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Committed to enriching the lives of Riverside's youth by teaching critical life skills through the arts.

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Empowering Riverside’s youth to grow socially, academically, and culturally through exposure to and training in the arts. 


The Riverside Arts Academy is committed to providing instruction and a springboard to arts education in a broad-based curriculum that focuses on improving the quality of life through music, dance, performing, and visual arts.

Our goals are:


To provide low- or no-cost quality arts programs for the community.


To focus on our four core disciplines, under the guidance of qualified instructors, so participants develop fundamentals and fine-tune artistic techniques. 


Use monies raised through sponsorship and donations to purchase instruments, art materials and provide specialized instruction.


Ensure that all children in Riverside have access to the arts.


“Although the arts are often thought of as solely expressive and
affective, they are also deeply cognitive.”


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Our Story

The Riverside Arts Academy (RAA) has engaged in a rich and diverse history of single focused collaboration with the community and the city as we introduce the visual and performing arts to underserved, at-risk youth of our city.

In 2012, during the Riverside Renaissance, Councilman Andy Melendrez started a dialogue with the school district to reestablish an elementary school on the Eastside of the city. Due to the economic climate at that time, the idea morphed into the Eastside School of the Arts, under the leadership of the City of Riverside’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director, Ralph Nuñez and an incredibly dedicated staff. The school opened on a shoestring budget with donated instruments and volunteer instructors and the City of Arts and Innovation had its first grassroots School of the Arts with the mission to “change lives.”

In July of 2013, participation had reached 500 students but funding was in danger of being cut, and the school possibly dissolving. Alicia Robinson, a reporter at the Press Enterprise newspaper, reported that the school was in danger of closing due to a lack of funds and the community rallied! Local businesses, county supervisors and community organizations saw the need to keep kids busy and off the streets. The Riverside Police Foundation, The Group, Riverside Latino Network, and Windermere Tower Properties, along with other local business and community leaders made a commitment to fundraise to keep the doors of the School of the Arts open.

Over the past two years, the Riverside Arts Academy Community Board was formed. The Board and the City of Riverside have worked in alignment to formulate a strategic plan, and to lay the groundwork for offering a higher level of instruction with the assistance and collaboration of various educational institutions: University of California, Riverside, California Baptist University, Riverside Community College, La Sierra University, Alvord Unified School District, Riverside Unified School District and California Riverside Ballet.

In the beginning of the 2015 school year, Alvord Unified School District, under the direction of Superintendent Sid Salazar took the next step in implementing RAA’s joint vision, and implemented a music education program. Alpin Hong, a world-renowned concert pianist and kid magnet started the program at select schools in the Alvord Unified School District, serving over 600 students, with assistance from La Sierra University and California Baptist University. Plans are under way to increase the number of children served with a more involved music program that focuses on understanding on how music impacts literacy, particularly in the younger grades. Discussions are currently underway between RAA and Riverside Unified School District with hopes of expanding their music program.

In June of 2015, RAA expanded their instructional sites beyond the Cesar Chavez Community Center in the Eastside to include Bryant Park in Arlanza and the Ysmael Villegas Community Center in Casa Blanca. The expansion brought new, high caliber instructors and classes such as: classical ballet, violin, percussion, hip-hop theater and visual arts were introduced. 

In 2016, RAA started a youth orchestra and chorale group to our students under the direction of our musical director, Alpin Hong. As an award-winning musician, he brings vision and an innovative approach to the Riverside Arts Academy.

Our objective at the Riverside Arts Academy is to connect our dreams to the future of our community, to reach out to the under-served and at-risk youth, and to change lives through mentorship, building a sense of community and pride of our participants to achieve at a higher level in life.

We’re all about changing lives through the arts!

Our vision:

COMMITMENT — Positively develop students from elementary school through high school graduation. 

COMMUNITY — Work to build a community of supportive families and community partnerships to further the RAA Mission.

COLLABORATION — Foster collaboration among students, teachers, student mentors, staff, Community partners, funders, sponsors, and the Board to accomplish more by working together rather than separately.

RESPECT — Respect one another as students, parents, teachers, mentors, staff, community partners, funders, sponsors, and Directors.

RESPONSIBILITY — Take responsibility for their own acts and failures to act and for the success of their students and programs; as students, as families, as teachers, as staff, and as Board members. 

INTEGRITY — Work to promote the integrity of its personnel, students, and program.

SUSTAINABILITY — Work to sustain its ability to promote the development and health of its students and its communities in the future.


“Noted  Harvard University  Social  Scientist, Robert Putnam suggests that to address a growing socio-economic divide that communities must treat every kid, regardless of life circumstances, as our own. This is exactly what The Riverside Arts Academy does. Riverside benefits greatly from the Riverside Arts Academy and I am personally grateful to the volunteers and sponsors that are changing the lives of our children through this innovative approach to education.”

William R. “Rusty” Bailey, III, Mayor of Riverside


Your Support Is Critical

Riverside Arts Academy is an arts-based youth development program in the
City of Riverside that uses the visual and performing arts as a vehicle
to help build skills and foster positive attitudes and behavior among
underserved young people. When you sponsor Riverside’s only city-run
program you are supporting a great cause in a visible and impactful way.
You are showing the city and our community that you stand behind youth
art programs, culture, and community, and that you are willing to
provide access to the arts for kids who typically have the fewest

Your support gives them a chance to overcome tremendous obstacles and
enriches our community in extraordinary ways.

Although the arts are often thought of as solely expressive and
affective, they are also deeply cognitive. The arts allows young people
to develop essential thinking tools. Numerous studies have shown a de
nite positive relationship between music training and reading
acquisition and the development of math skills. It has also shown a
positive relationship between learning to dance and the development of
thinking that supports organized complex action. The arts contribute to
the education of youth by helping them see the different ways people
express sentiments and convey meaning, and develop subtle and complex
forms of thinking.

This is your opportunity to support the youth in our city and impact the
lives of our future leaders. Investing in Riverside Arts Academy means
that you will have a profound effect on artists, youth, and the
community. By joining in our commitment to improve the lives of
underserved young people through arts-based learning and youth
development programs, you enrich the entire community.

We are asking you to become a friend of Riverside Arts Academy with a
tax deductible donation. Enclosed you will find a list of sponsor

Thank you for your support.







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