First Lady Michelle Obama presented National Arts and Humanities Awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs, including three from New York City, in the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The awards recognize programs across the country that provide arts education to young people in underserved communities.
The honorees from New York were the New-York Historical Society's Student Historians program, The DreamYard Project and the New York City Urban Debate League.
The first lady said the programs are critical to helping students perform well in school and prepare for college.
"You see kids who never considered going to college finally saying to themselves, 'Well, if I can publish my own writing, if I can create my own artwork, if I can get up in front of all of these people and perform anywhere, including the East Room of the White House, well then certainly I can go to college, right?" said Obama.
"I am a fifteen-year-old who is living big dreams and debate has helped me to articulate these dreams and to act on them successfully," said Sara Arroyo, a member of the New York City Urban Debate League. "I am a kid from the South Bronx and standing here in the White House, I feel the world is full of possibilities."
Each of the winning organizations will receive a $10,000 grant to develop its programs.