East Boston Schools Receive Funding to Expand Arts Education

EdVestors, an urban education improvement non-profit in Boston announced today the 2017 BPS Arts Expansion Fund Grants, a commitment of $600,000 in grants to schools working with nonprofits and/or teaching artists to expand, sustain or deepen access to arts education for BPS students.

​Eight schools in Charlestown and East Boston will receive funding.

The grants have been awarded to 67 elementary, middle and high schools and 37 arts partners to continue to expand arts learning opportunities in schools, and to nonprofit arts organizations to provide professional development for BPS arts teachers.

East Boston and Charlestown Schools that have received funding include:

Warren Prescott K-8 School, Charlestown

Harvard/Kent Elementary School, Charlestown

Charlestown High School, Charlestown

Bradley Elementary School, East Boston

O’Donnell Elementary School, East Boston

Mario Umana Academy, East Boston

Adams Elementary School, East Boston

East Boston High School, East Boston

The BPS Arts Expansion initiative began in 2009 as an effort to expand arts education, with a focus on increasing access, equity, and quality. As a result of this work, there are now 80 percent more BPS arts teachers working with 70 community arts partners to deliver arts instruction to 17,000 more students annually compared to eight years ago. From 2009-2017, the percentage of BPS pre-K-through-8th-grade students receiving a minimum of weekly, year-long arts instruction or its equivalent increased from 67 percent to 95 percent.

“We are proud to support schools across the city as they work to improve access to quality arts education for their students.” said Laura Perille, President and CEO of EdVestors. “As we’ve known for many years, these programs offer invaluable opportunities for students to learn, engage and thrive in their schools.

The announcement comes as the City of Boston celebrates the first anniversary of the launch of its cultural plan, Boston Creates, which aims to make arts and culture as fundamental to the city’s identity as its history and traditions.

“As we approach the first anniversary of Boston Creates, we’re proud to announce the next phase of our partnership with Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, which is increasing access to arts education,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Through Boston Creates, we are working to ensure that access to arts and culture, including arts education, is accessible to all.”

A poll conducted by MassINC Polling for the Boston Foundation found that 93% of Boston voters support government funding for arts education in the public schools. Public funding for arts education has increased by more than $11M annually over the course of BPS Arts Expansion, up to $26M in 2016 from $15M in 2009.

In the fourth phase of BPS Arts Expansion, the City and BPS, in collaboration with lead partner EdVestors, will raise $2.5M in private funds to sustain high levels of arts education in the district over the next three years. To date, over $1.75M has been raised toward the new goal. The Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation and the Linde Family Foundation have stepped up to help ensure all preK-8 students receive weekly year-long arts instruction and that 100 percent of BPS high school graduates meet the Massachusetts Core graduation requirement of one year of arts instruction.

“We have heard clearly from students, families, teachers and principals that arts matter in their schools,” said Laura Perille, President & CEO of EdVestors. “We are proud to work with the City, the Boston Public Schools and our committed philanthropic partners to promote increased access to arts across the system. This initiative has made an enormous difference by giving thousands more children the opportunity to express their creativity and increase engagement with each other, their schools and the community. We are delighted it will continue.”

The impact of BPS Arts Expansion can be seen on display this week at the annual BPS Citywide Arts Festival, as student performers from dozens of schools converge in a celebration of the power of creativity, joined by parents and community members. The Festival, which runs June 6 through June 8, features students ranging from kindergarten through high school presenting, musical, dance, spoken word & theater performances.

“BPS Arts Expansion is a terrific example of equity and innovation in our district’s schools,” said Dr. Tommy Chang, Boston Public Schools Superintendent. “By providing quality arts opportunities to greater numbers of our young people, we are closing opportunity gaps.  The arts have been a critical element of successful school improvement by making our classrooms more vibrant and engaging for students and our schools more welcoming to students and families. BPS is proud to continue this partnership that is a model in our nation.”

More information on the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative and the Citywide Arts Festival is available at http://www.bpsarts.org.

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