Thrive Collective Brings the Arts into NYC Public Schools

Thrive Collective Brings the Arts into NYC Public Schools


My cousin Andy is a scientist who studies autoimmune diseases. When we were kids, though, he was known for making the best sweet bread and fish cakes you’ve ever tasted.

The connection isn’t always obvious, but there’s often a straight if dotted line between the arts (even culinary arts) and the sciences. Kids who miss out on the arts often lack the chance to develop STEM skills as well, since the arts can aid in unlocking their understanding of STEM.


Thrive Collective Brings the Arts to School

The best private schools typically include extensive arts education, including the performing arts and fine arts, but often low-income schools don’t.

According to Thrive Collective, 419 public schools in the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods have no arts program at all. The New York-based nonprofit is working to change that.

Co-founded by Jeremy Del Rio, Walter Sotelo, and Paul Coty, Thrive works with underserved students after school and on weekends in 100 schools in 25 districts across the city.

It provides programs in instrumental and vocal music, mural painting, and filmmaking through the expertise of teaching artists, mentors, volunteers, and interns, as well as a mentorship program.


A New Home in Harlem

Thrive recently relocated to Harlem, just around the corner from the landmark Apollo Theater.

Says Co-founder Del Rio in a video on the Thrive site, of schools that don’t provide their students an arts education, “This is a perfectly solvable injustice. We can eradicate artless education.”

A unique quality of Thrive is its partner-agnosticism—the organization works with Democrats, Republicans, and people of any race or religion, or no religion, to bring the arts to underserved schools.

Del Rio wrote early last year to Rolling Stone magazine, which had mischaracterized the organization as a tool of Education Secretary Betsy De Vos’s. In part of his rebuttal Del Rio says:

“Conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, unionized teachers, homeschool parents, American citizens, undocumented immigrantsall are welcome in Thrive’s big tent. Our one condition: do you care about restoring the promise of public education for everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us? If so, then you can fight alongside us any day.”

To learn more about Thrive Collective, a licensed vendor of the Department of Education, or to donate or volunteer, visit its website.