National Arts in Education Week

This past week was the National Arts in Education Week all across our country. I was in Indianapolis for the Arts Education Partnership annual convening where local and national arts organizations presented evidence of their work in schools as teaching artists, researchers and supporters of the arts.

What do arts in education leaders talk about at conferences like this? Two things on their agenda during this conference were quality and equity.


National Endowment for the Arts

There were many presentations on the quality of arts programs across the country. For example, the National Endowment for the Arts offered two examples of research labs conducting rigorous work on the quality of arts education.

Since 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) research grants portfolio has focused on generating new knowledge about the value and impact of the arts. Now, through a series of cooperative agreements, the NEA is establishing a national program that permits transdisciplinary research teams, grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, to engage with the NEA’s five-year research agenda. The National Endowment for the Arts Research Labs (NEA Research Labs) program will yield empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike.

Each of the NEA Research Labs will design a research agenda, conduct a program to implement its own agenda, and prepare reports and other products that contribute substantively to a wider understanding of one of three areas of special interest to the NEA. Sustained methods of inquiry into these topic areas will have distinctive benefits for the arts community, but also for sectors such as healthcare, education, and business or management. The three topic areas that our Labs are covering are:

As the federal agency of record on arts research, the NEA, through its Office of Research & Analysis, produces accurate, relevant, and timely analyses and reports that reveal the conditions and characteristics of the U.S. arts ecosystem and the impact of the arts on our everyday lives. The NEA Research Labs add important cross-sector resources to the agency’s collection of publications such as, A Decade of Arts Engagement: Findings From the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, 2002–2012, funding opportunities such as  Research: Art Works, leading the Federal Agency Taskforce on Human Development, and producing other data resources. The NEA Research Labs initiative will help to fulfill milestones of a new five-year research agenda, available on the NEA’s website.

Young Audiences

Our mission is to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts.

The national organization called Young Audiences has been looking at a national residency that would give teaching artists a professional credential.

Established in 1952, Young Audiences Arts for Learning (YA) is the nation’s largest arts-in-education learning network, serving more than 5 million children and youth each year in more than 7,000 schools and community centers across the country.

The YA Network is comprised of 30 diverse affiliates, each dedicated to delivering arts-integrated programming and impacting arts-in-education policies and practices at the local level. Explore our network!


John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has embarked on helping teachers document student work in arts integration.

Hundreds of Teachers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area learn ways to teach in, through, and about the arts. School Administrators learn ways to harness the power of the arts for learning. Teaching Artists learn ways to be more effective in their work with students and teachers.

Learn more about the kennedy center approach to arts integration and the ceta schools.

“Our whole school is integrating the arts, thanks to the CETA program. The culture of our school is completely different because the arts are a regular part of instruction in classrooms on a continual basis. It has changed the way we define our school.”– CETA Teacher

Independent Lens: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

One of the great surprises at the conference this year was Lois Vossen who is the founding and executive producer of Independent Lens. Her company’s new film, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a documentary of Fred Rogers and a look back on the legacy of his impact on generations of TV-watching children. The surprise was how authentic the values were in the story behind the man, described by Vossen as about kindness, ethics, equity, and reaching children authentically. One of his two children said it was hard living with the second coming of Christ! We all thought this was an important story to remember in these political times.

Massachusetts Celebration of Arts Week

At the end of the week I was back at Mass Arts celebrating  with Americans for the Arts, Arts for learningMass CreativeMass Council on the ArtsEdVestors, and the Boston Public School Arts Departments. 


Arts Supporters

One of the best supporting programs to the arts is EdVestors, who were at the national arts celebration as well as at the Boston reception:



Since our founding in 2002, EdVestors has partnered with donors to invest more than $26 million in urban school improvement initiatives, with a special focus on Boston’s public schools. Current funding opportunities for school-based projects include:

School Solutions Seed Fund

Through the School Solutions Seed Fund, EdVestors seeks to identify promising solutions that address current challenges facing teachers and school leaders in their classrooms and schools with the goal of improving learning outcomes for students. Initial grants of $10,000 are available for six-month pilot projects, with the opportunity for funded projects to qualify for larger investments the following school year based on early indicators of success and the potential for impact. The next deadline to apply will be in November 2018. Application guidelines will be announced in Summer 2018. Last year’s application can be found here.

BPS Arts Expansion

The BPS Arts Expansion Fund was created in 2009 by a group of local funders in collaboration with EdVestors to address an arts gap in schools. The Fund supports programs that expand or deepen arts learning opportunities for Boston Public Schools students during the school day. The Fund prioritizes grants that contribute to increasing the number of students receiving arts instruction (once-weekly, year-long arts instruction at the preK-8 level, any arts increases at the high school level) in schools that are not yet providing arts instruction to 100% of students. The BPS Arts Expansion Fund is no longer accepting applications for the 2018-2019 school year. See more information about the Fund here.

Zeroing in on Math

Launched in 2015 in response to a quiet crisis of math education in Boston – where only a third of eighth graders are proficient in math on state exams – Zeroing in on Math (ZioM) partners with teachers, school leaders, and district and charter leaders to move the needle on middle grades math proficiency (grades 3 through 8) as a critical gateway to higher level math in high school.  In addition to investments in professional learning and fellowship opportunities for Boston math educators, EdVestors works with schools to better understand how technology-based interventions can be part of the solution for closing knowledge and skill gaps in middle grades math. Total investments per school in the intervention cohort range from $5,000 to $12,000. For more information on Zeroing in on Math, click here.

School on the Move Prize

First awarded in 2006, the School on the Move Prize is an annual $100,000 prize to one of Boston’s most improving schools. The Prize showcases schools that have made significant improvement relative to their peers and creates opportunities for the sharing of the winning school’s best practices through an annual case study. Boston Public Schools may apply for the School on the Move Prize by invitation only.
Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from EdSpeak

Discover the tools and strategies modern schools need to help their students grow.

Community Schools Reform

As a seasoned researcher of K-12 public schools and someone dedicated to improving the quality, equity, and creativity in education, I wholeheartedly support the proposal

Read More »

Subscribe to EdSpeak!

The SchoolWorks Lab Blog, connecting teaching to policy through research.