This year has been the year of resilience. We have had to dig deeper, work harder, become more focused and remain tenacious with all the obstacles that have come against us in this past season. Through it all we continued to dance and to share the artform. We welcomed our momentous return to the stage, during our American Spanish Dance and Music Festival, with three sold-out, outdoor concerts and a rousing support of the outdoor fair that we hosted with several vendors, who sold Spanish inspired items. We taught over 400 students Spanish dance through our educational programming. We created the only Spanish dance dual-enrollment program in the State of Illinois, where we were able to offer college credit to high school juniors and seniors to learn Spanish dance. We also had tremendous success with our Flamenco West-African Fusion class that we taught to arts-impacted communities. We served more than 5,000 students remotely though our Tales of Spain educational programming, where we teach about the origins of Spanish Dance.
This could not have been done without the leadership of two very key people: Jorge Perez, Executive Director, and Board Chairman, Daniel Contreras. Both Jorge and Daniel have been recognized for their leadership through various awards. Jorge was awarded the Outstanding Award for Leadership in the Latino Community from Wintrust Bank, and Daniel was recognized by Crain’s as being an outstanding leader among notable nonprofit board of director leaders.
Jorge and Daniel invigorated the company to do more, share more, and perform more as we enter 2022. We are working with our board of directors and community local, national, and international partners, to develop our strategic plan, which will lead us to our golden 50th Anniversary. We are undergoing a digital transformation led by our board chairman to find new and inventive ways to utilize technology, to enhance our company. We are expanding our programmatic offerings so that we can better serve our students and provide a more diverse range of Spanish dance experience for them. We are collaborating with new teachers and dance companies to offer more cross-cultural exchange of dance ideas, thoughts, and trainings for our dancers. We are engaging more with our donors, offering exclusive experiences and opportunities for them to engage and get involved. We are also collaborating with our community to be a part of the solution in helping children use art as an outlet, as they deal with the various issues that are plaguing our community. In 2022 you will see a renewed effort to lean into our community to utilize dance as a tool to inspire hope, to dream big, and to plan big.
Though we do not know what the future will hold, we are committed to finding ways to do more with the wonderful art that we have, expanding our horizons, and learning and growing more as dancers, and connecting with our community to be more for the people, who need to see themselves in what we do, so that we can continue to be that beacon of hope that Ensemble has been for more than 45 years. In a season where we have seen arts organizations close, we have grown. We completed $100,000 donor-funds-match campaign. We have increased the pay of our company dancers to exceed what US-based Spanish dance company dancers make. As others are downsizing operations, we have added payroll and HR support to our list of professional services and are now offering all our dancers and staff a 401(k) program as well as supplemental mental-health support post pandemic through an Employee Assistance Program.
We are finding ways and forging through, but we do need your support. We need your support to increase our organizational maturity, to continue to enhance our back-office efforts. We need your support to enhance the training and development that we offer to our staff. We need your support to help defray the cost of brining guest artists to our American Spanish Dance and Music Festival. We need your support to sponsor artists around the world to work with our world-class company. We need your support to grow new initiatives like a Spanish-dance symposium, dance retreats for CPS dancers, buses for arts-impacted children to get to our performances and offer new FREE performances and classes for children in their communities.
We have just embarked on a $200,000 donor-match challenge. We will be reaching out to each of you to support Ensemble in a way that you never have before. If you have already given, thank you very much, and if you have yet to give, please reach out today. If you would like to consider a life gift, stock transfer, or other large gift please reach out to our Associate Executive Director, Kim Grigsby directly at email@example.com. We know with your support we will be able to reach our goals and to exceed expectations again in 2022.
This year has been challenging yet also joyful. We have overcome many obstacles to keep our supremely talented company moving forward, and we continue to work hard to ensure that Ensemble will be around for another 45 years. We have also been able to capitalize, during this down time, to restructure the operations of the Ensemble so that we can meet the needs of the 21st century. Ensemble has kept moving, growing, inspiring, and creating art, and we could not be prouder to have made it this far, and with your help we will continue to remain Ensemble Español Strong.
Sincerely and with warm regards,