El Arco Iris


El Arco Iris is an after school program sponsored by Nueva Esperanza in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The organization encourages the youth of Holyoke to explore there creativity via after school programs such as photography courses and tutoring. The mission of El Arco Iris is to utilize the arts and other activities to enhance the development of young people, increase their appreciation of arts and culture and to engage youth in improving their community.

The program serves youth ages nine to nineteen and is free of charge. There are five general program areas:

Arts and cultural appreciation
Includes art, ceramics, poetry, photography, dance, martial arts, and computer graphics classes. There are also cultural field trips and public exhibits of the youths art and performances.

Youth leadership and empowerment
Offers the youth trainings in team building, communication skills, empowerment and leadership, planning events, presenting in public, teen dating/pregnancy prevention, violence, HIV/AIDS, and how to be a role model. The youth also help to evaluate and plan the program and assist with program events.

A Community Service Learning project
Teaches young people about neighborhood planning and citizenship and involves its participants in using the arts to improve their community. The youth design and do projects which improve the physical environment and improve the quality of life of neighborhoods.

Tutoring and homework assistance
Revives the participants enthusiasm towards learning and support their success in school. The program also offers college/career workshops for the youth to develop plans for going on to college or a career. Comprised of outgoing, enthusiastic, and inspiring individuals, the El Arco Iris Tutoring Program is committed to fostering and enriching the talents, skills, and attitudes of Holyoke youth so that they may better impact their communities. Working closely with José Colon, the director of the El Arco Iris Youth and Community Arts Center, students travel twice a week to Holyoke MA, an urban, working-class, and predominately Puerto Rican community, where they both mentor and interact with children ranging from 5-17 years of age. Amherst tutors often leave program having built strong relationships with the children and finding their experiences both rewarding and fulfilling.

Recreational programming
Includes activities such as basketball, volleyball, games and bicycling. The youth also go on recreational field trips such as bowling, roller skating, and outdoor parks.