Artstream is a transformative learning program that integrates creative arts, artists, and cultural organizations in ways that empower and spark curiosity elementary grade students and beyond.Learn More
Shadows to Light consists of federal reentry and diversion programs that aim to reduce recidivism and promote successful community reintegration.
Shadows to Light forms the basis of the Sendero (“path”, in Spanish) Federal Reentry Program in the Western District of Texas. Focusing on the re-integration of recently incarcerated defendants, Sendero is strictly voluntary, available for non-violent offenders who are amenable to treatment and counseling. Upon the successful completion of the intense reentry program, the defendant is supervised released is terminated.
In 2016, Judge Montalvo expanded the reentry concept to a diversion program, for post-guilty plea defendants in drug cases in the Western District of Texas. Under the Adelante (“forward”) Federal Diversion Program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office vets the defendants for qualification. A defendant, after pleading guilty to the charge but before sentencing, can have his case dismissed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office upon the successful completion of the Shadows to Light program’s unique combination of cognitive behavioral therapy with groundbreaking training in mindfulness, deep thinking, and logic. The result of avoiding a felony conviction on a defendant’s criminal record crucially advances that person’s prospects of better jobs and reintegration as a productive member of the community. This post-guilty plea diversion program is one of only a handful in the country and is already reaping benefits in El Paso.
Working together with public school districts, Artstream is a learning program that integrates creative arts, artists, and cultural organizations in ways that empower and spark curiosity elementary grade students and beyond.
Our Artists-in-Residence serve as a bridge. Partnerships with cultural and arts-based organizations allow us to work at the intersection of classrooms and community. Each artist introduces regular creative practices into classrooms, and becomes a catalyst for innovative and expanded thinking within a place-based project.
Educators as well as local artists are empowered through professional engagement in a co-learning space to create integrated opportunities for students to broadly practice creativity and questioning in schools, museums, and the community at large. School districts can request special trainings, and pre-service teachers can participate as well. In addition, broad collaborations between UTEP and community partners serve as the foundation for the development of new initiatives at the intersection of research and practice. Psi will co-lead a course in UTEP’s College of Education in Fall 2022 that will provide students with direct experiences in transformative learning communities, and the opportunity to frame and understand their experiences in classroom engagements.
Lightstream is designed as a full support program for teens who have been involved with the juvenile justice system. It is based on almost a decade of success in our Shadows to Light programming for adults within the Federal Justice System, and is implemented in partnership with the El Paso Juvenile Probation Department.
The Lightstream responsive learning model is built on three key elements. First, the model centers the idea of resilience: the ability of people to thrive and grow despite adversity. Based on observations and reflections from previous sessions, facilitators choose specific curricular elements out of a set of possible activities each week. The varied activities across cognitive, affective, and psychomotor learning domains to drive social emotional development as well as cognitive development and creativity. A space for youth to co-design the program experience and generate some of their own inquiries and activities is critical to this model.
This is an active learning exploration of young people's potential as well as creativity and serves as a valuable tool to enhance both skills and knowledge. Each session offers youth mentoring opportunities and a guided discussion of the material and ideas we cover. Our current framework includes four thematic units, each lasting about three weeks. It incorporates a variety of activities across learning domains. Over the course of 90 minutes once a week for three months, each unit is explored in ways that prioritize interaction, reflection, and meaning making. Regular family engagement components provide guidance and new perspectives for parents and guardians as well.
In partnership with the Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises (El Paso's public housing authority) Transformative Learning Communities (TLCs) currently exist as community centered youth development opportunities for juveniles and younger children within El Paso's public housing communities.
Our youth collectives are cooperative learning spaces for youth in public housing, filled with varied engagements that drive critical thinking, creativity, and resilience: the ability of youth to thrive and grow from one another. A program team—comprised of experts in academic disciplines, professional artists, and local youth leaders—add higher learning opportunities in the humanities, arts, and sciences that are often reserved for only those who pursue college.
The multi-generational families of each cohort of young people are included in and actively connected to TLC programming. Regular community-wide events provide sensory-rich opportunities that open new ways of thinking for individuals of all ages, and allow us to extend our connections to an entire housing complex.
As major contributors to our multi-disciplinary team, social workers provide seamless place-based resource support within TLCs and can connect people to crisis management services as needed. Viewing social and emotional learning as integral to our programming empowers parents and young people alike with resources, as well as leverages the personal, cultural, and environmental assets in our communities to support growth.