Edwina Meyers and Gail Velez, Cool Culture's Founders and Board Co-Chairs, established Cool Culture to address the absence of low-income families in the audiences of New York's wonderful arts, cultural, and scientific institutions.
Both women have extensive experience in early education and family learning. Ms. Meyers has over 20 years experience at the Administration for Children's Services, including serving as Deputy Commissioner for the Agency for Child Development, and is now the Director for External Affairs at the Agency. Ms. Velez, a former Head Start Director, is now the President of Family Publications, which publishes informational guides for parents and teachers on activities to share with children.
In 1997 Ms. Velez and Ms. Meyers formed the Cultural Development Task Force, a group of arts educators, museum personnel, child care agency managers, and low-income parent representatives dedicated to finding ways to make cultural institutions more accessible to low-income New Yorkers. From a series of discussions, meetings, and focus groups came the concept of Passport to Summer Adventure, a summer program providing free admission and information for museums and other cultural institutions to designated Head Start and Day Care centers.
In 1999, based on the success of Passport to Summer Adventure, Ms. Velez and Ms. Meyers introduced the year-round Cool Culture program with 75 Head Start and Day Care centers and 12 cultural institutions participating. Cool Culture has grown every year since. This year the organization will work with over 425 Child Care, Head Start, and Universal Pre-K programs and Title I public schools, as well as 90 cultural institution partners.
Read a letter from the Founders.