The Wallace Foundation Announces National Arts for Young People Education Initiative

January 06, 2006

The Wallace Foundation Announces National Arts for Young People Education Initiative

NEW YORK, New York, January 6, 2005 – Building on its longstanding effort to expand participation in the arts, The Wallace Foundation has announced an initiative to develop effective ways to bring high-quality arts experiences to more young people inside and outside of school.

As part of its effort to support and share effective practices and ideas, the Foundation announced two major city planning grants to strengthen arts education in New York and Dallas, and investments in two research projects.

The Foundation awarded planning grants of $1,050,000 to the Fund for Public Schools on behalf of the New York City Department of Education and $1,060,000 to Big Thought in Dallas, Texas.  The grants will help each city create plans to transform arts education for children in and out of school by developing strong partnerships between the cities’ public school systems, arts institutions and out of school programs.  Key partners in the planning process include: in New York, the Center for Arts Education and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; in Dallas, the Dallas Independent School District and the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.  If the planning processes are successful, the Foundation will consider additional grants to support plan implementation.

The Foundation also announced the commissioning of two research studies: a $600,000 study to be undertaken by Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero to better understand how to achieve quality in arts education; and a $500,000 study by RAND Education to understand how cities can set up effective ways to deliver arts education.

“Parents, policymakers, business and school leaders tell us they want the arts to be part of a child’s education – but that achieving this goal is difficult given the multiple players and competing priorities,” said Wallace Foundation President M. Christine DeVita. “And we know from a wide body of research, summed up in Gifts of the Muse, the RAND study we commissioned, that the arts are a vital contributor to children’s development and learning. We hope our work with leaders in Dallas and New York City, and our investment in research, will yield more effective ways to deliver high-quality arts experiences to more young people across the nation.”

The Foundation chose New York City and Dallas after conducting a nationwide scan to identify cities with noteworthy programs connecting schools, cultural institutions and community-based organizations into networks committed to bringing the arts into the lives of more children.  New York City was cited for its creation of the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts – the first citywide, comprehensive arts curriculum in the nation – which provides the school system and partner organizations with a coherent approach to teaching the arts at all levels in all schools.  Dallas was recognized for its innovative Dallas ArtsPartners program, a collaboration with the Dallas Independent School District, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and more than 60 professional arts and cultural organizations which has brought arts programs to more than 100,000 children in K-6th grades.

"We are thrilled that The Wallace Foundation has recognized the progress that New York City's public schools have made in providing all public school children with access to arts education," said Leslie Koch, CEO of the Fund for Public Schools.  "This exciting new grant will enable our public schools to further extend the enriching opportunity of arts education for all students across the city."

Big Thought Executive Director, Giselle Antoni, notes, “This is a spectacular gift to our city, and a real testament to the work and commitment of our community partners, Dallas Independent School District, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and more than 50 arts and cultural institutions.  With The Wallace Foundation’s visionary investment, we have a chance to help change the face of arts education in our city, and to provide a model for other cities across the nation.  It’s a privilege for us to be called upon to serve as stewards for this new initiative.” 

The Foundation has also commissioned EMCArts Inc. of New York City to map the local arts learning system in each city, facilitate communications and document the work.

The Wallace Foundation: The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities; and expanding participation in arts and culture. More information and research on these and other related topics can be found at The Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center at

Fund for Public Schools: The Fund for Public Schools is the non-profit organization affiliated with the New York City Department of Education (DOE). The Fund plays a pivotal role in improving public education in New York City by strengthening the DOE’s relationship with the private sector and supporting system-wide reforms.  Working with the DOE’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, the Fund secures critical funding for education reform initiatives; helps businesses create partnerships and programs to support City schools; and reaches out to the entire City to create awareness about the needs of the public schools.  For more information about the Fund for Public Schools, visit

Big Thought: Big Thought is one of the largest non-profit learning partnerships in the nation, inspiring, empowering, and uniting children and communities through education, arts and culture. Formed in 1987, the Dallas, Texas-based organization offers a diverse array of arts and culture-based performances, workshops, cultural excursions and multi-visit residencies for children and teens, and provides professional development and training to help adults use these programs.  Big Thought’s programs reach an average of 400,000 students, teachers and family members each year in schools, libraries, museums, juvenile facilities and community centers. Programs are presented in affiliation with Young Audiences, Inc. More information on Big Thought can be found at