“While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things are extraordinary.”
It was the late 1980s and New World School of the Arts High School, a jewel of Miami, had just been born. Competition to gain a spot in the high school was fierce. Ruth Wiesen noticed that students who had access to private dance education had an advantage over students who couldn’t afford the high costs. She went to Thomas Armour, director of the Miami Conservatory and asked him if she could fill 25 empty spots in his classes with students on scholarship. He gave his blessing and the next year, all of those students entering the 9th grade were awarded placement at NWSA. That was the first ripple.
“I had no grand vision. I was lucky enough to be in a position to acknowledge an inequity and to make small changes. It was a drop in the bucket.” -Ruth Wiesen
As the program began to grow, the team realized that the study of dance put the students on a metaphorical bus…one that could take them to high performing middle, high schools and college. However, a wide range of barriers could block that bus and the child’s path. Barriers included:
Lack of opportunity for professional dance training.
Distance from training and lack of transportation.
Expense of dance clothing and shoes.
Academic gaps that followed a student to high school and college.
Uneven access to schools of choice.
Being the “first in family” to go beyond high school.
Lack of access to medical and mental healthcare, immigration representation, food and housing insecurity, proximity to violence and more.
Over the years, Ruth has built a significant network of dedicated community partners and investors, resulting in ADT’s ability to remove barriers. This approach is now ingrained in the philosophy of all that ADT does and is crucial to achieving its mission.
ADT is establishing The Ruth Wiesen Fund to honor Ruth’s innovative and impactful work. Investors in this fund, known as “Pathmakers”, join Ruth and ADT to remove any barrier, no matter the size, that lies in the pathway to success for all children.