EdVestors Reinforces Commitment to High-Quality Arts Education with over $400,000 in Arts Expansion Grants

EdVestors Reinforces Commitment to High-Quality Arts Education with over $400,000 in Arts Expansion Grants

Grants announced on the heels of new longitudinal study showing greater access to arts education leads to improvements in a range of indicators of student success and parent engagement

(PDF of Grant Recipients List)

BOSTON (June 15, 2021) – Building upon its longstanding commitment to ensuring all Boston Public School (BPS) students have access to a high-quality arts education, EdVestors today announced over $400,000 in arts expansion grants that will support nearly 75 schools working with more than 35 arts partners across the city. These grants for the 2021-2022 school year take on new significance in light of results of a longitudinal study released last month detailing the benefits of arts education, including increased student and parent engagement and improved attendance for all students.

“These critical grants will ensure that students have continued access to high-quality arts programs, which will be more important than ever as we promote joyful learning environments to support students’ recovery next fall,” said Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. “When students permanently return to the classroom after more than a year of disrupted learning, arts instruction will play a pivotal role in helping them re-engage with their peers, teachers, and school communities and will improve their social-emotional skill development and overall well-being.”

Last month, EdVestors released a study entitled “The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students,” which examined the positive impacts arts education has had through more than 600,000 K-12 student-level observations over 11 school years, 2008-2009 through 2018-2019. Such granular data will be invaluable to policymakers and school districts as they make decisions on allocating funding for the arts – both in the long-term and in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

“The new research reinforces the purpose of our ongoing BPS Arts Expansion initiative and confirms what we’ve witnessed firsthand over the years. Arts education is a powerful motivator for students to want to attend and engage at school and enables them to express themselves and succeed in ways they often don’t in other subjects,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of EdVestors. “Thanks to our core funders and dedicated partners, we are embarking on the 13th year of BPS Arts Expansion, with the continued goal of increasing equitable access to quality arts education for all of Boston’s public school students.”

“We look forward to partnering with EdVestors once again for this coming school year,” said Alison Croney Moses, Program Director of the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts. “We’re grateful for the support that allows us to ensure that young people have access to essential experiences for their development.”

Since its inception in 2009, 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. BPS arts educators working in partnership with community-based teaching artists and organizations have made this work possible. The initiative continues to focus on expanding access to equitable arts education and deepening arts experiences, while building systems to sustain a high level of arts education long into the future.

Core donors include the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation and Linde Family Foundation. Notably, there has been a significant 5:1 return of increased public investment for every private dollar invested through BPS Arts Expansion. More information on BPS Arts Expansion is available at http://www.bpsarts.org.

 

Media Contact:

Dominic Slowey

dslowey@sloweymcmanus.com

781-710-0014

 

ABOUT EDVESTORS

EdVestors’ mission is to advance equitable, meaningful education that prepares every Boston student to activate their power and shape their future. We drive toward our vision by 1) activating people and resources, 2) learning and iterating in context, and 3) influencing system change. We believe that continuously attending to all three drivers ensures our programs and initiatives will create impact. Since starting in 2002, EdVestors has raised and directed over $35 million for urban school improvement efforts through EdVestors’ Racial Equity Seed Fund, BPS Arts Expansion, the School on the Move Prize, Zeroing in on Math, and Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org

 

#BPSArts4All             @bpsicreate     @edvestors    http://www.edvestors.org

 

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Arts programming in Boston schools linked to attendance, engagement gains

The May 10, 2021 CommonWealth Magazine article by Michael Jonas, “Arts programming in Boston schools linked to attendance, engagement gains”, highlights the recently published The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students research report affirming the effects of Arts Education and it’s positive impacts on student engagement and student attendance particularly in a challenging year of remote learning. From the article:

“A lot of the things that we measure in social science are proxies for a bundle of other things,” Kisida said. “So to see that attendance goes up doesn’t just tell me there are X number of more hours a student is in school. It tells me there’s an effect on the student’s mindset, they’re more engaged, they’re happier there. There are other things going on that are unmeasured, and whatever attendance is a proxy for is probably a more important thing.”

Those unmeasured things, say the researchers and EdVestors leaders, may be more important than ever as schools take on the challenge of reconnecting with students who may have gone a full year without being in school building or in face-to-face interactions with classmates or teachers.

Read the full article here and learn more about BPS Arts Expansion here.

New research finds evidence arts education increases school engagement, attendance among Boston students

The May 10, 2021 Boston Globe article by John Hilliard, “New research finds evidence arts education increases school engagement, attendance among Boston students ”, highlights recently the published The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students research report validating the effects of Arts Education and it’s positive impacts on student engagement, parent engagement, and student attendance. From the article:

The report […] looked at about a decade’s worth of data collected from students and teachers to assess the impact of students’ participation in the arts on their school experience.

Boston schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said in a statement that the new research provides evidence supporting “what we already know: arts education engages students, builds community, expresses our shared humanity and experience, and contributes to joyful learning environments.”

Cassellius said that Boston Public Schools will continue to prioritize the arts “as we promote our students’ social and emotional health to fully recover from this pandemic and reimagine learning for our young people.”

Read the full article here and learn more about BPS Arts Expansion here.

Building Racial Equity into Grantmaking

By Derek Lin

Equity is at the core of our work at EdVestors and essential to our mission to: Advance equitable, meaningful education that prepares every Boston student to activate their power and shape their future. 

Over the last year, EdVestors’ staff and board engaged in a remote Strategic Planning process to build a path for the future of our work. 

Through our many conversations around our core values, strategic goals and strategies, equity rose to the top. Our first strategic goal in our new five year plan is Explicit about Equity: Equity is explicitly at the core of our decision-making and actions in pursuit of every young person in Boston having access to meaningful education. 

Key strategies toward this goal include:

  • Commit explicit resources toward our internal and external commitments to equity
  • Articulate and share our equity commitments in our partnerships and to our broader audiences
  • Make decisions with the voices, interests, and needs of those most impacted by our work at the center
  • Continuously refine and evolve our goals, approach, and commitments related to equity

With our renewed and sharper focus on equity, we began pushing forward on actionable steps, particularly around racial equity. Adapting resources from Center for Assessment and Policy Development, Race Forward/Center for Social Inclusion, and Equity in the Center, we define racial equity as a combination of:

  1. Equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone regardless of race or ethnicity; 
  2. Meaningful involvement of those most impacted by racial inequity and racism in decision making and implementation; 
  3. Addressing root causes of inequities and systemic oppression, where we perpetuate them, and how we can work to eliminate them, leading to racial justice.

A first step for the organization was reimagining our strategic philanthropy by incorporating a more explicit racial equity lens into our grantmaking processes and goals related to several of our focus areas: BPS Arts Expansion, the School Solutions Seed Fund, and Zeroing in on Math.

With BPS Arts Expansion, we streamlined the application and modified criteria to explicitly state Culturally Responsive Instruction and Racial Equity as grantmaking criteria. Culturally Responsive Instruction aligns the proposed arts instruction with BPS’ Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP), reflecting multiple backgrounds and traditions that affirm students’ cultures and respond to their interests. The instruction can center on curriculum specifically curated for students with disabilities, English Learners, or students who have been otherwise marginalized educationally. Grants focused on Racial Equity will support projects that amplify Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) voices and narratives or entail student-driven projects that utilize the arts to advance anti-racism and racial justice.

The newly renamed Racial Equity Seed Fund is the reimagined School Solutions Seed Fund, focusing on tackling racial injustices within education structures. In Boston’s current education system, students of color, particularly Black and Latinx students, are disproportionately impacted by gaps in opportunity and outcomes. Through stakeholder conversations, partnership development, and desire to enact change, the Racial Equity Seed Fund is building an action-based learning community to implement, test, and scale solutions developed by those most impacted in schools to advance racial equity. The pillars of the learning community are to illuminate and be responsive to students’ individual backgrounds, communities, and strengths, while addressing the root causes of systemic oppression in our schools.

For Zeroing in on Math (ZioM), the newly released Request For Proposals seeks to create a cohort of schools that focus on increasing equitable enrollment and student success in math so that all students, especially Black and Latinx students, receive a meaningful math education that is affirming, relevant, and prepares them for postsecondary opportunities. Selected schools can focus on equitable math pathways, culturally responsive instruction and pedagogy, or math cultures as one of their goals.

Through our grantmaking, we hope to learn alongside our partners and communities who inspire us to drive toward racial equity and justice. There is much to do in the work ahead but we look forward to the learning we can do with peers and partners.

 

Derek Lin is the Manager of Communications and Programs at EdVestors.

Learn more about each application through the following links: BPS ArtsRacial Equity Seed FundZeroing in on Math

Designing Virtual Internships in the Creative Sector: Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston 2020

The following blog series will provide a closer look at the Boston-specific Bloomberg Arts Internship program implemented by EdVestors and share the learnings and key takeaways for effective creative youth development and employment models.

BAI Boston 2020 Cohort along with EdVestors staff

The Bloomberg Arts Internship (BAI) is an arts-focused summer internship program in Baltimore, Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia that provides high school interns with paid work experience at cultural organizations along with work readiness and college preparation support. In 2019, EdVestors was selected to be the Boston partner responsible for implementing the BAI program. After a successful pilot summer, EdVestors and the Boston team responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly redesigning and implementing an entirely remote summer program model with the continued support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Boston BAI team was not alone in their efforts to adjust quickly and thoughtfully. For the summer of 2020, Boston’s program went forward with the full support of Mayor Walsh who added $4.1 million in city funding to support new youth employment opportunities and the city’s Summer Jobs Program (this included SuccessLink at the City’s Department of Youth Engagement & Employment, Action for Boston Community Development, John Hancock’s MLK Scholars Program, Youth Options Unlimited managed by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and the Boston’s Private industry Council or Boston PIC). The Boston PIC played an important role in supporting and overseeing the administration of many of the over 3,000 youth employment opportunities citywide. In addition, as was the case in 2019, the PIC was a critical partner for the BAI program, managing the recruitment, interview and student HR needs for the program.

The BAI program is distinct within the ecosystem of summer youth employment programs in Boston due to its integration of the arts as a central facet of the program model. Potential interns are recruited knowing that their worksites will be arts-focused organizations. The interns’ interest in the arts or identity as artists are key elements of student recruitment and hiring. 

In addition, the program incorporates a Creative Youth Development (CYD) approach and philosophy into the program design, which along with creativity and art-making includes: elevating youth voice and leadership; teamwork;  increased self-identity that leads to more personal expression, and connection building. The program also offers opportunities for them to make connections with an array of potential mentors and expand their networks via their worksite supervisors and contacts with program partners (Boston PIC, 826 Boston, executive coach Muadi Dibinga, College Advising Corps).

Below are Lessons Learned from our experience overseeing the BAI Boston program. Subsequent blog posts will dive deeper into  best practices for youth-centered creative virtual internships with direct examples from intern experiences.

Lessons Learned

  • Virtual youth internships are effective with the right worksite staff and wrap-around supports.
    EdVestors staff developed clear criteria for selecting worksites that led to the identification and selection of arts and cultural institutions which were well suited to supervise and support high school-age interns. Partnering with arts and culture organizations provided a strong foundation for approaching program implementation from the lens of CYD. Selected institutions demonstrated experience with and commitment to employing and supervising high school age youth as part of their original application process. In the midst of the pandemic pivot, EdVestors and partner institutions were able to quickly make high leverage adjustments (e.g. redesigning internship schedule for a virtual format) and provide coordinated supports due to a shared commitment to CYD strategies and decision-making approach in support of students. EdVestors also was able to leverage its role and knowledge as a citywide intermediary organization for arts education to provide operational and strategic support to worksites throughout the planning and implementation of the internship.
  • Structuring the program to have a wide array of adults involved in the program implementation enabled the interns to develop meaningful adult relationships and mentor-like support systems.
    By the spring of 2020 it became clear to the EdVestors staff that the BAI program would be entirely remote. With this in mind, the staff made a deliberate decision to develop additional mentor-like support from caring adults for the participating interns, given the inherent challenges associated with the interns having to work remotely. This goal was critical in the success of the summer, as the interns had an array of adults with whom they could connect and learn together.
  • Using arts as a theme encouraged and promoted interns to “share their best selves”, find commonalities with one another and with their worksite supervisors, and provided a platform for self-expression and youth voice.
    The Boston BAI program builds on the best practice principles and characteristics of CYD, which see young people as active agents of their own change, with strengths and skills to be developed and supported. Program components explicitly created an experience that supported self-expression and youth voice. Self-expression was important because it enabled interns to stay more engaged in the day to day programming, which was especially relevant following a virtual academic year. It was also important because their identity exploration and articulation allowed them to build more relationships, set future goals and create personalized plans to achieve them through various program elements.
  • An arts-based internship program can provide opportunities for participating interns to develop skills that are transferable and relevant across industries sectors.
    While this lesson is relevant during an in-person program as well, the remote internship experience, in particular, increased student exposure to and facility in using numerous digital tools necessary across organizations regardless of industry sector. BAI students completed the summer with meaningful digital work artifacts that can be shared in a professional portfolio. Beyond technology skills, BAI interns also developed transferable competencies such as adaptability, public speaking, collaboration, self-advocacy, networking, and creating your brand through the lens of theater, visual art, and arts advocacy workshops.

Coming up in the next blog, Developing Wrap-around Supports and Authentic Relationships. 

Learn more about the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program on our youth-created website.

New Study Underscores Impacts of Arts Education on Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  

New Study Finds Boston Public School Students Improved on Several
Key Measures with the Expansion of Arts Education

Extensive research highlights the impacts of arts education on students, parents and schools pointing to the role of arts in an equitable post-pandemic recovery 

(BOSTON) May 10, 2021 EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston, today released the results of a longitudinal citywide study entitled “The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students” that examines the impacts of arts education access in Boston Public Schools (BPS) on students. Increased student engagement, improved attendance, and increased parent engagement are among the findings of this unique longitudinal study, which includes more than 600,000 K-12 student-level observations across every Boston Public School over 11 school years from school year 2008-09 through 2018-19.

In addition, the research is noteworthy as rather than simply comparing students who have arts education opportunities to those who don’t, the study compared students to themselves at different points in time when enrolled in arts courses versus having no arts courses. The study adds to a growing body of research on the significant benefits of arts education.

“This research strengthens the case for quality arts education for every student, finding significant evidence that greater access to arts leads to improvements on a range of indicators of student success and parent engagement,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of EdVestors. “Large scale, quantitative arts education studies of this magnitude are not common, so this research will be invaluable to policymakers and school districts as they make decisions on allocating resources for the arts – both in the long-term and in the immediate aftermath of the interruption of two school years due to the pandemic.”

As students return to the classroom after 14 months of interrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and district administrators are debating how to make up for lost learning time. While some are focused on the academic learning needs, others are focused on social-emotional needs and trauma-informed practices. Arts education can positively impact students’ overall learning in both domains.

“This research provides evidence for what we already know: arts education engages students, builds community, expresses our shared humanity and experience, and contributes to joyful learning environments,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “Building on the strength of the many BPS educators and partners that provide quality arts learning opportunities, Boston Public Schools will continue to prioritize the arts as we promote our students’ social and emotional health to fully recover from this pandemic and reimagine learning for our young people.”

 

Led by Daniel H. Bowen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the College of Education & Human Development, Texas A&M University and Brian Kisida, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri, the research points to a positive impact on student attitudes, engagement and social emotional well-being.

Key findings include:

  • Consistent positive effects on student attendance as a result of students taking arts courses. These effects are notably stronger for students who have a history of chronic absenteeism and students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
  • Parent and student school engagement were higher when more students in a school were enrolled in arts courses. Teachers were more likely to report that students put more effort into their work and parents were more active at the school.
  • Overall, there were mixed effects on test scores, with mostly null and some positive though modest effects. There were significant positive student test score impacts for grades 6-8 in both English Language Arts and Mathematics, but no evidence of impact in the elementary grades.

“Taken together, these findings are highly relevant in understanding the context for how schools can work most effectively with their student population – especially post-pandemic,” said Dr. Bowen of the College of Education & Human Development at Texas A&M University. “As schools reopen, educators, policymakers and administrators need to take a holistic approach to addressing the pandemic’s impact on students. That includes incorporating arts instruction and other means to assess and address the impacts on students’ school engagement and social-emotional well being.”

This research builds on EdVestors long commitment to advancing arts education including the BPS Arts Expansion initiative, which was launched in 2009 and has given access to arts education to more than 17,000 additional elementary, middle, and high school students opportunities to experience the arts during the school day.

“We started our initiative to expand quality arts education across BPS over 12 years ago, which has given us an opportunity to actually measure the gains over time,” added Rousmaniere. “The results of this remarkable research only strengthen the case that all students should have access to quality arts experiences.”

 

Read the research brief here.

 

About EdVestors

EdVestors’ mission is to advance equitable, meaningful education that prepares every Boston student to activate their power and shape their future. We drive toward our vision by 1) activating people and resources, 2) learning and iterating in context, and 3) influencing system change. We believe that continuously attending to all three drivers ensures our programs and initiatives will create impact. Since starting in 2002, EdVestors has raised and directed over $35 million for urban school improvement efforts through EdVestors’ Racial Equity Seed Fund, BPS Arts Expansion, the School on the Move Prize, Zeroing in on Math, and Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

#BpsArts4All                @EdVestors                  edvestors.org

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Media contact:

Dominic Slowey

781-710-0014

dslowey@sloweymcmanus.com

Boston Public Schools Arts Educators Creatively Meet the Moment

By Anthony Beatrice and Ruth Mercado-Zizzo

This article is featured on Americans for the Arts’ ArtsBlog as part of National Arts in Education Week

Within a week of Boston Public Schools closing its schools due to COVID-19, the district’s nearly 300 BPS visual and performing arts educators quickly shifted to offering remote learning in the arts. The creativity, responsiveness, and community approach educators brought to this task have ensured the arts remain a priority for our students during the spring and moving forward into the new school year.

Within days of school closures, BPS visual and performing arts educators congregated on our first Zoom meeting to take stock of the moment and build a plan going forward. In a traffic-jammed city where it can take over an hour to get from one neighborhood to another, meeting online quickly turned into a silver lining, creating a new outlet for collaboration and camaraderie. Discussions rapidly led to an action plan focused on pedagogy and approaches that would make arts learning relevant and sharing resources to do so.

The Zoom gatherings became a weekly ritual and generated online professional learning communities on Google Classroom to provide a space for educators to share student work, gain feedback from each other, and have a clear understanding of what technologies to focus on in both teaching and learning. The BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department partnered with the BPS Office of Instructional Technology to offer webinars focused on tools like FlipGrid and Google Classroom along with Final Cut Pro and Garageband for creating virtual ensembles. All of these resources were then placed on a new remote learning website so educators and arts partners could easily access them.

The Arts Department wanted a unified approach to connecting students and arts educators virtually to make learning visible, and so began the #BPSArtsChallenges. We partnered with the BPS Communications Department to highlight a weekly challenge, including choreographing a dance jam to Wavin’ Flag, creating artwork for the Boston healthcare community, and developing messages of hope to our isolated seniors as part of a collaboration with AgeStrong Boston. Student work from the art challenges was combined with arts instructional videos on a new television show featured on the Boston Neighborhood Network.

At the end of the school year, students and educators transformed our Annual Citywide Arts Festival into an online format. Featuring virtual bands and choirs, dance mashups, visual art, and theatre performances, students were highlighted from all areas of the city.

The combination of weekly virtual meetings and professional learning communities, showcases of student work, and practical professional development helped ensure the relevancy and access to our high-quality standards-based curriculum.

As we move into a new school year that will begin remotely for all students with plans to phase-in hybrid options, we are able to utilize best practices from the spring while digging deeper into connecting our pedagogy to the needs of our students and families. Over the summer our arts educators partnered with the district’s Social Emotional Learning and Wellness Department to design arts lessons themed on community building, self-identity, and social justice connected to the social-emotional learning competencies and the new Massachusetts Core Arts Standards. Our first project will be creating a district-wide virtual mosaic filled with student artwork and QR codes to dance, music, and theatrical performances. We will continue to partner with the community in monthly district-wide arts challenges. Though field trips might be on hold this year, we are collaborating with our cultural partners in Boston to engage our students in virtual concerts and museum tours. We will carry on highlighting student visual and performing arts presentations in unique formats through livestreams and our local public access television network.

This work illustrates the power of engaging in the arts remotely and why we must continue to support arts education as a vehicle to amplify the voice and agency of our students in the years ahead. As we navigate through these trying times, partners and stakeholders of BPS Arts Expansion, led by the BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department and EdVestors, will continue to meet virtually to discuss challenges and share best practices for remote arts learning. The broad network of partners and advocates—including Boston Public Schools and Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius, school leaders and teachers, local and national foundations and arts organizations, higher education institutions, and the Mayor’s Office—are committed to working together to ensure our students have ongoing, regular access to equitable, quality arts education.

 

Anthony Beatrice is the Executive Director for the Arts at Boston Public Schools. Ruth Mercado-Zizzo is the Senior Director of Arts and Equity at EdVestors.

This is the Wrong Time to Cut Arts Education

By Dr. Brenda Cassellius and Marinell Rousmaniere

This article is featured on CommonWealth Magazine.

Schools should not be focused just on tested subjects

In times of great financial strain and uncertainty, arts education is often first thing cut from the school curriculum. Indeed, several school districts across the Commonwealth have already laid off teachers and arts educators in the face of expected budget cuts and an unpredictable fall. Some districts may be anticipating a stricter focus on tested subjects when schools reopen to get students up to speed, but this is exactly the wrong time to be cutting arts programs.

With an ongoing global pandemic and heightened attention on racial injustice, students need arts education more than ever. The arts help students creatively engage with their classmates and communities,  help combat isolation, and allow students to process their feelings and express themselves in ways that help them make sense of what’s happening in the world.

Arts education promotes positive development across the academic, social and emotional realms. It is an essential part of a well-rounded education, not just enrichment or elective. Students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. And yet, despite the impressive benefits of arts education, not every student has access to these quality learning experiences.

When schools closed in March, Boston Public School (BPS) students were able to continue their arts education for the remainder of the school year. Arts educators, led by BPS Executive Director for the Arts Anthony Beatrice, utilized their inherent creativity to demonstrate the arts ability to unite and heal. Students from dozens of BPS schools contributed works of art to share with frontline workers in the Boston hospital community, as well as senior citizens in the City’s Age Strong Commission. BPS school communities moved their art galleries to virtual spaces, or reworked their planned stage productions into rousing online events.

In addition, arts teachers across the district began taking part in online professional learning communities to share best practices and participate in weekly virtual meetings with the district’s arts department. They received professional development in building virtual ensembles, differentiating instruction, and on online tools such as FlipGrid, Google Classroom, and Soundtrap. Over the years, the district has built up this strong support system and community of arts teachers due to BPS Arts Expansion, This public-private partnership involves a large and coordinated network of partners, including schools, arts organizations, local and national foundations, colleges and universities, and the Mayor’s office, among others. The capacity building of BPS to support quality arts education gave them the infrastructure and resources to quickly implement remote learning and could serve as a model for other school districts nationwide.

Arts education can be done — and done well — with some collaboration and innovation among educators. In BPS, the arts department created a new Virtual Learning section on their website where they post many examples of what has been accomplished remotely. For example, students were able to express themselves in lessons ranging from comic book making and music composition to shadow puppetry and pandemic-themed tissue paper art.

During this time, districts and schools should be moving mountains to expand access to quality arts education instead of focusing — myopically — on tested subjects. Before students can get out from behind their screens and go back to an actual classroom, schools will need to ramp up and adapt the way they support their students’ social-emotional needs. Arts education is a powerful and effective tool in helping students process complex emotions in this challenging time. Creative expression in a safe environment, be it on or offline, can have healing effects for all.

COVID-19 forced schools to rapidly change the basic way they educate students and may change the shape of our classrooms for years to come. Moving forward, arts education will continue to be crucial in helping students connect with each other, express themselves, process the world around them, and stay engaged in learning.

Dr. Brenda Cassellius is the Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. Marinell Rousmaniere is President and CEO of Edvestors, a nonprofit school improvement organization in Boston.

 

Bloomberg Philanthropies and EdVestors Arts Internship Program for Boston High School Students Goes Virtual This Summer

Collaboration supports paid internships for 25 Boston public high school students at local arts and cultural organizations

 (BOSTON) July 30, 2020EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston, and Bloomberg Philanthropies are conducting their summer arts internship program in a remote format to continue offering opportunities for Boston high school students who want to explore careers in the arts and culture sector, and develop relevant skills, gain professional experience, and prepare for college.

Through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Internship (BAI) program, 25 high school students have paid virtual internships with 12 local arts and cultural organizations this summer. Boston became the latest city to join the BAI program in 2019. The program originated in New York City in 2012, then expanded to Philadelphia in 2015 and Baltimore in 2017. In total, more than 830 students have benefited from the program.

“COVID-19 has interrupted too many educational opportunities this spring and summer for Boston students, and we did not want to add these quality work-based learning experiences to that long list,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, CEO of EdVestors. “Despite being one of the hardest hit sectors, Boston’s arts organizations have stepped up to provide remote internship opportunities that are meaningful and engaging for Boston youth. Now in its second year in Boston, this year’s BAI program is spotlighting the creativity and perseverance of both the City’s arts sector and its young people.

Boston arts organizations providing virtual job opportunities include: Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Boston Lyric Opera, Community Music Center of Boston, Handel and Haydn Society, Huntington Theatre Company, Hyde Square Task Force, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), MASSCreative, North End Music & Performing Arts Center, Sociedad Latina, Urbanity Dance, and The Urbano Project.

“Arts and cultural organizations have the power to enrich and transform cities, and also unlock the full potential of young people living in them,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The goal of the Bloomberg Arts Initiative is to open doors for students by providing opportunities to get the first-hand experience they need to develop skills, build relationships, and put themselves on a path to success, whether that is in the arts community or elsewhere. Thanks to our partnership with EdVestors, and arts and cultural organizations throughout the city of Boston, these virtual internships will ensure those doors remain open for 25 highly qualified students, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The BAI program exposes high school students to the wide variety of career opportunities that exist in the creative sector and connects arts organizations with passionate young people who may one day pursue a career in the field. Interns will develop essential skills necessary for transitioning to postsecondary and career opportunities through executive coaching, writing support, networking with arts professionals, and specific worksite responsibilities. The summer internships will include an array of timely projects from supporting virtual dance classes to creating visual communications and social media content to developing a virtual/audio public art tour.

EdVestors connected to its network of community art partners and cultural institutions, as well as the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, to identify meaningful worksite experiences for BAI Boston interns and worked closely with selected arts partners on how they could be transitioned to virtual experiences. The Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) serves as a key partner, helping to recruit and prepare interns as well as support supervisors.

The BAI program in Boston builds on the success EdVestors has seen through its Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion initiative, which has resulted in nearly 17,000 additional students receiving arts instruction during the school day. BPS arts educators working in partnership with community-based teaching artists and organizations have made this work possible. The initiative continues to focus on expanding access to equitable arts education and deepening arts experiences, while building systems to sustain a high level of arts education long into the future.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

About EdVestors

EdVestors’ mission is to increase the number of schools in Boston delivering dramatically improved educational outcomes for all students. EdVestors is a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools create the conditions for school change. EdVestors seeds promising ideas through the School Solutions Seed Fund, shines a spotlight on school improvement through the School on the Move Prize, and scales efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps through three strategic initiatives: Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, Zeroing in on Math and our newest effort to expand Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

Boston Public Schools, EdVestors and Open Door Arts Come Together to Secure and Distribute Art Supplies for Boston Students in Need

4,400 Crayola art kits will be distributed to enable creative expression critical to social emotional health during COVID-19 related school closures

BOSTON – May 20, 2020 – In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Open Door Arts, an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation, and EdVestors have collaborated with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Visual and Performing Arts Department – under the umbrella of the BPS Arts Expansion initiative – to provide access to art supplies to thousands of BPS students.

With financial support from the Wellington Management Foundation, the Liberty Mutual Foundation, and EdVestors, the partnership secured 4,400 art supply kits from Crayola.  The kits will be distributed to BPS students through the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) and the YMCA of Greater Boston meal distribution channels with a focus on equity and need.

“The unprecedented school closures due to COVID-19 has required the collaboration of so many different partners to ensure that the physical, educational and social emotional needs of Boston students continue to be met,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “BPS has undertaken an incredible effort to shift classroom activities to online platforms to ensure learning continues at home. Now, thanks to Open Door Arts, EdVestors and their donors – Wellington Management Foundation, and Liberty Mutual Foundation – we will be able to further engage our students in creative activities that are equally important for their social-emotional wellbeing. I want to thank everyone who helped make this exciting news possible.”

Open Door Arts and EdVestors collaborated in this large-scale philanthropic effort in support of and in partnership with the BPS and its Visual and Performing Arts Department to secure the purchase and distribution of art supplies. The supplies are part of the Create-to-Learn Family Project Kits from creatED® by Crayola®, which include family project guides and animated videos in English and Spanish that families can play on their phones or any device that make the learning project instructions easy to do at the kitchen table.

“Crayola was an extraordinary partner in making the purchase and delivery of 4,400 kits possible during this unprecedented time,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President & CEO of EdVestors. “We are proud to work with our City, nonprofit and foundation partners to secure these much-needed materials for students. For the last ten years, through our BPS Arts Expansion initiative, EdVestors has been dedicated to bringing arts back into BPS in collaboration with classroom arts teachers, school leaders, teaching artists from our nonprofit partners, families, higher education and cultural partners, and funders. Now, in this time of great challenge, we are leveraging these networks to bring arts into the homes of children with the least access.”

This effort will give many of Boston’s families and students in need access to necessary supplies and tools to be creative, which are otherwise unavailable to them during school closures. The kits and materials will be divided equally and made available through BPS distribution channels including ten of the highest volume YMCA and BCYF food distribution sites and delivered directly as part of family care kits for students and families identified as having acute needs.

“BPS Arts Teachers and arts partners such as Open Door Arts have been providing online arts instruction knowing how critical it is for students to continue creating, imagining, and expressing themselves during school closures,” said Nicole Agois Hurel, Managing Director of Open Door Arts. “However, we learned from teachers and families early on that many students lack access to basic art supplies. As a long-time partner organization with the BPS Arts Expansion initiative, we enthusiastically collaborated with EdVestors and the BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department to mobilize this large-scale effort that provides much needed art supplies and materials to students, including those with disabilities.”

BPS Arts Expansion is a decade-long collaborative effort to expand quality arts education within Boston Public Schools by providing equitable access to arts learning experiences for all students. This public-private partnership, led by the BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department and EdVestors, involves a large and coordinated network of partners including schools, nonprofit arts organizations including Open Door Arts, foundations, higher education partners and the City. Since its launch, this initiative has ensured all elementary school students have access to weekly arts instruction during the school year (up from 67% a decade ago), nearly tripled access to arts for high school students and catalyzed hiring nearly double the number of arts teachers employed by the Boston Public Schools.

 

ABOUT EDVESTORS

EdVestors’ mission is to increase the number of schools in Boston delivering dramatically improved educational outcomes for all students. EdVestors is a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools create the conditions for school change. EdVestors seeds promising ideas through the School Solutions Seed Fund, shines a spotlight on school improvement through the School on the Move Prize, and scales efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps through three strategic initiatives: Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, Zeroing in on Math and our newest effort to expand Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

 

ABOUT OPEN DOOR ARTS

Open Door Arts, formerly VSA Massachusetts, is an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation that provides innovative and inclusive programming, training, events, and exhibits designed to expand access, participation, and representation by people with disabilities in the arts. Each year Open Door Arts works with over 3,000 students, teaching artists, artists, educators, and leaders of cultural organizations to ensure our shared cultural community includes and represents all people. Learn more at opendoorartsma.org.

 

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Media Contact:

For EdVestors

Travis Small

tsmall@sloweymcmanus.com

617-538-9041

 

For Open Door Arts

Alex Villanueva

alex@ballcg.com

863-258-1742