Strathmore's Community Commitment

Bloom At Good Hope Concert With AYO
Elementary School Strings Concert
Kid Doing Art Linkages

Strathmore's Community Commitment

Bringing the arts to every corner of Montgomery County 

by Barbara Ruben 

From its tuition-free Latin Strings and Percussion program in three Gaithersburg schools to its free concerts at Silver Spring’s Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center, Strathmore is on a mission to ensure that the arts are accessible to everyone. This commitment resonates deeply with Strathmore’s president and CEO, Monica Jeffries Hazangeles, who recently discovered the convergence of Strathmore’s community-oriented Bloom programs with Montgomery Planning’s designated equity focus areas, where residents need enhanced access to essential resources and services.  

As Jeffries Hazangeles researched ways to illustrate Bloom’s reach for a board meeting, she stumbled upon Montgomery Planning’s Thrive Montgomery 2050 map, outlining targeted communities from Germantown to Takoma Park. Thrive Montgomery’s comprehensive plan seeks to promote equity through policy planning and investments in historically marginalized communities. When Jeffries Hazangeles plotted Bloom’s programs over top the map, she learned they aligned nearly completely with the communities identified as equity focus areas, home to 26% of the county’s population. 

"It’s truly gratifying to see that Strathmore’s Bloom activities have been thriving in these communities for years," says Jeffries Hazangeles.  

The Bloom by Strathmore initiative collaborates with nonprofits, schools, and community organizations to offer free and low-cost arts programs across the county. From pop-up stages at local festivals, to the Arts and Social Justice Fellowship for high schoolers, to after-school dance instruction from Step Afrika!, these programs touch the lives of over 25,000 students and community members annually. 

“The exposure to the arts is invaluable as it broadens horizons, encourages creativity, and cultivates a deep sense of cultural appreciation.” 

Latin Strings Concert At Strathmore Min

A community collaboration with Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center in eastern Montgomery County, for example, offers year-round free performances—many of which feature alum from Strathmore’s Artist in Residence program. 

“This partnership with Bloom at Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center was designed for and is bringing art enrichment opportunities to an area of the county that didn’t always have access to the arts,” says Montgomery County Recreation Director Robin Riley. “It’s great to watch family and friends come together on Saturdays to enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment of Bloom’s free concert series.” 

“Since the beginning of 2015, we’ve been co-creating alongside the community,” says Lauren Campbell, Strathmore’s vice president of education and community engagement. “Our impact is forged through enduring, trust-based partnerships with our collaborators, who guide us every step of the way.” 

Another notable example is YMCA Linkages to Learning summer camp at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, emphasizing yoga, creative arts, and theater for predominantly Hispanic and recently arrived US students. This summer, Strathmore responded to the YMCA’s call for bilingual teaching artists who could empathize with the students’ experiences. It also enlisted a local woman-owned catering business to provide the camp meals. 

“These families often struggle to find nearby summer camps that are affordable, fun, and engaging,” says Lucy Mejia, the YMCA’s newcomer family case manager. “Strathmore has played a pivotal role in bridging that gap with programming that meets the needs of our community during these crucial summer months.” 

In addition, Strathmore collaborates with another Silver Spring school, JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres, to create year-round experiences that include an annual Spring Break Camp, where fourth and fifth graders are immersed in theater, dance, and art projects. 

“This partnership is a shining example of what can be achieved when a school and a cultural institution come together with a shared vision of nurturing young minds and fostering a love for the arts,” says JoAnn Leleck’s assistant principal, Kristen Reza. 

In every program and collaboration, Strathmore centers the priorities of a neighborhood or partner to deliver what’s most desired. Jeffries Hazangeles explains that access to the arts should reflect the variety of cultures, interests, and traditions across communities. The overlap between the locations of Strathmore’s Bloom programs with Thrive Montgomery’s designated areas of focus proves the arts often lead positive change, and it signals Strathmore’s collective hope for a more equitable and enriched future across the county. 

“We firmly believe that access to the arts is a fundamental human right,” says Jeffries Hazangeles, “and we are committed to expanding arts access far and wide.” 

Bloom Map 2