Helping teens create their best life

Comegys Insurance Agency and Arts Conservatory for Teens are working together to enrich the lives of teens through arts education. To vote for them, use the social media buttons to share this story, or leave a comment below. If they reach 500 votes, the $5,000 donation they’ve already earned doubles to $10,000!

Arts education creates lasting positive change in a young person’s life. Research shows that students who participate in art programs gain leadership skills, self-confidence and emotional intelligence — and have improved academic outcomes. But arts funding has plummeted in recent years, leaving many teens unable to benefit from arts education at school. Arts Conservatory for Teens (ACT) in St. Petersburg, Florida, offers world-class training and performance opportunities to underserved and at-risk youth so that they can benefit from exposure to the arts.

Helping teens create their best life 1
ACT CEO and co-founder Dr. Alex Harris and students perform at the Champions for ACT Breakfast annual fundraiser at the Morean Center for Clay in 2018.

Putting students on a path to success


Derek Berset, a third-generation insurance professional at Comegys Insurance Agency, is deeply committed to ensuring students in his community have access to the resources they need to become productive, creative, civic-minded adults. That drew him to get involved with ACT in 2012. After serving as ACT’s Board of Directors president for three years, Derek now sits on the organization’s advisory board. Besides using his business experience to advise the leadership team, Derek helps raise major gifts and hosts fundraisers, performances and community discussions at his home and office throughout the year to help promote ACT’s work.


Art education can truly change the course of a student’s life. I have heard stories of the hardships students have experienced and then seen them thrive in ACT’s programs, graduate from high school and move on to higher learning.

– Derek Berset, vice president at Comegys Insurance Agency

Building skills and confidence

In 2015 Derek worked with ACT to produce “Shout St. Pete,” an educational film celebrating Black people’s contributions to American music and culture. Students worked with over 800 local young professionals in the arts to gain real-world experience in music, writing and film production.

While the film became a lasting resource for the St. Petersburg community, Derek says the most rewarding part of his involvement has been to witness the way students blossom in their talent, gain self-confidence and realize their worth under the guidance of ACT’s instructors and staff.

Helping teens create their best life 2
ACT students, staff and volunteers participate in the Champions for ACT Breakfast, the organization’s annual fundraising event, in 2017.

Pivoting during the pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ACT made a swift and smooth transition to virtual programming, allowing students to continue their arts education and professional development without missing a beat. Through acting, film production, music production, visual arts and game coding, ACT students used their creativity to stay emotionally resilient throughout a challenging year.

Comegys Insurance Agency remained committed to the organization throughout 2020, and Derek was able to facilitate a major financial gift that will support arts education for youth and teens over the next three years.


“With the ongoing commitment of supporters like Comegys Insurance Agency, we continue to provide high-quality arts programs that create meaningful positive change in the lives of underserved teens.”

– Dr. Alex Harris, CEO and co-founder at ACT

Helping teens create their best life 3
Comegys Insurance Agency staff, including Derek Berset, right, pose with ACT leaders after a presentation for ACT.

Overcoming barriers to higher education

With an award of $10,000, ACT would be able to purchase equipment for their creative technology classes. These classes cover film and music technology and are some of the most popular in the workforce development curriculum. Students create work they can develop into a high-quality portfolio, which they can use as support material for college admissions or in pursuit of professional opportunities.

Currently, even enrolled students wait long periods of time to work on their projects because they have to share a camera with at least 10 other students. And ACT has to turn away other students who’d like to enroll because there isn’t enough equipment to go around. Funding from a Make More Happen award would allow ACT to expand enrollment by 50 students each semester. “Imagine all the students being able to participate in these classes each semester when they wouldn’t have been able to before,” says Derek. “That’s 100 more students each year who could have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”


Your vote could change the course of a teen’s life by allowing ACT to enroll more students. Every vote or comment gets ACT one step closer to providing life-changing arts education opportunities for 50 more teens in need each semester. Visit Comegys Insurance Agency and Arts Conservatory for Teens to learn more.

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28 days ago

ACT gets my vote for doing absolutely fabulous things in our local community!

Lynda Postema
28 days ago

What a great cause!

Carolanne Blonshine
28 days ago

This is an awesome program and a very worthwhile cause!

Wayne Killeen
28 days ago

What a worthy cause.

Melissa A Hess
28 days ago

Amazing cause!! You definitely get my vote!

28 days ago

You got my vote! What an awesome cause and agency!

27 days ago

ACT A great organization for our young people

Alex Harris
27 days ago

ACT is changing lives beyond measure! Kudos to the team! Thanks to Derek Berset and Comegys for such honor and nomination!

Caprice Edmond
27 days ago

ACT provides engaging programs and positive reinforcements for students and the community.

Linda Waites
27 days ago

Great job with a great organization!

Kevin Butcher
27 days ago

Great work for a great cause

Maureen Eakins
27 days ago

What a great opportunity you have created.

Joan E Randolph
27 days ago

ACT is a wonderful and creative program for teens in our community :o)

Julie Diaz
27 days ago

What a great program!

Robby Hawking
27 days ago

It’s so great to see this wonderful organization enriching the lives of our youth! Such incredible work!

Laura Sherman
27 days ago

Great cause! Thank you for giving back to the community!!

Jim Howe
27 days ago

Fantastic cause, you got my vote!

27 days ago

Go ACT!!!

Chad Holsombeck
27 days ago

I’m proud to support Comegys Insurance Agency for their work with Arts Conservatory for Teens.

27 days ago

Happy to support ACT

27 days ago

ACT is an amazing organization doing real good in our community. I vote for ACT!

Jennifer Lynch
27 days ago

This awesome program gets my vote!

Paul Smet
27 days ago

A fantastic organization, hope they get this donation doubled

Breann Lyle
27 days ago

Such a great program for teens!!

Jeannie Kouris
27 days ago

great program!

Lori Ballis
27 days ago

An amazing group that gives so much back to the community.

Saylor Mulford
27 days ago

Way to go ACT and Comegys Insurance

Gail Davis
27 days ago

This is a worthy cause.

Adriane Foran
27 days ago

Incredible organization doing great things in the community!

Shannon Griepsma
27 days ago

Thank you for your commitment to the community and to our future generations!

Bryan Barger
27 days ago

What a great program. Keep up this important work.

27 days ago

Congratulations to Arts Conservatory for Teens – the work you do for students in your community is incredible!

27 days ago

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way! What a way to invest in our future leaders!

Laura Cornell
27 days ago

ACT gets my vote!

Nadine Wynne
27 days ago

Awesome organization helping so many young people

Robbin Vaughn
27 days ago

What an awesome cause you are sponsoring!

Nelson Shawn
27 days ago

Love to see Comegys partnering with such a great cause!

27 days ago

What a fantastic cause that provides a great opportunity! Thank you for going the extra mile.

Steve Simmons
27 days ago

It’s impressive to see businesses like Comegys Insurance Agency give their time and resources to step in the gap and build a bridge to better futures with organizations like the Arts Conservatory for Teens! We are all in this together!

Elaine Willis
27 days ago

ACT is doing great things and working with the young people to guide them into doing something postive in their life and the community definitely gets my vote.

angela leischner
27 days ago

Amazing program!!

Brittany Marr
27 days ago

This is awesome! You have my vote!

Dante Torrent
27 days ago

ACT/Comegy’s are making a positive and consistent difference in our community! Congrat’s on a job well done!!

Blythe Millwood
27 days ago

Awesome program!

27 days ago

Thanks for supporting the arts!

Eileen Nicola
27 days ago

Awesome organization for our youth.

Naomi Frechette
27 days ago

Excellent agency supporting and excellent organization. Include my vote!

27 days ago

My vote is for ACT!

27 days ago

ACT provides these teens an avenue for higher education through the arts! Their success rate is phenomenal!

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