Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Supporting Effective Arts Education Programs

Philadelphia has traditionally (at least for the last couple of decades) provided all its grant funding of the arts through the Philadelphia Cultural Fund - an independent 501c3 funded by the City - as general operating support. This year, the Cultural Fund's Board agreed to allocate a portion of its grant funds - $350,000 out of $3.2 million - to for the first time make project support grants, specifically grants for arts programming targeted to Philadelphia's youth. Today we announced the first recipients of this new project grants program – the Youth Arts Enrichment Grants – created to support projects that use the arts to enrich the lives of young people both in and outside of school. The inaugural round of grants, totaling $357,700, was awarded to nine youth-focused organizations. [Photo at left from a ceramics class at West Park Cultural Center, one of the grantees] The extra $7,700 available for grant-making was made possible by City employees who made payroll contributions to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund as part of our Employee Combined Campaign - another first this year! All grantees were evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Providing high quality arts instruction, training and participatory experiences that serve those young people most in need, who are unlikely to have access to cultural enrichment;
  • Providing consistent programming that directly impacts the reduction of youth violence, truancy and drop out rates, while increasing the number of graduations and college-bound students;
  • Encouraging arts and cultural programming as an alternative activity for youth in after-school, weekend and summer programs.
“The Youth Arts Enrichment Grants go to the heart of what’s needed across our city and region – the opportunity to provide exposure and knowledge of arts and culture to those who will benefit most – our youth,” said Mayor Nutter. “It’s just this kind of experience that has the capacity to change lives. And as the next generation, it’s that exposure and knowledge which will ultimately give Philadelphia the greatest payback – enabling underserved young people to follow their dream and keep our cultural community vital, thriving and exciting.”

The nine inaugural Youth Arts Enrichment Grants recipients were chosen from a pool of 82 applicants, all of whom were required to have been a 2010 recipient of PCF general operating support and have a budget in excess of $50,000. As with PCF’s established annual grants, a dedicated panel of peers reviewed all applications. In addition to the Cultural Fund Grants Committee and PCF board members who offered to serve, the Youth Arts Enrichment Grants panel also included four guest panelists who are noted experts in Arts Education.

From my perspective, this grant program represents an important attempt to provide significant support to some of our most exemplary programs working with the City's youth population. We know that quality arts experiences and training can make a profound difference in the lives of our young people. In a City that - like many other communities - is struggling with teen violence, truancy, too-high dropout rates, relatively low percentages of kids going onto and graduating from college, ethnic tensions among our youth, etc., making this extra investment in arts groups doing this vital work is really an investment in the future of our City; especially now when so many of these programs are threatened by declining private and public support. In addition, while general support grants remain important and the vast majority of City funding, these grants also provide some specific tangible outcomes in terms of impact that is hard to quanity with the widely distributed general support grants. This is why these grants were intentionally kept of fairly significant size - up to $50,000 each - to make sure that this funding can truly make a difference in support of these worthy programs.

Following  is a list of all grantees


Art-Reach, Inc.
Grant amount: $50,000
  • Project: “Anti-Violence T-shirt Project.” The theme of the project, speaking out against violence, empowers teens to address the type of violence most affecting their lives in 3 phases. Phase I – teens discuss their feeling about violence and develop their ideas about violence prevention; Phase II – students use the art of silk screening to illustrate their message by creating anti-violence designs and slogans; Phase III – develops teens entrepreneurial skills, by teaching them about sales and marketing, selling their t-shirts at a local retail store.
Asian Arts Initiative
Grant amount: $36,023
  • Project: Expansion of Youth Arts Workshop Programming with a Drop-in Style Youth Lounge. The Youth Lounge offers a range of activities – from open studio, to movie discussions and resume-writing – providing a safe, constructive space for all youth.
BuildaBridge International
Grant amount: $50,000
  • Project: Discovery after-school in-shelter program and Artology summer out-of-shelter program. Discovery is designed as an after-school and evening arts education program that brings meaningful art education to homeless children who have little access to such opportunities. Artology is a multi-disciplinary art and science summer camp that serves 4th – 8th graders, 25-50% of whom are homeless and 90% of whom are from low-income households.
The Clay Studio
Grant amount: $50,000
  • Project: Claymobile Outreach Program. Professionally trained arts educators take everything required for a ceramics class to a partner location, and transport student work back to the Claymobile’s support center for firing.
InterAct, Inc.
Grant amount: $25,000
  • Project: Expansion of drama program with De LaSalle in Towne (DELSIT), a year-round, community-based day treatment program for delinquent male youth. The program will support a youth-comprised theatre program called the DELSIT Drama Crew. Activities include: Acting; Playwriting; field trips to the Young Voices High School Monologue Festival; Guest artist performances of monologues and scenes by local professionals; and two student-written and performed productions.
Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble
Grant amount: $29,204
  • Project: Expansion of Omo Kulu Mele (the children of Kulu Mele), a youth development and arts education program. Participants develop skills in dance, music and performance and to build their own creative and leadership abilities. The program incorporates traditional African values and principles as a foundation to establish and build character, unity, self efficiency, a positive self identity, and cultural awareness.
Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership
Grant amount: $50,000
  • Project: An out-of-school time program to integrate the arts with emergent literacy skill building and reinforcement for children ages 5 to 8. The program will provide professional development for artists, parents and caregivers to learn age appropriate methodologies and arts project content development with this student population. The program will then support and conduct action research through artist residencies conducted in underserved neighborhoods through the Philadelphia Free Library system.
Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc.
Grant amount: $36,023
  • Project: Ongoing support of Taller’s Cultural Awareness Program, which serves ages 5-15. The theme for the coming year will be exploring “Growing Green: Art and Nature” to focus on learning how to be green in our community, art center, homes and with ourselves.
West Park Cultural Center
Grant amount: $31,450
  • Project: Arts for Literacy. A program utilizing the performing arts as a tool to engage and stimulate learning for a youth population that comes from underserved and impoverished communities and who demonstrate a disconnect with their studies.

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