1 in 43 children in America has a parent incarcerated.

70% of those children are expected to end up in prison

The Effects of Mass Incarceration

Our county has a long-standing history of high incarceration rates among minority communities. The statistics and facts are staggering. But the impact incarceration has on youth and families is rarely a part of the conversation. Youth who are affected by the incarceration of a loved one are more likely to develop:

  • Cognitive and noncognitive problems
  • Relatively low-average performance in school
  • Concentration difficulties that create challenges for teachers and schools

Why The Arts

The arts not only enrich our lives, communities, and culture, but they are also vital to a child’s education. A growing body of studies presents compelling evidence that links student engagement in the arts to both academic and social benefits.

For example, exposure to art education promotes self-directed learning, improves school attendance, and sharpens critical and creative skills. Additionally, research has shown that the skills acquired through the arts may help them to master other subjects, such as reading, math, or social studies.

To answer the “why” behind what we do, the evidence is clear. Studying the arts contributes to student achievement and success in school and beyond.

A Personal Glance

Story of Michael’s Daughter


Ciera Payton knows all too well the impact that the arts have on underserved communities and at-risk youth. Growing up in the third-ward neighborhood of New Orleans, an area riddled with drug trafficking and poverty, Ciera had first hand experience observing her family members battling various drug and alcohol addiction. Her father was a drug dealer which eventually landed him in prison.

Ciera gravitated towards the arts; performing monologues, drawing, and singing her favorite Disney songs. She didn’t realize then that she was using arts as her coping mechanism and that it allowed her to express herself and feel important.

In high school she went to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts a performing arts school, where she was encouraged to use art as a healthy alternative and coping tool. So she chose to do just that which inspired her to pursue a career in acting. Later, Ciera would compile her life experience into a one-woman show titled Michael’s Daughter

As a teaching artist, she learned that she wasn’t alone in her experience and that many of her students had parents and loved ones behind bars due to drug and alcohol abuse. She saw how the arts programs she taught presented a solution for those students needing art as a way to channel their pain.

So she decided to create the Michael’s Daughter Project; a program that blends her experience as a teaching artist, actor, and writer. By providing programs, services, and charity for kids and adults who have the need to be heard and express themselves, The Michael’s Daughter Foundation is an organization that promotes thriving in our communities. This is why the programs provided by Michael’s Daughter Foundation has remained so successful for years, drawing big audiences, returning participants, and new collaborators.

Our Impact

We’ve Helped Thousands of Families


To date, we’ve helped uplift and change the lives of thousands of families affected by incarceration. And we’ve done it all thanks to the power of the arts.

The Michael’s Daughter Foundation hosts a variety of workshops, summer, and residency sessions each year. These sessions are meant to keep at-risk youth and families in a creatively engaged space by allowing them to create original performances and visual art.

We nurture and encourage their greatness by promoting a judgment-free and emotionally safe space fueled by artistic expression. Our goal is to foster hope and a renewed perspective for everyone, regardless of their current situation.

In the long term, our programs have proven to spark change in the lives of everyone involved. We’ve had many former participants who have been so inspired by our classes that they were led to producing professional works of art.


The work we do at The Michael’s Daughter Foundation is all about providing tools to our communities so that they may thrive and make a revolutionary shift within their lives.

By providing arts programs, scholarships, and emergency funds to youth and families battling the drug addiction and/or incarceration of a loved one, we are fostering these five basic concepts.

Each principle helps us accomplish our mission to leave a huge impact on our communities, showing them we are here to listen and elevating them in the process.



When our participants engage in our art programs, they are challenged with the task of speaking up and being seen. Most often, when a child has a loved one behind bars, their self-esteem and confidence are the first to go. Creating performance pieces originating from their life experiences provides them the very tools that they need to feel validated and seen.



This is the core of our programs and charity here at The Michael’s Daughter Foundation. We believe in having compassion for everyone. We teach this basic fundamental to our participants and grantees by always holding an open space for judgment-free discussion.



We aim to teach our participants and grantees to have a sense of integrity in their actions and in their work. Again, with compassion, we can all do some good, all the time and anytime.


Motivation & Encouragement

Our services are meant to motivate and encourage. We aim to instill in our participants and grantees that they can evolve their current situation and they can aim to pursue their dreams.



It’s important that we help those who come to us to see the importance of not only receiving help but also creating goals and action steps to make change. We track the progress of our participants and grantees on a yearly basis. We always welcome open communication and may at times be able to provide insight and counsel to help our community become better.


Years In Service
Participants Reached


Asbury, Carolyn and Rich, Barbara. Learning, Arts and the Brain: The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition. Dana Press, New York, NY: 2008.


Deasy, Richard J. Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. Arts Education Partnership. Washington, D.C.: 2002.


Deasy, Richard and James Catterall. Increasing Student Achievement Through The Arts. American Youth Policy Forum: 2000.


Ruppert, Sandra. Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement. National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Washington, D.C.: 2006


“2010 Final Report, The Role of the Arts in Educating America for Great Leadership and Economic Strength. Americans for the Arts: National Arts Policy Roundtable. Washington, D.C.: 2011


Mass Incarceration and Children’s Outcomes; Criminal Justice Policy Is Education Policy.
Report By Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein.:2016


Arts For Life Website. Mrs. Columbia Bush. 2018