Grant helps Rachel Longstreet Foundation, school

The Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area has distributed $400,003.56 among 34 deserving organizations in the region. The foundation's Unrestricted Grants Program is primarily funded by Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournam

Khadijah Philpot has a passion for dancing, but she can't afford to pay for lessons.


A student at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, she receives free dance instruction two days a week after school. This is her fifth year in the program.

"My family is pretty much low-income. We live paycheck to paycheck, just about," said 16-year-old Khadijah. "Here is the only place that accepted me as a student. Dance is my strongest subject."

Through a grant of $14,951.66 awarded to the Rachel Longstreet Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that founded the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, Khadijah dances to music pumped through new sound equipment. When the downstairs portion of the school is complete, she will also benefit from new lighting for musical and theatrical performances. The funds were donated by the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area.

Recently, Khadijah glided across a temporary stage to Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror in preparation for a school showcase next month. She loves virtually all forms of dance -- ballet, tap, jazz, modern, classical, Caribbean and African.

"It really helps me get away from school and home and personal issues. Sometimes when it gets tough at home, I usually just dance my feelings," she said. "Very few people know that I dance. It's sort of like a private journal."

The arts school offers instruction in dance, drama, music and visual art. Khadijah also excels at writing and acting, said her mentor Linda Ball, who has worked with Khadijah for five years through the Teens With Hope program.

"She is really a gifted child. I've seen her evolve, and I think the Jessye Norman Center has a lot to do with it. Her dancing is phenomenal," Ball said.

The high school sophomore hopes to double major in dance and physics in college.

"One day I hope to become a great dancer, but the only thing that really discourages me is the money. This is a very good program for people who can't really afford to go to regular dance companies and get the high-tech and top-notch stuff. We have a lot of talent here," Khadijah said.

Rachel Longstreet Foundation

The Rachel Longstreet Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) foundation established in 2001. It is named for the youngest child buried in the original Fort Augusta cemetery, which is located on the grounds of what is now St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Rachel Longstreet died in 1790, at the age of 2 years, 4 months. Her father was one of the signers of the document of incorporation for Augusta.

The Rachel Longstreet Foundation founded the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, which opened in 2003, as part of its mission to enhance the educational, physical and cultural development of children in the Augusta area by providing quality arts, preschool and recreational opportunities, particularly for children who are economically or physically challenged.

Sources: Rachel Longstreet Foundation, Jessye Norman School of the Arts

Helping Groups

SUNDAY: The Lydia Project

MONDAY: Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

TUESDAY: The Art Factory Inc.

WEDNESDAY: Augusta Urban Ministries

THURSDAY: Full Circle Refuge Inc.

FRIDAY: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta

SATURDAY: Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta

TODAY: Rachel Longstreet Foundation

MONDAY: Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center