Wallace Foundation Awards $750,000 Grant to Minneapolis Public Schools to Support Development of Five-Year Arts Education Plan

November 13, 2008

Contact: Mary Trudel
Senior Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation
212 251-9815; 212-251-9785


Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 13, 2008 – Building on its longstanding effort to expand participation in the arts, The Wallace Foundation has announced a grant to the Minneapolis Public School’s Comprehensive Arts Office to underwrite a year-long planning process to strengthen coordinated arts learning efforts, and to bring high-quality arts experiences to more young people in Minneapolis.
As part of its effort to support and share effective practices and ideas, The Wallace Foundation grant to the public school system will boost the district’s planning by supporting additional data collection and analysis by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, to help the district determine such important matters as the current “penetration” of arts education, that is how many children are actually receiving arts education, both in the arts and through the arts, now that arts programming is in place in most schools. Wallace support will also fund the development of model program designs for arts instruction and the integrating of the arts to advance student learning; pilot professional development projects to strengthen arts teaching; the hiring of consultants to plan for improved communications efforts and private fundraising; and the planning of activities to build community support for improved arts education. Progress with the planning in Minneapolis will be studied by the Foundation to document and share lessons with the field about how communities can improve arts learning throughout school districts.

The Foundation chose Minneapolis after conducting a nationwide scan to identify communities with noteworthy efforts coordinating resources to improve arts learning, with committed school district personnel and representatives of cultural organizations and the demonstrated support of local funders.

“We believe every child – and our broader society – benefits from high-quality arts learning and that arts education deserves a secure place in our communities. Arts learning can enhance a child’s ability to learn how to learn; it can develop skills of persistence and teamwork; it can enhance the school experience for students – sustaining their interest and enthusiasm for learning; and it can nurture empathy and foster imagination through experiences that the arts uniquely provide,” said Wallace Foundation President M. Christine DeVita. “Although fragile, community wide coordinated efforts are showing success in improving access to arts learning. We hope our work with leaders in Minneapolis to support MPS’ initiative, and our investment in research, will yield useful knowledge about how communities across the country can deliver high-quality arts experiences to more young people.”

Dr. William Green, Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, added:  “A quality education must include the arts. Participation in the arts allows us to discover and nurture strengths of students and also opens doors to self discovery. Arts create student success and meaning and understanding of themselves and others throughout their lives.”

“We stand on the shoulders of giants” said Pat Teske, Director of MPS’ Comprehensive Arts. “This planning grant is the direct result of 11 years of hard work by committed artists, teacher, principals, administrators, and students. As we move forward, Comprehensive Arts is taking lessons learned from years of practice to a level of full and complete arts-based and arts-integrated learning for all students in the Minneapolis Public Schools.” 

Minneapolis Public Schools:
With an enrollment of about 36,000 students, the Minneapolis Public Schools oversees a department of arts education that launched a three-year “comprehensive arts plan” in 2006 to advance arts education in its own right; promote the use of arts to help teach other subjects (“arts integration”); and expose students to high quality visual art and performances in the community. The school district works with a number of cultural organizations and artists to design and offer deep arts learning experiences for children.  It has also carried out data collection and analysis in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. The arts integration effort, known as Arts for Academic Achievement, is available in the majority of the district’s 57 schools, as is instruction by music and visual arts teachers.  The district has worked to improve arts learning by enlisting
the assistance of the nationally known Perpich Center for Arts Education, a state agency that seeks to lift the quality of K-12 arts education in Minnesota. Currently the school district is developing a five-year plan to improve arts education through 2014.

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 www.wallacefoundation.org.

Contact for Minneapolis Public Schools
Stan Alleyne, Director of Communications and Marketing