WWPR’s nonprofit pro bono client Sitar Arts Center provides children and teens across the District with high-quality, affordable afterschool and summer enrichment opportunities in visual, performing, and digital arts. The community mainstay, which serves more than 900 young people largely from families with low incomes, depends on hundreds of donors to grow and thrive.
That’s why every October Sitar highlights its monthly giving program, Sitar Sustainers. Sitar Sustainers create lasting, year-round change by providing a stable stream of support for the students and programs at Sitar. Sitar Sustainers make a real impact in our city: Surveys of students, alumni, and volunteers show that arts education boosts young people’s self-expression, collaboration, and confidence. And Sitar alumni are more likely to play active roles in their communities. Donating a fixed amount to Sitar every month is the easiest and most effective way to support the students at Sitar as they develop critical thinking and leadership skills through multidisciplinary art classes that help them succeed in life.
“With Sitar, I didn’t have to worry about it,” said musician and arts professional Anjali Lalani, of her continuous monthly donations since 2012. “I knew the money was going to be used well.”
Lalani first learned about Sitar through her master’s in arts management program at American University. “I heard a lot about them, the work they did, their best practices and reliability,” she explained. “I knew about the organization and respected it.”
Lalani had already experienced firsthand the transformative power of the arts for kids while volunteering with a musical theater nonprofit in New York City. There, she witnessed children with limited resources learning to focus, be punctual, and take pride in themselves through lessons in acting, singing, and dancing. “That’s when I really started to connect afterschool arts instruction as a valuable life event with the benefit of more than just something that was fun to do,” Lalani said.
Lalani herself enjoyed ballet and studying classical viola growing up. Her mother, also a musician, grew up with limited resources but was committed to enriching her children’s lives through pursuits ranging from theater to pottery. Lalani’s love of the arts has “been a major part of adding to the quality of my life,” she said. Her artistic inclinations have shaped her career path and hobbies: She works at the National Museum of African American History and Culture as the Smith Fund Interns and Fellows Program Administrator and plays viola in a quartet. “The arts training I had helped me a lot in my regular life, learning skills like discipline and passion.”
Those formative experiences solidified Lalani’s support of Sitar’s mission to bring the arts to diverse Washington, D.C. families and help young people reach their full potential. This month Sitar joins 25,000 national Afterschool Alliance partners in Lights on Afterschool, a national advocacy day that shines a light on the importance of sustainable afterschool programs like Sitar’s. The nearly two decade-old movement unites 1 million Americans in rallies nationwide to guarantee kids have access to quality, affordable afterschool activities.
In Lalani’s view, Sitar is vital to D.C.’s small but vibrant arts scene. Here in Washington, Lalani is grateful for the array of accessible, family-friendly cultural activities—including Sitar: “Sitar is an organization I can give to and feel good about.”
To join the Sitar Sustainers monthly giving community, visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/sitarsustainer.