charlotte-graham-cc-fc.jpgMIAMI – The Links, Inc. Greater Miami Chapter in partnership with the Overtown Youth Center (OYC) recently culminated the end of the nationally recognized L.E.T.S. Draw program by announcing that program participant Charlotte Graham has been  accepted into the Design & Architecture Senior High School (DASH), currently ranked as the seventh top magnet school in the nation and 20th overall high school in the United States for 2013 by U.S. News and World Report.

The Links chapter presented Charlotte with an Apple MacBook Air laptop computer and TI-84Plus graphing calculator which are among the supplies she will need when she begins her studies this fall.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of this program,” said Graham in thanking the Links and OYC, “because when I was younger I always knew I wanted to be something in life, but never knew how I was going to do it.

“Now, because of this program I am so excited that I am getting closer to my dream of going to college and becoming a fashion designer,” said 13-year-old Graham, a L.E.T.S. Draw student since 2009.

Launched in the fall of 2008, the L.E.T.S. Draw Project is a partnership of The Links chapter, OYC and Arts for Learning Miami, designed to identify and nurture the artistic ability of youth in Miami’s historic Overtown community. 

The program’s primary focus was to educate underserved minority youth in grades 2-12 on the various forms of visual art technique including drawing, painting, sculpture and 3D animation; build self-confidence in drawing skills; encourage continued study; and provide career exposure in the field of visual arts.  The program will end this June.

“The Links, Inc. continuously strives to leave an indelible mark on the communities we serve by providing transformational programming, and it is always so rewarding when we are able to see our efforts come full circle,” said Rene Beal, president of the Greater Miami Chapter.

“We are not only proud of Charlotte on her accomplishment, but look forward to supporting her as she excels at DASH, and ultimately realizes her dream of attending college.”

Every Friday, chapter members volunteer their time and talents assisting OYC resident art instructor Rodney Royal in the classroom.

The chapter also provided opportunities for students to attend the Architects in the Making (AIM) summer camp at the University of Miami, and hosted art tours at local museums and in the homes of private African-American art collectors in an effort to expose students to works by the masters. 

“Being asked to serve as the art instructor for L.E.T.S. Draw allowed me an opportunity to work with kids who probably never even realized that they had a talent, and help them really focus on their love of art,” said Royal.

“Having Charlotte get into DASH, I feel like a proud dad.  We are now seeing the fruits of our labor. Thank you to the Greater Miami Chapter of the Links, Inc. for implementing this program, and for being behind us 100 percent. The L.E.T.S. Draw program is letting these kids know there is a future for them outside of Overtown.”

Through the partnership effort, two original pieces of student artwork titled It’s Our World are currently on display at Miami International Airport-Concourse H, and have been encased thanks to the generosity of renowned artist Romero Britto.

Funding support for L.E.T.S. Draw also was provided by the Law Offices of Becker and Poliakoff, P.A.