About Us

Moves and Grooves, or M.A.G., was founded in 2002 by Dr. Emerald Mitchell of Portland Oregon. While in high school, Dr. Mitchell graduated from the Self Enhancement Inc. Program, which is the model for Moves and Grooves. As a graduate of a performing arts high school, Dr. Mitchell understood the profound impact the arts could have in a young person's life. In the spirit of "giving back" she decided to volunteer her dance talents at a local community center near her university. Soon a community center that was filled with students who had no motivation, were noticed concentrating and working hard to learn the intricate rhythmic moves Dr. Mitchell had choreographed. A tattered community center storage room, was now a make-shift dance studio where students could come to get help with homework and find freedom through dance.

After being established as a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2003, the organization began a contract with 3 Metro Nashville Public Schools to provide dance and tutoring inside the classroom. Since those humbled beginnings, Moves & Grooves has opened its own doors in the heart of South Nashville, Tennessee to serve over 200 annually. In 2012, the organization was selected by Mayor Karl Dean as a NAZA (Nashville After Zone Alliance) Anchor Partner. Currently, the after school program has expanded to serve 75 additional students who attend Croft, Apollo, Antioch, Thurgood Marshall, IT Creswell and John Early Middle Schools in Davidson County. The organization opened it's 1st elementary site in January 2015 serving 60 students at AZ Kelley Elementary school. This was a huge accomplishment as A.Z. Kelley is a feeder school into Thurgood Marshall, Antioch and Apollo Middle where the organization is currently operating.

This art-infused Project Based Learning experience is FREE of charge to all middle students attending these schools. The organization has also been privileged to receive two editorial interviews highlighted in the Tennessean newspaper in 2013-2014 and received financial support from the HCA Foundation, Metro Development & Housing Agency. The organization recently received a multi-year grant from the 21st Century LEAPS Lottery Fund to support additional STEM programing afterschool for young girls. Wal-Mart, Tennessee Arts Commission and generous donors across the state have also continued to support our enrichment efforts.

Moves & Grooves is a non-profit organization seeking to inspire youth to create for themselves, discover, learn and grow through the arts. As Moves & Grooves celebrates over a decade of service, it is a testament to young people that using your talents to inspire others is one of the most powerful things that you can do in life and using your gifts to serve others can be most rewarding. In 2015 and beyond, Moves & Grooves will continue to fulfill its mission to empower youth through the arts. By creating relevant programs for youth and connecting with the needs of the community, we will be equip to serve the youth of Middle Tennessee with the very BEST in quality arts, health and education services!


  • Through hard work and perseverance, Moves & Grooves student Jasmine Blackburn was selected as a performer in this year’s Holiday Magic Nutcracker performance with the Nashville Ballet. “Moves & Grooves helped me to build confidence in myself to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. I am grateful for the help from Mrs. Mitchell and other staff at Moves & Grooves who always encouraged me to do my best!”

    Jasmine Blackburn

After a 2 month intensive planning, pageant campaign and over 600 student votes the Croft Middle School NAZA program crowns Reagan Jones as its 2013 Sweetheart of the Year. Over 100 students and families gathered in the Croft Middle School gym on February 9, 2013 for the Moves & Grooves 2013 Sweetheart Dinner and Dance. This fundraising event was the idea of the 30 Moves & Grooves NAZA participants at Croft Middle School as a means to raise funds for their end of year field trip. Students worked in teams to plan decorations, color schemes, food, and gift basket ideas for the winner. The Moves & Grooves Sweetheart dance was a huge success as the event raised $1,000 to support Croft Middle School and the Moves & Grooves NAZA program.

Kanellar Carney is a Junior at East Literature Magnet High and a State Champion in Track and Field. Kanellar has been a member of Moves & Grooves since the 4th grade and continues to win hearts and gold medals throughout the state with the Continental Tea Bells Women's Track Team. Kanellar recently took 1st Place in the High Jump, Long Jump, 100 meter hurdles, 300 meter hurdles and scored a personal best of 3450 in the Pentathlon at the TSSAA A-AA Middle Division in May 2010. Kanellar is a young star in the making and a young lady who knows that success does not come without hard work. We are proud of Miss Carney and look forward to another golden moment as she graduates with her high school diploma and pursues her college career in May 2012.

Jhaquelle Love is a senior at Overton High School and force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. Jhaquelle is a 6ft 2inch, 270lb offensive and defensive lineman for the Overton High School Bobcats. On the contrary to his physical appearance, Jhaquelle is a soft-natured young man with a heart of gold. When Jhaquelle began the Moves & Grooves summer program as a 5th grade student at W.A. Bass Middle School, he was very quiet and kept to himself. As the years went by and he became more comfortable, Jhaquelle became the life of the party. In 2008, Jhaquelle came back to the program not as a student, but as an employee. Jhaquelle worked with the students of Moves & Grooves after-school and during the summer as a high school Junior Counselor. Teaching respect and responsibility to boys and girls who were just like him, was something that made him feel proud. Jhaquelle says that "giving back" and sharing the gifts that one has been given, is something that he treasures. Jhaquelle is planning to attend college in the Fall of 2011 and has already been sought after by several universities throughout the south. Jhaquelle looks to attend college at Middle Tennessee State University on a football scholarship. We look forward to seeing his name in lights, very soon.

You may not be able to tell, but Shanese Brown used to be a shy timid young girl who would rather be in the background than in front of any camera. In June 2010 when Shanese joined the Ladies of Purpose mentoring program, she would have never dreamed that she'd be standing in the spotlight. After graduating from the Ladies of Purpose program, Shanese continued to be an active participant for Moves & Grooves. Helping elementary school students with reading and craft activities.  As well as volunteering to speak to young teens about healthy living, the importance of setting goals and working diligently to achieve them. On October 8th, Shanese was crowned Miss Tennessee Teen USA and is set to compete for the crown of Miss Teen USA in Nassau, Bahamas in 2012. “If it wasn’t for Moves & Grooves and the Ladies of Purpose program, I wouldn’t be the confident person you see today. Ms. Kifah and Mrs. Emerald saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and I am thankful for them and what they do for young girls like me.”

Raven Taylor is a Moves & Grooves student who struggled with body image and self esteem issues, which often affected her work in school. “When I joined the Moves & Grooves summer program, I didn’t want to dance or exercise.” With consistent support and motivation from her new friends, Raven would soon be teaching other students how to move and groove. “Now, I like to dance and teach other kids too, that really makes me happy.” Raven is not only involved in dance with Moves & Grooves, she recently ran a 5K marathon with her peers in November of this year. The entire Moves & Grooves family celebrated as Raven was announced as making the Principal’s List, earning all A’s on her report card this quarter. “I’m happy now, because I know I am beautiful and smart. I thank Ms. Ashley and Mrs. Mitchell at Moves & Grooves for pushing me to keep going, no matter what.”