Since 1995, the Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute has provided free programs for at-risk DC youth (ages 5 to 18). This year, the programs were not funded. The organization has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the 2017-18 programs.

WASHINGTON, DC, September 01, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ — Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute (HTCMLI) has helped area children stay in school, lead productive, healthy lives and remain outside of the criminal justice system since 1995. Located on historic U Street in Washington, D.C., where artists such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Harry Belafonte performed during the era when the street was known as “Black Broadway,” HTCMLI has provided continuous multi-faceted programming for area youth. When HTCMLI Founder and Chief Instructor Abdur-Rahim Muhammad created the institute, vacant buildings littered the U Street Corridor, and the children who lived in the area had little to do after school. The no-cost programming furnished free of charge to children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18 years includes lessons in Kung Fu, basic Cantonese, Mandarin and performing arts, including African djembe drumming, traditional Chinese folk art’s Lion and Dragon dance, synchronized drumming. HTCMLI forms a unique cultural bridge between the Asian- and African-American families in the community through teaching and performance in various Washington venues, such as the Kennedy Center, and intimate gatherings, including Chinese weddings and Lunar New Year events. In addition, HTCMLI has represented the United States in martial arts competitions in Mainland China, Hong Kong Malaysia and Singapore. Our children, most of whom had never traveled outside the Washington, D.C. area, successfully competed, winning gold, silver and bronze medals as well as broadening their view of the world.

Urban renewal in the once-blighted area in which the institute is located has resulted in a significant increase in operating expenses, while funding that previously supported HTCMLI simultaneously waned. HTCMLI Founder Rahim Muhammad explains: “We embrace the positive changes that have come to the U Street Corridor, but, at the same time, we recognize that people and businesses are being displaced because they can no longer afford the taxes or rental rates. Recent changes in competitive funding sources resulted in the loss of a grant to provide resources for our free 2017-18 Out-of-School and summer programs. We teach our children to persevere – when one door shuts, to open another door – and thus, we are seeking funding from the community for our upcoming programming year through a crowdfunding campaign. Without this critical funding, HTCMLI may become a casualty to the area’s progress.”

As Chief Instructor and Founder, Abdur-Rahim Muhammad is Sifu which means teacher/father. Most of the young males in HTCMLI’s program come from households headed by single mothers and have very little positive interaction with adult males as either mentors, role models, or father figures. This essential out-of-school program provides positive reinforcement, mentoring and guidance empowering children to enable them to live meaningful, productive and healthy lives.

To help fund the HTCMLI 2017-18 programming year and keep this neighborhood gem on U Street, please visit: our Go Fund Me page. Help us build momentum: #KeepHTCMLIonUStreet

ABOUT HTCMLI: Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute is a 501(c)(3) leadership development organization that focuses on developing life-long skills for adults and children of Washington, DC. During the summer, the school teaches free Kung Fu, Chinese Lion Dance, and Chinese Thunder Drumming to DC school children. Children learn how to participate in gala events on traditional stages and open floors, attend field trips to historic DC locations, as well as a trip to the beach enclave of Ocean City, MD. By participating in the Leadership Institute’s programs and attending the Institute’s classes, students of any age develop life-enhancing skills along with positive values, a sense of purpose and direction, and a commitment to community development. Confidence and skills developed through HTCMLI programs equip students to set and achieve personal goals while overcoming life’s inevitable challenges.

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