Dance

  • Artivism Dance

  • Ballet Legato

  • Bridget’s Dance Academy

  • Culture Shock Chicago

  • Culture Shock D.C.

  • Culture Shock Los Angeles

  • Culture Shock Las Vegas

  • Footworks

  • Hip Hop ConnXion

  • Hip Hop Fundamentals

  • Houston Ballet

  • Lyn’s Dance Academy

  • Extraordinary Futures

  • Maureen Bersuder Dance Company

  • New Ballet Ensemble

  • Nimbus Dance Works

  • On the One Dance Company

  • Port Huron Physical Arts Center

  • River City Youth Ballet

  • The Rock School for Dance

  • Education’s RockReach Program

  • Samba Fogo

  • Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center

  • University Dance

  • Many individual professional artists from New York City and across the country.