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Our Mission

We are dedicated to providing the highest quality Arts education and experiences to children in the most economically stressed neighborhoods of southern California, thereby enhancing self-esteem, creativity, literacy, social and academic skills while strengthening the health and vitality of the children and their community. City Hearts inspires a love of the Arts, an appreciation of creative discipline, and respect for the creative process, enabling children and youth to be confident, imaginative, tolerant, generous and cooperative, as well as caring and contributing participants in the global community.

Our History

Established in 1984 by former-ballerina-turned-criminal-defense-attorney Sherry Jason and her husband attorney Bob Jason, City Hearts was founded on the belief that the arts can and do help rehabilitate troubled youth who are plagued by drugs and gangs. City Hearts is now an integral part of the prevention and rehabilitation efforts in Los Angeles' inner city. The program is a model for youth diversion programs nation-wide. City Hearts currently reaches 500 at-greatest-risk youth each week.

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Timeline

1981

Sherry Jason leaves full-time law practice with Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office to create ballet for Topanga School and Performing Company. She continues as attorney and advocate for children's rights.

1984

City Hearts founded by former-ballerina-turned-criminal-defense-attorney Sherry Jason and her husband Bob who met in the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office in 1977.

1985

City Hearts program begins with three classes for 60 children from 9th Street School.

1992

The Jasons meet with law enforcement and juvenile justice officials to launch "Sentenced To The Stage," a program giving youthful offenders the option of taking City Hearts classes as a condition of probation to satisfy community service hours. The Jasons meet with the Seattle, Washington Juvenile Justice Committee for guidance on expanding City Hearts programs. They subsequently found "The Alder Studios: Youth in Arts" a separate IRS 501(c)(3).

1993

"From Gangs to the Stage," the City Heart's program serving incarcerated youth in Los Angeles County is begun.

Production of "Slipping Into Darkness" lauded by the Los Angeles Times.

1994

Office of Criminal Justice Planning awards City Hearts a two-year grant. The "Youth Arts Diversion" program continues City Hearts work with at-risk youth.

City Hearts counselor Dr. Holly Barrett, Ph.D. begins study on the effects of the arts as a diversion to at-risk youth.

"Sentenced To The Stage" participants create theater company named "City Dreamers: City Hearts Youth Theater". Premiere production in March. San Diego Juvenile Court Presiding Judge William Pate asks the Jasons to help create "Sentenced To The Stage" in San Diego.

1996

June - "For Girls Only" curriculum launched with special workshop and classes. December - City Hearts named in the President's Committee on The Arts and Humanities Report, "Coming Up Taller" (one of only 200 organizations listed nationwide) "Juvenile Crime Prevention Grant" created with Para Los Ninos and Office of Child Abuse Prevention providing after school classes for children ages 6-17 and first-time offenders diversion programs.

City Hearts recognized by the National Council On Crime and Delinquency honored with their annual Prevention for a Safer Society (PASS) Award.

1997

City Hearts creates and implements ALITE (Arts and Literacy for Tomorrow's Education) which serves multiple learning styles. City Hearts teachers are trained to bring this creative method to their classes.City Hearts provides a free Summer Camp of the Arts providing over 1000 children, ages 5-11, with daily arts classes.

1998

Sherry and Bob Jason and City Hearts receive the inaugural "Sunny Days Award" presented by Sesame Street Parent's Magazine and Children's Television Network-one of 8 national recipients and only arts organization honored.

City Hearts free Summer Camp of the Arts for 1000 children ages 5-11.

City Hearts profiled on CNN Classroom and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

City Hearts' Youth Mentor Program is featured in Newsweek Magazine's business publication.

1999

The Shakespeare Challenge begins as a part of the ALITE Program. Shakespeare classes teach literacy enhancement with an in-depth study of Shakespeare's plays.

Photography program begins for youth on probation in Van Nuys and downtown Los Angeles.

2000

City Hearts honored as one of ten organizations in the country-and the only organization in California-chosen to receive "Conflict Resolution Through The Arts" training supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Department of Justice.

One year anniversary of highly successful "Expanding Horizons" Shakespeare Challenge program in Oxnard.

2001

Oxnard Shakespeare students featured on Channel 3 news.

2004

Photography/Literacy project based on the work of Edmund Teske is piloted.

City Hearts 20th Annual Summer Camp of the Arts is held.

2006

Contacted by Elvira Gonzalez, a student from City Hearts' first year, to express her gratitude. She was then a college graduate going into law school. City Hearts featured her at the 2006 Harvest fundraiser.

2010

City Hearts reviewed on L.A. Talk Radio, featured in Family Magazine, Malibu Magazine, and U.S. Weekly.

Founders Bob and Sherry Jason awarded Citizens of the Year Award by the Topanga Chamber of Commerce for their contributions to children in the community.

2011

City Hearts received the Venice Neighborhood Youth Association's Agency Partner Honoree, a community service award for education and cultural enrichment impact on the lives of at-risk children.

2012

City Hearts' Anti-Bullying Through City Hearts initiative highlighted in the Hollywood Reporter, The Advocate, The Examiner, and The Washington Times.

Founder Sherry Jason interviewed on KNX Radio's Business Hour on the subject of "Non-Profits in Today's Economy."

2015

Founder Sherry Jason interviewed on CBR Radio on the topic "Women Who Make A Difference."

Founders Bob and Sherry Jason honored in the book Talent for Humanity, an international publication featuring the inspirational stories of 7 people who directed their art talents to help humanity.

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