With the fear looming that state budget cuts will impact education programs due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, EdVestors is stepping up to the plate to ensure art remains a vital part of student learning in East Boston.
Last week President & CEO of EdVestors Marinell Rousmaniere announced five Eastie schools will share in $360,000 in Arts Expansion Grants.
Rousmaniere said with the uncertainty around the nature of next year’s school year due to the pandemic, the grants aim to ensure students across Boston continue to receive high-quality arts education which is essential to meeting their academic, social, and emotional needs.
The five Eastie schools, and 55 other schools across the district, will work with more than 30 arts partners across the city focused on ensuring that all BPS students – regardless of where they attend school – have access to a high quality arts education.
In Eastie the Adams Elementary, O’Donnell Elementary, Bradley Elementary, East Boston High School and the McKay K-8 School will receive grant funding.
“Arts education is an integral part of students’ social emotional well-being and engagement, whether schooling is in person or remote. The pandemic coupled with the heightened attention to racial injustice has been tremendously difficult for students, and arts education is a powerful and effective tool in helping them to process and share complex emotions,” said Rousmaniere. “Schools everywhere should be moving mountains to provide access to quality arts education, as so many BPS leaders, teachers, and arts partners have done in the last three months. We are proud to work with all our partners in keeping this commitment to ensure BPS students have access to high quality arts education.”
Superintendent of the Boston Public School Dr. Brenda Cassellius said the newly announced grants for the 2020-2021 school year highlight the importance of arts education, particularly in the current climate. Cassellius said given the uncertainty and the challenges faced by families throughout Boston, students need arts education now more than ever, as it helps them creatively engage with their classmates and communities, combat isolation, process their feelings, and express themselves.
Throughout the period of remote learning, the arts have thrived in the Boston Public Schools, with arts educators thinking outside the box with ways to ensure their students still have the ability to creatively express themselves.
“For over a decade, the BPS Arts Expansion initiative has built an incredible legacy in our schools, and the latest round of grants will help support a variety of arts education programs that are essential to meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students,” said Dr. Cassellius. “Arts education and student expression contribute to a student’s sense of self and confidence, which is critical now more than ever during these extraordinary and challenging times. We are grateful for these grants and programs, which support our commitment to ensuring access to arts education programs for all students.”
Despite school closures, arts programming continued through the spring with BPS arts teachers and partners providing theater, dance, visual art, and vocal and instrumental musical instruction virtually. In the last month, EdVestors, in partnership with Open Door Arts, an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation; Boston Public Schools (BPS); Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) and the YMCA of Greater Boston secured and distributed thousands of art supply kits to Boston students in need so they had access to necessary supplies and tools to be creative that are otherwise unavailable to them during the shutdown.
“Over the years, we’ve been proud to collaborate with BPS, EdVestors and members of the arts community to develop and increase access to innovative arts programming” said Nicole Agois Hurel, Managing Director of Open Door Arts, an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation that increases access, participation, and representation of people with disabilities in the arts. “Given the unprecedented challenges that students faced in adapting to online learning and the uncertainty concerning what the 2020-2021 school year will look like, the BPS Arts Expansion initiative plays an even more important role in bringing together members of the education and arts communities to ensure that our students have equal access to a wholesome arts education experience.”
Over the last 11 years, BPS Arts Expansion has leveraged increased public funding for arts teaching positions in BPS schools, resulting in nearly 17,000 additional students receiving arts instruction during the school day.
Core donors include the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation and Linde Family Foundation.