Many parents struggle to afford performing arts classes, which often have added costs beyond instruction. Musical instruments, dance costumes, and competition fees can break the family budget.
However, two young women who are performers and high school students themselves, aim to remove financial barriers that may prevent kids from pursuing performing arts.
Madeleine Chen, an elite dancer with The Dallas Conservatory, and Elizabeth Echt, an award-winning musician, founded Visions For Confidence, a non-profit organization that provides performing arts scholarships to children and youth.
Founded in 2020, VisionsForConfidence (V4C) supports young artists with financial needs by providing scholarships. The organization offers the Chen & Echt Arts Scholarship (CEAS), a combined need and merit-based fine arts scholarship program, for young artists aged 20 and under. Recipients can use the scholarships to pay for arts training and competitions.
VisionsForConfidence also provides financial support and arts training for children with special needs.
"Many psychological studies and anecdotal evidence show the connections between fine arts activities and increased mental health and well-being in those children affected by autism. Fine arts education in the younger age has been proven to promote creativity that affects the way children learn and grow," explains co-founder Madeleine Chen.
Chen states that V4C is a "facilitator" of the performing arts. The organization aims to support and maintain fine arts programs for youth with financial hardships or special needs across Texas.
Since Chen and Echt founded VisionsForConfidence in 2020, the organization has raised nearly $30,000 in scholarship funds. During the Christmas holiday, they hosted their Winter Fundraising Performance event, which featured 20 performers from local schools.
In 2022, Chen and Echt set their sights on expanding V4C's impact beyond Texas. The co-founders hope to establish V4C chapters across the United States and around the world. Young dancers can find new chapters in Los Angeles, California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As VisionForConfidence expands, Chen continues to support young Texans interested in the fine arts.
"We'll be continuing to offer Fine Arts Scholarships to those talented young artists facing financial hardships to support their continued arts training and participation in competitions that can lead to professional opportunities," explains Chen.
As Chen expands the organization's reach, she aims to remove other financial barriers that young dancers face. Chen states, "As an alumnae of Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world's largest and most prestigious pre-professional ballet competition, I have recently approached the founder of YAGP, trying to establish a V4C Travel Scholarship, supporting those YAGP world finalists with financial needs to be able to travel to US, participating in YAGP World Finals each year."
VisionForConfidence's programs have received local and national recognition. The organization was named a "Difference Maker of the Week" by KRLD. In April 2022, the V4C team was a semi-finalist in the Diamond Challenge Global High School Innovation competition.