How it Started

The Story Behind

MAPS was created in 2005 as a school program focused on bringing elementary school students (grades 4-6) from PS101 (later, Mosaic Scholars) in Harlem, NY together with middle school students (grades 7&8) from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School (PVPA) in South Hadley, MA to write poetry and songs and perform a year-end concert together.

Over the past 13 years MAPS has significantly affected the lives of over 400 students in this profoundly, positive educational program. MAPS has improved the poetry students’ test scores and the songwriters’ songwriting skills. Students learn to write and perform college level poetry and professional level songs, using poetry and music as a bridge across disparate socio-economic and geographic backgrounds.

In its 13th year of operation, MAPS now brings 7-12th graders from PVPA and 9-12 graders from the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers (UAGC) in Manhattan together to realize the strong creative and life connections inherent in the MAPS program.

This class has been a really fantastic experience. From choosing the poems to meeting the kids from Harlem, every second has been a learning experience.

The Anxious Feeling

The anxious feeling. Sweat. Can’t breath. Shivers, can’t do it. Why am I going to audition anyways? To make a fool of myself. BOOOM! Phew, it’s over. It did it! What just happened?! Two days later! I got in, I did it! YES!!! I was so proud of myself. I was really excited! Finally, I’m on the bus, going to New York! When we get there, the kids were there to greet us. The experience of standing on stage, singing my heart out, I’ll never ever forget it. I made so many new friends and learned so much more about music and performing! Thank you.”

 -Rocquel Ackerman

Amazing Team


Jacob Price


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Julia Evans

Sound Manager

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Katherine Robinson


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“This MAPS class that I participated in this past semester was a very interesting experience. I am very glad that I did it because it was rewarding to make songs out of the poems that the kids wrote. The poems were insightful and wise. I am glad that I had the opportunity to do this.” 

Ivy Coles