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History:

Class – ACT (Class – Arts, Children & Technology, Inc.) was established in 1998 under the umbrella of a local arts organization, and gained its own independent non-profit status in 2002. For its first ten years it provided school children with curriculum-based art programs in the areas of music, theatre, dance, fine arts, puppetry, creative writing, storytelling, and computer technology as it applies to the arts, giving children key educational advantages that are developed through the process of creativity. Art programs were coordinated in collaboration with school officials and a local artist who presented a standards-based sequential series of classroom art workshops to assist teachers in meeting the required art standards. Students were inspired with hands-on art instruction one hour per week during a six to ten week period, after which a presentation of the students’ accomplishments would be presented to parents, friends and community members.

In 2008 the organization started its global outreach component called the Children's Global Art Exchange, designed to support arts education for adopted classrooms in a developing world country, and create a link with children in our own community. Our local school art programs incorporate a fundraising component and then link the local classroom of children with those in the adopted classroom where we fund school supplies, school art projects and other educational needs. This outreach component lead us to schools in Cambodia, where we now manage several support links.

Inspired by board members visiting the Cambodian schools in October of 2009, Class-ACT started another program to assist the families connected to those schools - a microlending program, Microloans For Mothers. It provides small loans to low-income mothers enabling them to start a simple business that can generate extra income for their families. The program issued its first five loans in November of 20010, and within a year grew to serve 35 clients. Women receive an initial loan of $100 to start or improve upon a home business. The loan is paid back over a six-month period, after which the mother can apply for a larger loan. To date 100% of the loans have been repaid. Mothers are organized in "loan groups" of five members that meet weekly for business training, fellowship, payment of loan installments, and deposits to their individual savings accounts. Staff in Cambodia prepare a monthly progress report on each mother's business. By helping mothers with capital to start their own businesses, the program enables low-income women to take a proactive role in creating a more promising future for themselves and their families.

The Microloans For Mothers program in Cambodia continues to expand and make a real difference for many families there. So much so that Class-ACT's board of directors decided to expand it further to now also include women in the local San Diego County area.

Organizational Detail:

Class-ACT has been a viable organization serving the community since its inception in 1998. We have secured support from many organizations, businesses and individuals, as well as major city, county and state funding. Programming has increase steadily throughout our history. The local arts education component has grown from 10 classrooms served in our first year to 150 classrooms served in our tenth year, which represents service to approximately 18,000 children - each receiving six to ten hours of art contact. Also, when considering the many performances done by children, the impact of our programming has extended beyond the classroom and into the community, touching the lives of many more estimated to be an additional 10,000 to 15,000 parents, friends and neighbors. Programming has brought not only arts and cultural enrichment, but also new technology skills that enhance academic excellence. Adding the components of the Children's Global Art Exchange and Microloans For Mothers has been met by great enthusiasm in the local community.

The executive director of Class-ACT, Niels Lund, holds a California teaching credential and two university degrees in Education Administration. He is well known in the local business and education communities through years of volunteer work, and has wide knowledge and experience in Arts Administration and Marketing. He has for many years worked directly with children in the creative field of the performing arts, and founded the San Diego International Children's Festival that served over 50,000 children over a period of six years (1989 - 1995). Mr. Lund is responsible for the management and operation of Class-ACT, securing the artists who provide instruction in the local community, establishing connections with local and developing world schools, and furthering the operation of the Children's Global Art Exchange and Microloans For Mothers.