WORDS Amanda Dobra Hope
Did you know that 170,000 kids in Tennessee are home alone after school lets out for the day? Emerald Mitchell, founder of the after-school non-profit Moves & Grooves, worried about what would become of them without proper guidance, care, and support.
Having grown up in an underserved community herself, Mitchell was fortunate enough to be mentored by an organization in her hometown that continues to serve as a support system for her to this day. What began from Mitchell’s love of dance became a one-stop shop for students’ “home away from home” after school. In addition to dance classes, Moves & Grooves provides healthy snacks, physical exercise, a dance performance team, homework and literacy support, and even steam education and college and career readiness. “We aim to revolutionize the after- school program for young people,” Mitchell explains.
Moves & Grooves previously had their own dance studio and arts space in the Global Mall in Antioch and dedicated spaces in many schools. However, with changing economics and school overcrowding, the organization no longer had a home base, which forced them to disconnect from many of the students they were serving. Though Moves & Grooves still operates in the remaining schools, Mitchell wants to provide the same stability and support for these kids as she received growing up, which is why her number-one goal right now is finding a new home base.
Though Moves & Grooves has always relied heavily on federal grants, Mitchell realized that her program could again be disrupted if that well were to run dry. Enter ART SPLASH, the group’s yearly fundraiser, designed to reach out to the community on a grass-roots level, providing an opportunity for local donors to support their community’s youth.
This year’s ART SPLASH theme, Emerald City, along with the slogan “There’s no place like home,” speaks to their number-one need at this time: a home of their own. ART SPLASH will feature live entertainment, dance performances by Moves & Grooves students (their performance team previously brought home national titles), live painting by local artists, food, a photo booth, a silent auction, and much more. You can also help by purchasing a yellow brick, which will be part of the foundation for the organization’s new building.
ART SPLASH will be held at the Noah Liff Opera Center at 3622 Redmon Street in Nashville on Thursday, March 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.movesandgrooves.org.