The B-Smart Program is the dynamic collaboration between the ASPIRE program of the Bethlehem Area School District and the Banana Factory. For the past eight years economic and academically disadvantaged students have had total access to high quality arts instruction at the Banana Factory at absolutely no cost to them or their school. The program includes middle school students from Broughal, East Hills, Nitschmann and Northeast middle schools and the student body is primarily Latino or African American.

Students enrolled in the ASPIRE program complete an hour of academic intervention at their school after classes end. Afterwards the students can choose to go the Banana Factory where they are expertly guided to develop their creative side while learning how to work with others. Banana Factory instructors act more as mentors than traditional teachers. The students develop relationships that are meaningful, learn how to respect authority and celebrate the community in which they live.

B-Smart runs for 20 weeks during the school year with a special 4-week summer camp. The students chose from a menu that included pottery, jewelry, sculpture, digital photography, video game design and hot glass. In 2008-09 school year, the program gave 293 students the opportunity to work in a safe, creative and positive environment after school.

The latest statistics from a blind sampling of 50 of our students show that:

B-Smart's Impact

Blind sampling of B-Smart students has consistently shown that the program has a positive impact on the learning environment. The most recent B-Smart assessment revealed:

  • 77% maintained a higher GPA while enrolled

  • 90% were introduced to new technology
  • Almost 50% achieved Honor Roll
  • 34% were absent less from school because of B-Smart
  • 81% were able to create projects from start to finish
  • 93% said they established job skills and a sense of responsibility
  • 83% said they had increased self esteem
  • 95% felt they had created a portfolio of work from their time in the program.
  • 100% reported that the Banana Factory was a safe and fun place to be after school

Support of B-Smart

B-Smart is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The program, which is a qualified program under the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, is also made possible through donations from corporations and private donors.

Although ArtsQuest receives funding for this educational initiative, the program is always in need of additional support. Any individual or business interested in supporting B-Smart and making a difference in young people's lives is invited to contact:

Kassie Hilgert
ArtsQuest Vice President of Advancement

Brenda Pisani
Director of Corporate Relations

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