There are some happy parents and students in the city of Lancaster.
And one of those families is the Larsons. Last Christmas, Melissa bought her 15-year-old son Alec a gift of animation classes at the local Lancaster Community Service Foundation, Inc., helping to fulfill her son’s lifelong dream of one day becoming an animator.
The classes are part of the summer arts education program, “Powered by Edison,” and are partially funded by a $5,000 Edison International grant to help reduce costs for moms and dads. Kids can choose from a variety of classes in dance, floral design, acting, photography and ceramics.
“My son’s lifelong dream is to become an animator and he loves to attend the animation class,” said Melissa. “He wishes they would offer them more days; he would attend the class everyday if he could.”
The grant from Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE), is helping to fund the Lancaster Community Service Foundation’s summer 2014 programs which benefit residents ranging from age two to 73. It is also helping to reduce course fees by 30 percent.
In addition to providing affordable art classes, “Powered by Edison” is also helping to expand youth access to the arts. Classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and to help advance our country,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “Therefore, we focus our educational funding on preparing students to excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and to promote the inclusion of minority, low-income and underrepresented students in these academic fields.
“Also, we recognize that there is a clear connection between the development of critical thinking skills necessary for STEM success and the arts and so we are happy to support arts programs such as the summer arts education program in the city of Lancaster.”
Alec has been attending the foundation’s animation classes for the past two years and the biggest draw for him is its instructor Orlando Baeza, one of the animators for the Emmy Award-winning television series “The Simpsons.”
“I can tell you there are some very happy parents and students in our animation class,” said Baeza. “We have a few kids who want to continue their animation education in college and this class has helped them form a portfolio and gain the experience needed to test for some of these colleges.”
And although Baeza’s day job keeps him busy, he plans to return to teach the animation classes this fall.
The Lancaster Community Service Foundation’s mission is to provide activities that are of interest to the residents of the city through arts, culture and creative engagement.
“The enrollment for our summer arts program has increased tremendously with the discounted prices being offered, thanks to the Edison International grant,” said Candice Vander Hyde, Lancaster Community Service Foundation’s recreation program coordinator. “We have returning students for every session.”