Little Lights Arts is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt organization that was incorporated in 2006 with a mission to impact underserved children with biblical principles through the arts and to bring music, visual art, dance and other creative arts into the lives of underserved African – American and Latino children who live in urban areas. Our strategy to reach at-risk children in New York was to offer high-impact, short-term programs in underserved areas like Harlem, Hunts Point, Bronx and Peekskill, New York. Our first program was called the Little Lights Children’s Arts Workshop that served over one hundred children living in the Harlem section of New York City and Peekskill, New York through five distinct program cycles from 2006 to 2013. The program engaged children in singing, drumming and a wide variety of visual art projects that taught key principles from the Bible. Each program ended with a community concert and professional recording session. The Christian Cultural Arts Center received the 2006 Arise and Walk Inner City missions for this program.
In 2008 CCAC launched a successful arts-driven abstinence education program called the Hephzibah Christian Rites of Passage Program for Girls. The program engaged twenty African – American and Latino girls who lived in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx – an area with the second highest teen pregnancy and child prostitution rates in New York City. Through the Hephzibah program, the girls progressed through an effective Christian abstinence education curriculum while enjoying field trips and college preparation workshops. The girls also trained in group vocal lessons, performed at churches and learned sewing, jewelry making and natural hair care through creative workshops. The goal of the program was to prevent and to disrupt the destructive behavioral patterns and low self - esteem in the girls that leads to teen pregnancy. The Hephzibah Rites of Passage Program was successful: all participants are now in college and on the path to graduation. None have engaged in high risk behaviors or have had a teen pregnancy.
In 2012 Little Lights Arts partnered with the Simpson Street Development Association (SISDA) after school program to offer the Hephzibah Girls Workshop to thirty African – American and Latino elementary school aged girls. The Hephzibah Girls Workshop was designed to support high self – esteem, and to teach goal - setting and time - honored lady like values through doll making. The program culminated with a mother / daughter afternoon tea and doll making session. In 2012 Little Lights Arts also opened The Doll House, a body care and accessories pop - up boutique in Peekskill, New York. Local artists created hand-made soaps, body care items, hand bags, jewelry and scarves to sell in support of Little Lights Arts programs. In 2013 Little Lights Arts launched the Sunshine Choir, a professional vocal ensemble for children living in New York City. Members engaged in rigorous vocal training that resulted in stellar performances at community events in New York City. We also culminated the 2013 Little Lights Arts Workshop with a Harlem Children’s Christmas Party. During the party, children from a local homeless shelter made hand-made soap as a Christmas gift for their mothers, made Christmas cards, played games and watched a Christ-centered Christmas movie with snacks. Throughout our time of service in New York, Little Lights Arts also offered In School Arts Programs for elementary students attending public schools in underserved areas of the city.
In 2014 the Board of Directors decided to shift the focus of Little Lights Arts to Washington DC to empower underserved children through the arts in the local metropolitan area, and nationally in urban centers throughout the country. In partnership with JC Nalle Elementary, Little Lights Arts presented the bi-annual Drinking Gourd Festival at Francis Gregory Public Library in 2015. The festival featured a performance of African – American spirituals by JC Nalle music students and an art exhibit that illustrated the Underground Railroad map contained in Follow the Drinking Gourd, a traditional African – American escape song. In May 2016, the Christian Cultural Arts Center will launch a local worship ministry and an abstinence education play and workshop for high school aged girls. In 2018, Little Lights Arts will launch the Hephzibah Christian Rites of Passage Program for Girls as a national program, starting in the mid-Atlantic region to reach girls in Washington DC, Philadelphia Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland.