Virtual education event inspires Women’s Giving Network

The Wake County Women’s Giving Network hosted its first-ever virtual education event in June and it was a resounding success.

Staff members of The Gifted Arts that empowers 3rd – 12th grade students in after-school performing arts programs participated in an online panel discussion to an audience of 28 WGN members. The Gifted Arts received a $20,000 grant for its GiftedImpact program in 2019 and was eager to share the impact of their programs with the group.

While the Zoom meeting provided the virtual connection, The Gifted Arts founders, Nichole and CJ Morgan easily provided the emotional connection to their work through their passionate dialogue about emboldening young people to become confident leaders. The Gifted Arts is not just an arts program, it offers hope, promise and interpersonal skills that change lives.

Nichole and CJ shared how meaningful the mission is to so many vulnerable youth in Garner and Southeast Raleigh. They shared data that highlighted the success of the programs and quotes that underscored that the students felt safe, seen and celebrated.

There were amazing testimonials from Kate, the intervention specialist, and Alexis, their math teacher, about the personal growth and changes they witnessed in the student’s self-confidence, relationship skills and academic development.

Why does the Gifted Arts exist? Because there are gaps in larger systems, especially in education, which only focus on achievement and outcomes.

The Gifted Arts focuses on social-emotional learning competencies. The arts are a vehicle which helps youth take risks, become vulnerable and grow confidence.

The unique programming is based on The Gifted Arts ‘Four Movements:’ critical thinking, literacy, presentation and professionalism and encourages students to tap into their creativity.

Students of the academy are transformed through dance, drama, fashion and music programming that build skills in leadership, communication, teamwork and problem-solving.

The most impactful speaker was Arianna, a graduate of The Gifted Arts. She is currently a 10th grader. She said the program taught her how to live with confidence day in and day out, how to use critical thinking, how to set standards and be accountable.

She saw that all of the youth got “equity” in the program, they were met where they were with their individual challenges.

She wanted to drop out of the program but CJ would not let her, just stay in for six weeks he said.  She did, and she participated in a theatrical performance at the Burning Coal Theater.

Nicole said she was a star! Now Arianna has come back to the program, as a mentor to others.

In the midst of a global pandemic, social distancing and Zoom fatigue the WGN members found inspiration in the great work The Gifted Arts program is accomplishing.

WGN is so grateful to them for empowering youth to become talented leaders in the local community and beyond.