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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Sherri S
1 month ago

Well done

Jason
9 months ago

Awesome organization !

Shannon
9 months ago

ACT

Patti Knowles
10 months ago

Happy to vote for this great organization.

Jason
10 months ago

Wonderful cause and program !!

Nadine Wynne
10 months ago

wonderful organization

Angela Leischner
10 months ago

ACT gets my vote!!

Bryan Barger
11 months ago

ACT is doing great work for some great kids. I hope they’re able to enroll more students and change more lives.

Susan
11 months ago

ACT gets my vote! Great job!

Wayne Atherholt
1 year ago

Invaluable organization in St Pete! Doing amazing things all the time!

Kara
1 year ago

Wow! What am amazing program. Thanks for the hard work!

Brittany
1 year ago

Vote

Tim Hudson
1 year ago

Awesome group!

KayKay Smith
1 year ago

ACT May save a child’s life. It is a vital component to the community and gets my vote. What a wonderful program for our youth

Grant
1 year ago

What an amazing cause! Wonderful program!

Mary Lynn Wilkin
1 year ago

ACT has made an impact from day 1 in the community

Last edited 1 year ago by Mary Lynn Wilkin
Hannah
1 year ago

ACT is the BEST organization around for our young folks!

Natalie
1 year ago

Awesome Program! Great Cause!

Marshall Burr
1 year ago

#1 non-profit

Carlos Navedo
1 year ago

Thank you everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wyatt Bayly
1 year ago

awesome!

Diana Ortiz
1 year ago

#1

Desarae Butler
1 year ago

you are awesome

Andre Green
1 year ago

MY ACT

Isabella Correa
1 year ago

thank you

Aniari Shand
1 year ago

#1

Gabrielle Luzcedno
1 year ago

thank you

Shauna Leon
1 year ago

awesome

Ethan Nguyon
1 year ago

thank you!

Mercedes Mendez
1 year ago

thank you

Shania Leon
1 year ago

#1

Vanessa Martins
1 year ago

ACT thank you!

Sameer Alshaer
1 year ago

thank you

Liz Dimmitt
1 year ago

ACT is awesome.

Zachndria Gibson
1 year ago

Amazing work 🙂

Rayjah Prince
1 year ago

Great work

Rayjah Prince
1 year ago

Love act

Byron Reynolds
1 year ago

Good work

Kyle Banton
1 year ago

Happy to help, great organization

Saira Bernadino
1 year ago

Saira went to largo

Kayden Krumwiddee
1 year ago

I hope you win

Kayden Krumwiddee
1 year ago

Happy to help act win

Jeseenia Cintron
1 year ago

Jessenia did dance at largo

Kylie Trinbly
1 year ago

Kylie went to largo act

Edison Casios
1 year ago

ACT at largo

Kaitlin Brinner
1 year ago

Nice

Kirah Garrison
1 year ago

Awesome. so happy for students.

Patricia Simone
1 year ago

Wonderful community effort for our teens!

Isabella Longo
1 year ago

ACT helped isabella a lot

Isabella Longo
1 year ago

Izzy loves act

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