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. They reached their goal of 500 votes and doubled their donation to reach $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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Laura
4 months ago

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

Lynda Postema
4 months ago

What a great cause!

Carolanne Blonshine
4 months ago

This is an awesome program and a very worthwhile cause!

Wayne Killeen
4 months ago

What a worthy cause.

Melissa A Hess
4 months ago

Amazing cause!! You definitely get my vote!

Jacob
4 months ago

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

Mark
4 months ago

ACT A great organization for our young people

Alex Harris
4 months ago

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

Caprice Edmond
4 months ago

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

Linda Waites
4 months ago

Great job with a great organization!

Kevin Butcher
4 months ago

Great work for a great cause

Maureen Eakins
4 months ago

What a great opportunity you have created.

Joan E Randolph
4 months ago

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

Julie Diaz
4 months ago

What a great program!

Robby Hawking
4 months ago

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

Laura Sherman
4 months ago

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

Jim Howe
4 months ago

Fantastic cause, you got my vote!

Vanessa
4 months ago

Go ACT!!!

Chad Holsombeck
4 months ago

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

PIper
4 months ago

Happy to support ACT

Billy
4 months ago

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

Jennifer Lynch
4 months ago

This awesome program gets my vote!

Paul Smet
4 months ago

A fantastic organization, hope they get this donation doubled

Breann Lyle
4 months ago

Such a great program for teens!!

Jeannie Kouris
4 months ago

great program!

Lori Ballis
4 months ago

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

Saylor Mulford
4 months ago

Way to go ACT and Comegys Insurance

Gail Davis
4 months ago

This is a worthy cause.

Adriane Foran
4 months ago

Incredible organization doing great things in the community!

Shannon Griepsma
4 months ago

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

Bryan Barger
4 months ago

What a great program. Keep up this important work.

Kayleigh
4 months ago

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

Brandon
4 months 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
4 months ago

ACT gets my vote!

Nadine Wynne
4 months ago

Awesome organization helping so many young people

Robbin Vaughn
4 months ago

What an awesome cause you are sponsoring!

Nelson Shawn
4 months ago

Love to see Comegys partnering with such a great cause!

Clinton
4 months ago

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

Steve Simmons
4 months 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
4 months 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
4 months ago

Amazing program!!

Brittany Marr
4 months ago

This is awesome! You have my vote!

Dante Torrent
4 months ago

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

Blythe Millwood
4 months ago

Awesome program!

Michelle
4 months ago

Thanks for supporting the arts!

Eileen Nicola
4 months ago

Awesome organization for our youth.

Naomi Frechette
4 months ago

Excellent agency supporting and excellent organization. Include my vote!

Rachel
4 months ago

My vote is for ACT!

Linda
4 months ago

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

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