ALEGRIA empowers youth in need through music and arts education.

ALEGRIA's music program enables 60 students to study classical music intensively each week in La Sagrada Familia, the orphanage we partner with in Lima, Peru. Join us in giving hope to our young music students.

Part of a longer short documentary by Adam Sjoberg.

From ALEGRIA's students, about what joy and art means to them. This was filmed in 2010, and now 5 years later, these students are the same age as the students in our music program. 

The Need


867 children live in La Comunidad de La Sagrada Familia, an orphanage community in Callao, a poverty-ridden province on the outskirts of Lima. 

In the decade after The Shining Path, a terrorist organization in Peru, 8 million people moved to Lima from the rest of the country. Many left sustainable lives in search of safety and a better life in Lima, only to face abject poverty. Lima grew from 1 million to 9 million in about a decade. Today, there are shantytowns in every direction heading out of Lima's metropolitan center.

Children are affected the most. Many live in the street, join street gangs, and are abandoned by their families, ending up in orphanage communities or worse. La Sagrada Familia, the Community we support provides a safe haven of hope for youth in need, many from far regions of Peru.

60% of the children living in Peru live in poverty. (INEI)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated the number of street children to be in the tens of millions worldwide, with around 25 million in Latin America.

The Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Information (INEI) calculates the number of children working in the streets of Lima to be around 6,550.

In Lima it is estimated that around 3% of children living on the streets are under 6 years old. 250,000 children are working on the city's streets. In San Juan de Lurigancho and Cercado de Lima districts, over 25,000 children are considered to be at very high risk of taking to a life on the streets. (Consortium for Street Children)


ALEGRIA was founded in 2010 in response to ALEGRIA Founder, Shay Grabowski, visiting Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia orphanage community outside Lima, Peru as a teaching artist. In collaboration with her local Peruvian community, she sought to provide access to arts education to the youth living at La Sagrada Familia. Initial programming consisted of short-term intensive workshops, exposing hundreds of La Sagrada Familia's youth to new art forms such as photography and improv theatre. In 2013, programming was expanded to New York City through a partnership with Sanctuary for Families, New York State's leading service provider for and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex-trafficking and related forms of gender violence. Programming consisted of 5-7 week multidisciplinary art courses, taught by volunteer artists.

In 2011, ALEGRIA began supporting La Sagrada Familia's music program. ALEGRIA initially provided musical instruments each year. In 2014, Peru programming grew to include a full time on-site classical music teacher.  


Shay Grabowski founded ALEGRIA with the belief that all children need creative expression and arts education, and that given the tools and opportunity, children can re-imagine a new future for their lives. 

Under Shay's leadership, ALEGRIA has grown from small group of committed founding members to a large international community of supporters, artists, and professionals serving over 1,000 youth in need.

Shay is a bilingual, multidisciplinary creative, creating professionally as an Art Director and Designer for major brands. She is passionate about art and design, cultivating community, and building bridges between communities who have much to offer each other. She serves as President of ALEGRIA's Board of Directors. It is such a joy for her to see ALEGRIA's students thrive in their lives. 



Erika Martinez

Erika Martínez coordinates ALEGRIA's Programming in Lima, Peru on a volunteer basis. She is a licensed psychologist currently working in human resources. She feels called to work with people to improve their life qualities and self-esteem. Art has always been part of her life in different ways, as a child she began dancing and over the years was exposed to different art forms and learned to appreciate them. Since the beginning of its founding, she has helped ALEGRIA to implement plans to become a reality in Lima.


Claudia Reyna

Claudia serves as ALEGRIA's Peruvian Creative Director. She was born and raised in Lima, Peru and studied at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) with a major in Industrial Design. Her foray into art and design ranged from photography to poetry to music. She feels the need to share what she knows and believes that everyone should have the same opportunities to learn. Claudia has served as a medium to tell the story about La Sagrada Familia and the ALEGRIA projects to the Lima artists and designer communities.


Talía Castro-Pozo - Performing Artist

Ufei Chan - Corporate Sustainability, Citigroup

Shay Grabowski - Founder of ALEGRIA | Creative Director 

Nancy Mammana - Vice President, The Marketing Arm

Founding Members

Renee Chan, Founding Board Member

Kathleen Clancy, Founding Board Member

Shay Grabowski, Founding Board Member

Chinae Alexander, Desiree Buchanan, Erin Cave, Amelia Charles, Nathan Clancy, Marianelly Diaz, Rachel Graves, Jerrold Jackson, Enrique Jiminez, Melina Kemph, Jean-Michelle Lopez, Erika Martinez, Marcos Martinez, Nate Poekert, Claudia Reyna, Karina Seisnegas, Becky Shim Paguia, Megan Shepherd, Adam Sjoberg


Now that you know more about us, take a look at what's behind our work.