RockReach is the most expansive dance and movement community outreach program in the Philadelphia region.
RockReach has grown exponentially since its launch in 2000 from serving only 1 in-school Residency to currently serving 21 Philadelphia-area Title 1 public,charter, and parochial schools; it has had as many as 30 Residencies in a single year, which is truly mammoth in comparison to other local community outreach.
The Rock School developed RockReach in response to the dearth of arts programs in Philadelphia public schools. The program seeks to address the inadequacy of arts and physical education where, due to budget constraints, there is little or no arts or physical activity in school and also responds to the need for constructive, goal-oriented, in-school and after-school programs. RockReach targets low-income schools in the School District of Philadelphia and surrounding areas with limited or no physical education and unsafe outdoor play areas. We currently serve grades K-12, predominately African American or Latino; the majority of student body is part of the Title 1 program and is eligible for free or discounted lunches.
RockReach aims to make a significant, long-lasting impact on thousands of at-risk local school children by:
Promoting arts appreciation and offering creative outlets to young students while enriching educational and cultural experiences
Offer healthy physical activity to children, so vital in today's world where they are consumed by digital devices
Providing structured after-school activities and safe spaces for children as alternatives to delinquency during non-school hours
Increasing school attendance rates and improve student behavior
Building self-confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of belonging
Encourage physical activity, analytical thinking, and team building
RockReach in-school and after-school Residencies provide select school children with structured dance and movement training for extended periods of time, approximately 4 hours per week for 36 weeks. The performance-based informative program, Dynamics of Dance, is designed to reach high volumes of inner-city children with an introduction to ballet and dance through assemblies. City Dance identifies a group of talented children with potential to excel in ballet, providing long-term, high-quality training at The Rock School. This scholarship program is awarded to students from poverty-level households, as federally defined. Each year, The Rock School offers Philadelphia-area children the opportunity to see its enchanting holiday production of Nutcracker 1776, providing 1,800 free tickets and transportation to the Merriam Theater. Tickets go to Philadelphia Title 1 public, charter, and parochial school children, giving them an exposure to ballet and the arts that many would not otherwise receive. Additionally, Rock School students perform each summer at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts to an audience of over 8,000 underserved school children.
Evaluations of RockReach occur on a regular basis by Rock School faculty. Instructors work closely with participating school administration to monitor the success of each participant during RockReach activities and academic classes. They look for improved fitness and physical capabilities, increased school attendance, fewer disciplinary problems, and higher GPA. A standardized data form listing measurable outcomes was initiated in 2014 using the President's Fitness Markers (strength, stamina, coordination, balance, flexibility). The basics of posture, the 5 ballet positions, and command of vocabulary is also quantified. Through funding from the William Penn Foundation, The Rock School hired an independent evaluator in 2014 to access the effectiveness of RockReach. The program was first evaluated in 2003, and again in 2009 by the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The findings showed that RockReach was consistent in meeting its goals in raising expectations, building development skills, developing an appreciation for the arts, and providing structured activities in safe settings for young children. Empirical evidence showed an increase in school attendance rates among participants, better grades and analytical thinking, and improved student behavior, motivation, and self-discipline. Data supported an increased awareness of teamwork through developing satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment and self-worth in participants. Additionally, evaluations have been conducted through student interviews before and after Dynamics of Dance presentations and show positive alterations to boys' and girls' gender, race, and age stereotypes associated with ballet as well as an appreciation of dance as a performing art. City Dance has proven to be a positive alternative to delinquency, providing structured after-school activities and safe havens for those students who need it most.