World Dance for Humanity bridges cultures through movement and helps people in need by supporting small, sustainable, grassroots projects locally and in the developing world. All charitable donations and class fees go to underserved communities where a small amount of money can inspire hope and change lives, and where we can develop deep connections to the people we serve.
In 2010, Janet Reineck set out to combine her background in anthropology, humanitarian aid, and dance, and started a nonprofit, “World Dance for Humanity.” She turned an ordinary dance class into something extraordinary: a community of people reaching beyond themselves to make a real change in the world.
Through the years, WD4H has funded grassroots projects in Nepal, Guatemala, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Uganda. Since 2013, we have been focused on Rwanda, where we are helping 9,500 people in 25 rural cooperatives left divided and destitute by the 1994 Genocide. The communities are led by Genocide survivors who formed agricultural cooperatives in an effort to stay alive.
We provide the co-ops with goats and cows, farmland, stipends for students, training in agriculture, business, and leadership, and seed money for community-run businesses. Our model is grounded in collaboration, trust, and transparency. Our four-person Rwanda team works on a very personal level with the co-op members, helping them envision and plan their projects so they can lift themselves out of poverty and own their transformation. Our daily communication with the team and annual visits to the co-ops give us a deep connection with the communities. We are witnessing an extraordinary transformation as these people acquire the resources, skills, and confidence they need to move beyond their tortured past, believe in each other, and create a sustainable livelihood together.
Thanks to an annual grant that covers our modest overhead, 100% of all class proceeds and donations go to the work in Rwanda.
World Dance for Humanity also helps out in our local community, reaching out to wheelchair-bound seniors and disabled adults through music and movement, providing volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club, partnering local students with their Rwandan counterparts through a Sister School program, and bringing our spirit and energy to community events that support justice and inclusion. Our work is innovative and impactful, both in the approach to community-building here at home, and to humanitarian aid halfway around the world.
Meet World Dance Instructor and WD4H Executive Director, Janet Reineck, PhD
Janet earned a Master’s degree in Dance Ethnology from UCLA and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She lived in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) for eight years, first conducting research, then as the director of rural development projects for Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Returning to Santa Barbara in 1997, Janet became a professional fundraiser, directing development efforts for local charities. Her goal in creating World Dance in 2010 was to share the joy of international music and dance while serving people in need.