Co-founders Nicholé Montgomery-Boone and Clarence ‘CJ’ Morgan, III, when they were not too much older than their current GiftedArtist students conceptualized TheGifted Arts, Inc. (TGA), in 2007. While in college, Nicholé and CJ were working with a teen program at the YMCA in Virginia that had a low participant count totaling ten members. Over a three year period, they were able to increase enrollment to maxed enrollment of sixty-five under their leadership, in addition to an active waitlist year on year. They accomplished this by designing and implementing a series of project based hands-on activities that included science, the arts, and recreation. In addition, they developed and ran focus groups facilitating discussions on pertinent teen matters and social issues that deeply impact adolescent’s daily lives. Proud of their students’ and personal successes they envisioned what it would be like to replicate this model on a larger scale to serve more students and offer more services.
They used the arts then to teach life skills, confidence, character building, and to just create memorable moments in the lives of our youth. Nicholé and CJ later went on to further their education, explore career opportunities, and cultivate their passion. While working in different educational fields, the founders realized that one of the major forces working against student’s educational success is the belief in their ability to succeed, thus TheGifted Arts was born. TGA was organized in July 2011 from the desire to provide new and improved programs to meet the needs of a targeted population of students; those who are historically underserved and marginalized and do not have access to resources centered on the arts.
The founding team had the desire to provide specialized programs to meet the artistic and educational needs of school age youth. Often times, children are given numerous opportunities to participate in various programs and while these programs provide enrichment and remediation, they often do not cultivate the social, organizational, and personal skills needed to be successful, productive citizens in a globally competitive society. It was their belief that the arts were a viable mechanism to inspire active lifelong learners.
The root of their success is based in a practice of taking risks and learning from failures. The philosophy of TheGifted Arts is that we develop a program that builds on an interest in the arts and then connects the skills learned, like risk-taking, to how one should approach life in the classroom and real-world environments.