LEAF Schools & Streets inspires students to find and develop their artistic voice while supporting healthy youth development. As an arts education program,  LEAF Schools & Streets matches artists with youth in schools and communities for residencies, interactive performances and mentoring that includes empowering performance opportunities for youth (at LEAF Festival, and beyond!)

Community Need


There are many youth throughout Asheville and Buncombe County that have limited access to the arts.  If youth are not enrolled in school sponsored music and arts classes due to transportation and economic means, they have no way of engaging in culturally rich arts education.
Research shows that youth who are not engaged in high quality after school programs are more likely to engage in inappropriate and illegal behaviors in the after school hours.

Research from the President’s Council on the Arts &Humanities recently shared the benefits of high quality arts education:

Student achievement, typically as represented by reading and mathematics
performance on high stakes tests, including transfer of skills learning from the
arts to learning in other academic areas—for example, the spatial-temporal reasoning
skills developed by music instruction;
Student motivation and engagement, including improved attendance, persistence,
focused attention, heightened educational aspirations, and intellectual
risk taking;
Development of habits of mind including problem solving, critical and creative
thinking, dealing with ambiguity and complexity, integration of multiple skill
sets, and working with others; and
Development of social competencies, including collaboration and team work
skills, social tolerance, and self-confidence.

Goals & Vision

Our goals are to:

 children, their families and communities through cooperation and performances.

   children, communities, and community partners on the power of the arts.

    the lives of all children and provide cultural arts to underserved communities.

    by actively engaging in the arts, children are transformed, and develop confidence and self-efficacy.

 LEAF Schools & Streets proves that music and the arts can bridge cultures and create life-altering, community-building experiences. Our LEAF Schools & Streets programs partner with the community to provide an opportunity for youth participants to attend and perform at LEAF alongside their Teaching Artists. Participating youth gain self-esteem, confidence and cultural awareness while experiencing multiple interactions with performing artists, being a performer on stage, and a festival adventure. 

LEAF Schools & Streets Teaching Artists are from the local, regional and international community. The programs are designed to reach children and adults of different socio-economic backgrounds in the Asheville area and Western NC who have limited access to the arts. LEAF Schools & Streets partners with the community to provide engaging, rewarding arts experiences where they are needed most.



 Over 53,000 youth have participated in residencies, workshops
or performances since 2004.
 286 programs in schools (15 Title 1 schools)
 383 different arts education programs
 40 after-school programs / community centers
 Over 5,800 youth performers at LEAF

Year-round LEAF Schools & Streets programing for 2015:

15 Resident Teaching Artists
20 LSS weekly programs
3 low-income housing
8 community centers
7 after school programs

Inspiring CREATIVITY since 2004
“Since participating in LEAF Schools & Streets, I have noticed an increase in organization and improved grades in my child.”
Parent of Erwin Middle School Student

LEAF Schools & Streets Timeline

Click through to see what LEAF Schools & Streets has accomplished over the years!

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LEAF becomes a non-profit organization. LEAF Schools & Streets starts
    programming in area schools, reaching 1,170 youth in 1st year.

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    1st LSS program in youth correctional facility with artist
    Michael Franti 
    and 1st Klondyke Housing Program

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS expands into middle and high schools

  • LEAF School & Streets

    LSS receives CFWNC grant with Children First/CIS for
    after-school programs in public housing communities

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS receives Etown’s E-Chievement Award

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LEAF and LSS receive 1st NEA grant for ‘Expreiónes Latinas’

    LSS and LI partner in women’s correctional facility and schools

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    TAPAS [Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools] launched 

    LSS Klondyke Housing Drum Line gives Downtown After 5’s first youth performance

    LSS joins city-wide collaboration – IRL [In Real Life]

    NEA Grant for Caribbean Traditions

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LEAF Schools & Streets chosen as the 2011 Non-Profit Champion for Asheville City Schools

    LSS partners with William Randolph Alternative School for Enrichment Fridays

    LSS starts Kenya J. Webster Fund in honor of its legendary teaching artist

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS expands programming with Asheville Parks & Recreation
    to include three Community Centers

    LSS moves Jazz Program to partner with Delta House Life Development

    LSS receives SouthArts grant for Uncommon Time: Taiko & Tabla


  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS starts Ben Gradison Memorial Fund to support 1 mic studios locally and globally

    LSS hosts Mickey Hart Drumming workshop at October LEAF

    LEAF Delta Jazz Band opens for Preservation Hall at May LEAF

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS receives Hanes Grant Funding for LEAF Delta Jazz program

    LSS hosts field trip for LEAF Delta Jazz Band to visit
    Preservation Hall in New Orleans and play at Congo Square Festival

    LSS sponsors Megaphone Project art installation from Australia

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS partners with Parks & Recreation to operate the Easel Rider mobile art lab,
    bringing art to communities throughout Asheville.

    LSS receives Ramble Charitable Fund for Shiloh Program

    LSS receives Grassroots grant for Drumming at Delta House and Wesley Grant

  • LEAF Schools & Streets

    LSS receives Art in the Park Grant for Easel Rider programming at Pritchard Park

    LSS partners with YMI for African Drumming and Dance classes

    LSS receives South Arts grant for Middle Grounds

    LSS starts LEAF Camp in partnership with Asheville Parks & Recreation at Wesley Grant