ASK (After School at the Klein) named recipient of 2015 Turbo Award

Harvard Business School Community Partners announced that the Klein Memorial Auditorium Foundation’s innovative after school program has been named the recipient of their 2015 Turbo Award. The award and $20,000 grant is given each year to a Fairfield County non-profit for its educational and cultural services that positively impact the cultural and business sectors in the community.

The award ceremony was held at New Country Porsche of Greenwich on June 3. Laurence A. Caso, executive director of the Klein says, “We are extremely proud and honored by this distinctive recognition of ASK. We’ve built a tuition-free program in a safe and fun environment that fills a need. At each concert it is not only gratifying to see the talent that emerges onstage, but also the enthusiastic participation of the families and friends who attend. That’s what builds a stronger community. We’d like to triple our enrollment within the next few years and expand our curriculum to also perhaps include classes in stagecraft and technical production that could give interested students a foundation that might even lead to them having professional careers post-graduation. This award will help us reach further toward those goals. Our profoundest thanks go to HBSCP for their generosity. ”

ASK (After School at the Klein) is the cornerstone of the Klein’s education and outreach efforts. Its mission, in partnership with four other non-profits (KEYS: Kids Empowered by Your Support, New Paradigm Theatre, True Spark and The Lighthouse Program) is to provide tuition-free instruction in music, dance, drama and acting for the camera to Bridgeport students in grades 7 through 12. A top-notch staff comprised of Broadway, television and film performing artists as well as experienced local arts educators provide their expertise. Over 60 students attend classes three days each week throughout the school year. According to Karl Gasteyer, director of education at the Klein, “ASK fosters a vibrant, supportive creative environment through daily positive interaction between talented students and caring adults.”

In February, six Bridgeport students enrolled in the ASK (After School at the Klein) program drove to Harlem and waited in the rain to audition for the legendary “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” This is the same contest where Ella Fitzgerald was discovered. Recently the students got the call that they not only passed the audition, but now performed at the Apollo on June 24th. The dancers include: Kirya Brown, Jaimie Gonzales, Sahara Lewis, Janaea McLean, and Stephanie Naar. Their instructors are two local educators, Tiffany Wilson and Walter Armstead and two student interns from Housatonic Community College, Shelly Clark and Whitney Lucky.

ASK is funded through other grant sources, such as the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Fairfield County Community Foundation, as well as through contributions from individuals and corporations. In addition to staging two semester ending concerts each year, the Klein seeks opportunities for ASK students to perform at community events. Already they have appeared in Bridgeport’s Barnum and Columbus Day parades, as well as at Port 5 in Black Rock and at downtown Bridgeport’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony. In June a group of ASK students marched and danced in the Juneteenth Parade and the Barnum Parade. They have also been invited to perform at McLevy Square this summer as part of the “Summer Recess” series conducted by Bridgeport’s Downtown Special Services District.

For more information about the Klein and ASK, contact: Laurence A. Caso, executive director, 203-337-6195, [email protected]; or Karl Gasteyer, director of education, 800-424-0160, [email protected]

Klein board members Ed Katz (left) and Maureen Hamill (right) with Executive Director Laurence Caso and Director of Education Karl Gasteyer.

Klein board members Ed Katz (left) and Maureen Hamill (right) with Executive Director Laurence Caso and Director of Education Karl Gasteyer.

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