Albuquerque
 Albuquerque
Atlanta
 Atlanta
Austin
 Austin
Boston
 Boston
Buick
 Buick
Charleston
 Charleston
Chicago
 Chicago
Dallas
 Dallas
Denver
 Denver
Detroit
 Detroit
Kansas City, MO
 Kansas City, MO
Los Angeles
 Los Angeles
Memphis
 Memphis
Miami
 Miami
Minneapolis
 Minneapolis
Napa
 Napa
New Orleans
 New Orleans
New York
 New York
Oakland
 Oakland
Philadelphia
 Philadelphia
Phoenix
 Phoenix
Pittsburgh
 Pittsburgh
Portland, ME
 Portland, ME
Portland, OR
 Portland, OR
Raleigh-Durham
 Raleigh-Durham
San Diego
 San Diego
San Francisco
 San Francisco
Seattle
 Seattle
Washington, D.C.
 Washington, D.C.
New York

New York

There's nothing you can't do.

Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Leaving Manhattan, Long Island to Sea Cliff.

Bocce Ballin'

Bocce Ballin'

Fun and food, Brooklyn to the Bronx.

Up the River

Up the River

Off the grid, New Paltz to Rhinebeck.

Upstate Utopia

Upstate Utopia

Vintage flavor in Rhinebeck and Phoenicia.

New York City

New York City

Think you know New York? Think again.

Roundtable

Roundtable

One word: Pulse.

Cream of the Crop

Cream of the Crop

Meet the Urban Milkman.

Kimchi Connection

Kimchi Connection

Flavorful inspiration.

Big City Ballet

Big City Ballet

A dancer's guide to Brooklyn.

Fare Game

Fare Game

Through the eyes of a cabbie.

Roundtable

Roundtable

Hidden gems from New York's ultimate insiders.

Pop-Ups and Pickles

Pop-Ups and Pickles

An exlporation of Little Italy and Brooklyn.

The Keys to the City

The Keys to the City

Art, restaurants, and nightlife in New York City.

Social Climbing

Social Climbing

Unexpected recreational activities in Brooklyn.

Earth and Water

Earth and Water

Discover NYC by land and by sail.

Get Involved

Not Just Doing Good. Making a Difference

Get Involved"All the arts are about generosity, giving something back to the public."


Diana Byer, founder and artistic director for the New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB), remembers the dance company's early outreach to homeless children. It was the late 1980s, and the NYTB partnered with New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs to host selected children for breakfast, a ballet lesson and a hot lunch.

"You'd give the kids a taste for a week," she recalls. "What about afterwards?"

It was a question she answered herself, founding a year-round study program for at-risk and homeless children. She named it LIFT.

For more than a decade, she and the NYTB have been dedicated not only to the artistic development of disadvantaged students admitted to the program, but also to lifting them up beyond their circumstances. "It has been a proven thing that studying an art form helps children learn better in school," she says. "All of the kids' grades go up. To learn dance, your mind has to be sharp. It has to be quick."

LIFT's reach goes way beyond the barre, offering clothing, medical services, even mentors for those whose parents are unavailable or uninvolved in their lives. Recently the program placed a boy in private school because he was falling through the cracks in public school. He is currently maintaining a 92 percent average in his schoolwork, Byer says.

Based on auditions held in shelters and other locations, up to 30 children are enrolled in LIFT each year on partial or full scholarship. They attend classes at Ballet School NY, run by Byer and NYTB, though they are not identified as being different from any of the other students.

While some students have gone on to careers in ballet, those who haven't still find support from the company. "It's an ongoing thing," Byer says. "It's not a do-gooder, let's help the child for a year [thing]."

LIFT is always seeking volunteer mentors from the community who can provide adult guidance and support for the children. A mentor, for instance, might make a phone call to a teacher or counselor once a month to see how the child is performing at school and to intervene, when necessary. "It should be someone who wants to do it not to feel good about themselves, but who really cares about the child," Byer says.

Mentors are often part of children's lives even after LIFT. Some students who are now in college are still in touch with their mentors, Byer says.

LIFT also is in need of clothing donations for its students, particularly coats, hats and scarves in the winter.

Most important, however, are monetary donations to fund LIFT and other free programming aimed at underserved shelters and schools throughout New York City. The NYTB's quarterly "breakfast and ballet" event welcomes disadvantaged children and their parents for a hot meal, followed by a ballet performance and a discussion with the dancers and crew. The children learn about all aspects of the theater, but the program also gives them an even rarer opportunity — a chance to spend a day out with their families.

"The kids get so excited because it's not something that's in their lives," Byer says.