Face to Face

60 3Arts supporters
$7,000 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on June 25, 2020
    • 140% contributed

As the Founding Artistic Director of Ayodele Drum & Dance, I am organizing a study trip for members of our youth ensemble to travel to Ivory Coast in West Africa in 2021. Youth rarely have positive reinforcements to understand how to embrace their purpose, how much of the world there is to see, and how much there is to live for beyond Chicago. Even with the uncertainty of our world right now, we must still dream about what’s next for us and for the youth in our communities. My goal is to raise funds that will support the travel and activities for at least three youth, plus myself and an adult ensemble member. If we raise more, we would love to bring up to eight youth in total. Through our past travels and contacts in the region, the students will learn new drumming and dancing techniques, exchange similarities between Chicago street dance styles and Ivory Coast traditional forms, and build meaningful international connections with artistic partners. This “Face to Face” project is an important part of Ayodele’s rites of passage program that teaches discipline, self-confidence, coping skills, college preparation, community service, and more. Our programs are geared to young women who need the benefits of this mentorship and opportunities the most. Who other to invest in than our children?When our children understand that there are people in this world willing to contribute to their dreams, we nurture their confidence and access to their own foundation and purpose.

About This Project

One of the reasons I created Ayodele’s community and rites of passage program for young girls is because at the age of 15 years old, I lost my mother to cancer, leaving me with no guidance, no hope, and no direction. I began my own "face to face" voyaging practice to Brazil and West Africa in 2006 to deepen my experience. I discovered and maintained meaningful relationships with other women’s organizations, communities, dance companies, and directors. In 2008, I began taking dancers from Chicago to study in other regions and countries, fueling me as a mentor while also allowing me to see the impact it had on my dancers and their work.

As I fostered this travel for the adult dancers in our company, our youth dancers became more confident and outspoken about their desire to grow as artists and individuals themselves. They wanted to know what life is like for children in the very countries that we’ve studied and learned about.

Face to Face gives students personal insight and exposure to realities far beyond any movie or book may offer. It is more than just an artistic product or a study journey. It’s the process in which the learning experience impacts a young person’s internal growth, intellectual nourishment, and their future. I know this first-hand when my ambitious drive to travel to Africa and experience the culture there saved me as a motherless teenager. I am a living testimony that having a “face to face” experience is enlightening as well as confidence-boosting and deeply meaningful for self-understanding and success.

An organized trip like this is costly and complicated. Your contributions are critical to helping us take these youth on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. Thank you for your generosity!

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Social media shout-out ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus a digital postcard from Ivory Coast ($40.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus a copy of an Ayodele Drum & Dance digital CD recording ($75.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus one ticket to an Ayodele Youth Program event (post-trip) and an autographed photo from our trip in Ivory Coast ($205.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Two tickets to Ayodele’s Annual Concert and one ticket to an Ayodele Youth ProgrameEvent (post-trip), plus an Ayodele T-shirt or small trip souvenir, an Ayodele Drum & Dance CD, and an autographed memoir scrapbook from our Ivory Coast trip ($355.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    Everything at the $500 level plus an exclusive invitation to meet with the artists at the Ayodele Annual Concert, plus recognition in our autographed scrapbook & concert program, and invitation to a virtual Ivory Coast style dance class with Ayo ($755.00 is tax deductible.)

T. Ayo Alston

Southwest Airlines Awardee

T. Ayo Alston teaches and practices a signature theatrical style of West African drum and dance culture that captures the strength and power of women and community. Ayo is the founder, executive director, composer, and choreographer of Ayodele Drum and …

View T. Ayo Alston's profile
  • Update 1: Get To Know Our Youth
    Posted on June 18, 2020


    7 Days Left...Let’s meet that last minute stretch goal. Every cent counts. We appreciate you!


    My name is India Marie Hatfield. I’m a graduating senior from Von Steuben Metropolitan High School in Chicago, Illinois. I was born and raised in Chicago on the south side of the city. My mother, Melanie Cheatham raised me along with my grandmother Carolyn Cheatham the first six years of my life. After my grandmother's death, my mother pretty much raised me on her own. My mother, along with many positive outlets has shaped me into who I am today. 

    Currently , I am a part of Ayodele drum and dance company. Dance, more than anything, helps me express myself. I feel free, and happy when dancing. Being a part of the dance company has given me self-confidence, knowledge of my history, and most of all a positive outlet. My hope is to continue to study dance, while filling my other goals and dreams in life. 

    Despite the challenges over the years, especially this past year, I remain optimistic. My senior year started with a Chicago school strike, and ended with the COVID-19 pandemic.  These things made time with friends, in any plans for senior prom impossible. However, with the support of my mom and the dance company, my spirit has remained high. I've also been blessed with the opportunity to take a trip to the Ivory Coast with the dance company, which is one of my lifelong dreams. I’m grateful for all of the love and support in my life, and I will continue to strive for greatness.  

    Update 2: 7 Days left:introducing India Hatfield
    Posted on June 18, 2020


    As we are in our last 7 day stretch of this campaign, I want to intoduce you to one of the youth whom YOU have helped get to Africa. Check out her letter in the updates and hope that it inspires you to help us go beyond our stretch. 
    Thank you to all who have supported and thank you to all who will help us in this last. 

    Meet India 

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.


    • Karen Shifflett

    • Amanda Holman

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    • Deborah Peters

    • Ayanna London

    • Ayanna London

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    • Stephanie Hill

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    • Amber Johnson

    • Jason Wolf

    • Xantia Grant

    • Nikol Reed

    • Selam Kidane

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3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

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