Out-of-School Programs

Overview of Out-of-School Programs

City Lore’s Out of School programs provide youth the opportunity to explore their interests and develop a variety of skills through unique arts-based after-school and summer programs. Our project-oriented programs are non-traditional, where mentors and teaching artists work closely with a cohort of students. Through a cultural lens, our responsive curriculum is integrated with student-driven interests to create an environment where participants are empowered and inspired to create socially engaged art. While practicing radical inclusion, participants commit to a fulfilling and rigorous experience where they meet high expectations and their full potential through art making and advocacy projects. The majority of our programs offer stipends, where participants are exposed to professional development, guest artists, field trips, and college portfolio- and resume-building experiences. 

Interested in collaborating with City Lore on out of school arts programming?  We work with partners to design high-quality community-based learning experiences for youth. Please contact: 

Current programs include Summer Rising 2021 and Urban Explorers.

Urban Explorers

Urban Explorers, an After School and Summer Program

Education Initiative with City Lore supported by The Pinkerton Foundation

Youth Program Manager, Founder and Coordinator: Raquel Almazan

URBAN EXPLORERS is a summer and after school program that serves high school students. The program introduces students to a variety of art mediums (documentation skills, dance, music, oral history, drumming, hip hop art practices and visual art mediums) through the social inquiry of the Lower East Side that includes field trips, while being responsive to the interests of students. The program engages young people in exploring, documenting, interpreting, and advocating for people and places in their communities and city. Students gain skills in using documentary tools, including audio and video recording, photography, and interviewing. Working in small groups they will create documentaries or interpretive artworks about their chosen subjects.

 Academic career counseling, interview techniques, recommendation letters and a certificate of completion of the Urban Explorers program. Equipment and art supplies will be provided. There will be culminating works in progress presentation as well as a final showing of original work created.

 * Key student interns assisted City Lore staff and teaching artists throughout the program hours.

As a new program Urban Explorers was funded for three years of programming October 2018 through June  2021. During all semesters, themes based on identity, social justice and response to current events are explored. Advocacy arose as a major connective tool for young people in the development of the program.

  • #ExploreMe – exploring the identity of young people through exercises and art making tools.
  •  #ExploreWe- exploring the identity of a community- cultures and its societal conditions, including responding to the coronavirus pandemic; including the Lower East Side.
  •  #ExploreAdvocacy- exploring the intersection of arts and activism and how their work serves as a tool for social awareness and change.

The student body created multi-disciplinary works in relationship to the themes, places and people of the Lower East Side as well as themes selected by the students.

The student body created multi-disciplinary works in relationship to the themes, places and people of the Lower East Side as well as themes selected by the students. 

  1.  Documentary Group of students receive video production skills to create new short films. Previous films will be expanded upon and screened. (interview techniques, shooting and editing training in documentary filmmaking). Submission to film festivals.
  2. Visual Arts Group of students receive visual arts techniques in concept creation, drawing, craft making and painting techniques in order to complete a project.
  3. Music Production Group of students learn music collaboration to create digital music files that include lyric writing, song composition, singing to contribute to the documentary film scores.
  4. Playwriting/performance Group participate in a workshop process and performance of short plays written by participants in combination with performing excerpts

2018-2021 Facilitators and Guest Speakers:

Youth Program Manager-Director and Main Facilitator: Raquel Almazan

Program Assistant and Documentation – Joseph Gurbo

Music Production, Spoken word: Baba Israel, Grace Galu, 

Guest Music Artists: Toni Blackman, Haleh Liza and Brandon Webster, Sinuhue Padilla 

Visual Arts: Angel Lopez, Eva Pedriglieri, Moana Love, Ken Fury

Guest Visual Artists: Karl Orozco, Eric Escalante, Fernando Lechon, Benjamin Rojas

Dance: Ken Fury

Documentary: Suzette Burton and Mei Kazama

Theatre: Raquel Almazan and Mailyn Torres  

Urban Explorers Media

Discover more of the wonderful work created by City Lore’s Urban Explorers by checking out the full playlist below for more documentaries, theater, music, visual arts, and poetry!
More samples on the City Lore Education Media Page.

Summer Rising

Summer Rising is New York City’s free summer plan for any child in grades K-12 who wants to participate.

Program Overview

  • Summer Rising will be available throughout the City to every New York City student, including students with disabilities.
  • All programs will be run by local school leaders and trusted community-based organizations.
  • Summer Rising programs are full day and in-person experiences.
  • All programs will create a bridge back to school in the fall and give parents peace of mind as they return to work.
  • The environment will be safe and supportive. Staff members are prepared to respond to children’s social and emotional needs.
  • Summer programs will offer academic support, arts, recreation, and social-emotional support.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and a snack will be served to each student.

For more information on the program: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/summer

Kickflip Program

Program Overview

Kickflip is an interest‐driven, connected learning program designed to impact teen skateboarders for whom school is often not a safe or constructive learning environment. The program was developed through a partnership between City Lore and the Harold Hunter Foundation and funded by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund of the New York Community Trust. Additional partners have included Reelworks Teen Filmmaking and Parsons School of Design.



You can read our guiding principles for engaging hard to reach youth in digital media training programs here. Please view the playlist of digital materials from the Kickflip program here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7YzHJ46Sy4&list=PL4slyQodoIv3QkeF15ipPWRi-UYbvWZY7

Digital Comics

Program Overview

Digital Comics is a model replicable unit plan that engages youth in designing, scripting, drawing, coloring, and laying out augmented reality comics that explore a social issue that is important to students. The engaging curriculum was written and drawn by one of the students in the class, Jade Weaver. View Comics Books for Social Change curriculum.

In 2015-2016, City Lore staff and artists worked with fifteen high school students and their faculty advisor who attend the Art and Design High School in Manhattan one afternoon a week for five weeks to design and create augmented reality interactive and GIF-based comic books that address social issues. Students worked with teaching artist George Zavala to identify and explore social issues that are important to them, then they worked with an experienced comic book artist and educator, Ivan Velez, who mentored them to script, design, and layout a comic book page that conveys their ideas about the social issue they chose. Filmmaker Ram Devineni was present for four of the sessions to examine and discuss examples of digital comics and to suggest ways to design comics to take advantage of their augmented reality potential. In the last two sessions of the project, students worked with filmmaker Devineni, whose digital comic Priya’s Shakti inspired the project, to turn their comic page into animated GIFs using Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker and augmented reality pages using Blippar’s free AR software and APP.


Our objectives were to:

  1. Create a model program that engages youth in designing, scripting, drawing, coloring, and layout of augmented reality comics that explore a social issue that is important to them.
  2. Create an environment where youth participants feel safe and free to share and creatively express their ideas and concerns about particular social issues with their peers and adult mentors.
  3. Test the model with adult mentors/teaching artists and youth and get feedback from all participants and instructors to refine the program model and document the process and products that students create in order to share the program design and tools with other groups and instructors who work with teens throughout New York City.

Our long-range goal is also to create a program model and tools can be easily replicated and implemented in schools, community centers, and venues anywhere in New York City, and around the world. The model is not dependent on students’ drawing skills. Students should feel comfortable scripting personal stories and drawing comic books that address social issues that affect them and others.

Cultural After School Adventures programs (CASA)

Program Overview

Cultural After School Adventures programs (CASA) provide in depth arts and cultural experiences through artist residencies taught by City Lore’s experienced artist educators. Residency programs are designed to support the New York City Blueprints for the Arts, New York State Standards for the Arts, and grade level academic objectives. City Lore’s CASA programs offer instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater. Previous workshops have included instruction in Storytelling through West African Drumming and Dance and Storytelling through Mexican Dance. CASA programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

2016 CASA Program with P.S. 274 in Bushwick, Brooklyn

City Lore Teaching Artists Harold Akyeampong and Yahaya Kamate

Storytelling Arts of West Africa introduces students to traditional arts of West Africa: oral storytelling, drumming and percussion, dance, and song. Taught by dance artist born in Cote d’Ivoire, Yahaya Kamate, and a drummer and storyteller born in Ghana, Harold Akyeampong, students learn traditional Anansi folktales from West African cultures and retell those stories through different art forms. They also learn about the cultural and community contexts in which traditional stories and arts are created and performed. The program culminates in a program where students to perform what they have learned for an audience.

Bring to Light

Program Overview

In 2011, a group of Youth Poets from Urban Word participated in a series of workshops in which they developed poems about place and learned how to use the image remixing program Modul8. The culminating multimedia exhibit transformed their written words into an artistic display of light projections to accompany their spoken word performance and occurred at the Bring to Light Festival on October 1, 2011 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Bring to Light is an annual free nighttime event that brings together artists from around the globe to build site-specific, mainly light-based art installations.

Bring to Light is a collaboration between City Lore and Urban Word funded through the Hive Learning Project.