The Cultural Academy for Excellence (“CAFE”), established in 1996, award-winning, music-based academic and life-skills enrichment program.
CAFE started in 1996 as an enticement for youth to stay in school, stay out of trouble and perform well academically. Research revealed the history of Caribbean cultures successfully implementing early intervention for at-risk teens by blending the therapeutic aspect of percussion and the aesthetic lure of the melodic SteelPan. CAFE’s founder and staff applied this proven theory of intervention to the program design.
Over the years, CAFE has provided more than 500 youths and 100 adults with culturally-based enrichment activities facilitated by professional musicians and teachers. On Saturdays, CAFE offers Academic Tutoring and Music classes, using the SteelPan (of ‘pan’) as the primary instrument, as well as Visual Arts and Chess. The curriculum incorporates the Maryland State Department of Education’s standards for music instruction as set forth in Essential Learner Outcomes for Fine Arts. It offers pan lessons during weeknights to adults and youth and also holds a three-week Summer Music Camp. In addition to Academic and Music classes, CAFE sponsors one of the only “After-school” Mock Trial teams in Prince Georges County and offer opportunities for debate competitions, and MathCounts competitions.
CAFE serves predominantly African American students representing a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, ages 7 to 18, from as far away as Baltimore County and Northern Virginia. Through CAFE’s activities these youth realize their creative potential and expand their success into social achievement. Program components include:
CAFE has received honors for its program, including Outstanding Service and Commitment to Youth (2008), Outstanding After-School Programming Award (2008 & 2006), and Outstanding Delivery of Service Award and Community Collaboration Award (2007). It was selected as one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington (DC) region by the Catalog for Philanthropy (2007 – 2008) and was selected by the Harmon Family Foundation to present a concert in honor of Martin Luther King’s Birthday at its Shakespeare Theatre (DC, 2009).