ART WORKS: Arts Education

Every student should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, both in and out of school. We know that students who participate in the arts are more engaged in life and are empowered to be fulfilled, responsible citizens who can make a profound positive impact on this world. In addition, NEA-supported research has shown that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who have arts-rich experiences are more likely to achieve key positive outcomes—academically, socially, and civically—compared with their peers who lack access to arts experiences.

Our arts education funding is focused on students. Projects are for pre-K-12 students, the educators and civic leaders who support them, and the schools and communities that serve them. All students are served when each level of the system is supported. Applicants should consider what role their proposed project plays within this system, and how their project impacts students. Funded projects will utilize and test innovative strategies, or scale up proven methodologies, for increasing access to arts education for more students.

We support three types of projects:

  • Direct Learning Grants to increase student knowledge and skills in the arts. Projects must provide extended participatory learning that engages students with accomplished artists and arts educators, align with either national or state arts education standards, and rigorously assess student learning.
  • Professional Development Grants to deepen knowledge and strengthen the practice of educators and/or civic leaders who engage students in arts learning. Projects must provide meaningful opportunities for participants to experience the arts, provide in-depth learning over a sustained period of time, and measure the impact of the professional development experience.
  • Collective Impact Grants to ensure that all students across entire schools, school districts, and/or states – in communities of all sizes – participate in the arts over time. Projects must be either for emerging new work or for sustaining and growing established networks that are proven to increase arts education for all students. Projects will also have significant potential to be shared and customized in communities across the country. Longer project periods are encouraged, and larger grant amounts may be awarded for these projects.

Competition is rigorous. You should consider carefully whether your project will be competitive at the national level.

NOTE: Arts Education projects may be in any artistic discipline. Projects for short-term arts exposure, arts appreciation, or intergenerational activity should not be submitted under Arts Education; rather, they should be submitted under the appropriate artistic discipline. If you have questions about whether you should apply under Arts Education or some other discipline, read "Choosing the Right Discipline for Youth Projects."

Outcomes

All Arts Education applicants must choose the Learning Outcome (Americans of All Ages Acquire Knowledge or Skills in the Arts).

Each applicant must be as specific as possible in describing how their project will achieve and demonstrate the outcome selected. Project goals, activities, and outcomes must be clearly defined.

Deadlines

Art Works applications will be accepted under two deadlines: February 20, 2014, and July 24, 2014. Applications in all artistic disciplines are accepted at both deadlines.

Apply under the deadline with the project example that most closely corresponds to the primary focus of your proposed project.

Community-based Direct Learning and Professional Development Grants projects include activities and training in the arts that occur outside of the school system. Activities must occur outside of the regular school day, and may take place in a variety of settings. These activities may be offered by arts organizations or by other community-based, non-arts organizations or agencies in partnership with artists and/or arts groups. Projects could take place in locations such as arts organizations, community centers, faith-based organizations, public housing, tribal community centers, juvenile facilities, or school buildings.

School-based Direct Learning and Professional Development Grants projects must be directly connected to the school curriculum and instructional program. Activities may take place in or outside of the school building at any time of the day, including after-school and summer enrichment programs formally connected to school curricula.

Collective Impact Grants are intended to support systemic change and may be submitted at either the February or July deadline.

February 20, 2014, Application Deadline
January 1, 2015, Earliest Beginning Date for Arts Endowment Period of Support

Community-Based Direct Learning Grants

Projects support arts instruction for students, pre-K through 12th grade, that result in increased knowledge and skills in the arts. Projects should engage students in direct learning over an extended period to increase their proficiency in and understanding of an artistic discipline, genre, or form. These projects must include all of the following elements:

Experience: Participants experience exemplary works of art -- in live form where possible -- to gain increased knowledge and skills in the art form.

Create: Informed by their experience in an art form, participants will create or perform art.

Assess: Student learning is measured and assessed according to either national or state arts education standards. At the conclusion of the project, grantees will be required to describe the assessment methods used to assess learning, and to submit any tools used to assess learning with their Final Report. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Learning.  

Community-Based Professional Development Grants

Projects support opportunities for classroom teachers, arts specialists, teaching artists, school/district administrators, other educators, and civic leaders to learn how to engage students in high quality arts learning and improve instruction. These projects must include all of the following elements:

Experience: Participants have an experience in or through the arts.

Study: Participants are engaged in a sustained, in-depth course of study.

Evaluate: Participant learning is evaluated and the impact of the professional development on practice is measured. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Learning.  

Collective Impact Grants

Projects increase student access to arts education through collective, systematic approaches. John Kania and Mark Kramer have shown how collective efforts have a greater impact on social change than individual efforts in their "Collective Impact" article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

We anticipate making a limited number of grants at higher award levels for longer term, large-scale projects that use a collective, systematic approach to provide arts education to students throughout a community, school, school district, and/or state.

These projects should embrace the following principles, which may be ongoing and occur at any point during the project:

Inter-relationships graphic: planning, data, partnership, programming, evaluation

  • Partnership: Cross-sector partners work to determine a common vision, define goals, develop strategies, and identify measurable outcomes for arts education. Partners may include arts organizations, units of government, school systems, funders, community organizations, or institutions of higher education. Priority will be given to projects that include a managing partner that is the coordinating entity, and involve at least three cross-sector organizations, one of which is an arts/cultural organization.
  • Data: Data informs decision making. This may include asset mapping of community resources, collecting student data, or creating new data collection tools.
  • Planning: A plan outlines system-wide arts education implementation. This should include a description of each partner's role in achieving the common vision, as well as plans for communication among the partners and sustainability.
  • Programming: Activities support the plan. Programming may include services to students, professional development, curriculum design, or convening stakeholders.
  • Evaluation: A shared measurement system assesses the impact of planning and programming and is disseminated.

You must identify your project as either Emerging or Sustaining.

Emerging projects are in the initial phase of work to establish an arts education plan. These projects may cultivate partners, convene, collect data, or create an arts education plan.

Sustaining projects have an arts education plan in place. These projects may continue work from the emerging phase, be in the programming and evaluation stage, or scaling up proven efforts to increase arts education access. These projects must demonstrate how they are disseminating information to the fields of arts education, public education, and beyond.

(NOTE: If any partner in the project has been a past participant in the Education Leaders Institute (ELI), indicate that in your application. Describe if and how the proposed project supports or is aligned to efforts made as a result of participation in ELI.)

July 24, 2014, Application Deadline
June 1, 2015, Earliest Beginning Date for Arts Endowment Period of Support

School-Based Direct Learning Grants

Projects support arts instruction for students, pre-K through 12th grade, that result in increased knowledge and skills in the arts. Projects should engage students in direct learning over an extended period to increase their proficiency in and understanding of an artistic discipline, genre, or form. These projects must include all of the following elements:

Experience: Participants experience exemplary works of art -- in live form where possible -- to gain increased knowledge and skills in the art form.

Create: Informed by their experience in an art form, participants will create or perform art.

Assess: Student learning is measured and assessed according to either national or state arts education standards. At the conclusion of the project, grantees will be required to describe the assessment methods used to assess learning, and to submit any tools used to assess learning with their Final Report. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Learning.  

School-Based Professional Development Grants

Projects support opportunities for classroom teachers, arts specialists, teaching artists, school/district administrators, other educators, and civic leaders to learn how to engage students in high quality arts learning and improve instruction. These projects must include all of the following elements:

Experience: Participants have an experience in or through the arts.

Study: Participants are engaged in a sustained, in-depth course of study.

Evaluate: Participant learning is evaluated and the impact of the professional development on practice is measured. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Learning.  

Collective Impact Grants

Projects increase student access to arts education through collective, systematic approaches. John Kania and Mark Kramer have shown how collective efforts have a greater impact on social change than individual efforts in their "Collective Impact" article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

We anticipate making a limited number of grants at higher award levels for longer term, large-scale projects that use a collective, systematic approach to provide arts education to students throughout a neighborhood, school, school district, and/or state.

These projects should embrace the following principles, which may be ongoing and occur at any point during the project:

Inter-relationships graphic: planning, data, partnership, programming, evaluation

  • Partnership: Cross-sector partners work to determine a common vision, define goals, develop strategies, and identify measurable outcomes for arts education. Partners may include arts organizations, units of government, school systems, funders, community organizations, or institutions of higher education. Priority will be given to projects that include a managing partner that is the coordinating entity, and involve at least three cross-sector organizations, one of which is an arts/cultural organization. 
  • Data: Data informs decision making. This may include asset mapping of community resources, collecting student data, or creating new data collection tools.
  • Planning: A plan outlines system-wide arts education implementation. This should include a description of each partner's role in achieving the common vision, as well as plans for communication among the partners and sustainability.
  • Programming: Activities support the plan. Programming may include services to students, professional development, curriculum design, or convening stakeholders.
  • Evaluation: A shared measurement system assesses the impact of planning and programming and is disseminated.

You must identify your project as either Emerging or Sustaining.

Emerging projects are in the initial phase of work to establish an arts education plan. These projects may cultivate partners, convene, collect data, or create an arts education plan.

Sustaining projects have an arts education plan in place. These projects may continue work from the emerging phase, be in the programming and evaluation stage, or scaling up proven efforts to increase arts education access. These projects must demonstrate how they are disseminating information to the fields of arts education, public education, and beyond.

(NOTE: If any partner in the project has been a past participant in the Education Leaders Institute (ELI), indicate that in your application. Describe if and how the proposed project supports or is aligned to efforts made as a result of participation in ELI.)

We Do Not Fund

In addition to the "We Do Not Fund" section for all [Grants for Arts Projects] applicants, funding under the Arts Education discipline is not available for:

  • Projects that replace arts instruction provided by a classroom teacher or an arts specialist in schools. The Arts Endowment strongly endorses the arts as a core academic subject area.
  • Awards directly to individual elementary or secondary schools -- charter, private, or public. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. If a single school also is the local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as the local education agency.
  • Research on the value of arts education. Applicants may consider the Arts Endowment's research grant opportunity for support of research projects.
  • Organizations with projects that are not eligible under this category may want to review the opportunities that are offered by their state arts agency.

Project Reporting and Evaluation

We ask all applicants to define what they would like to achieve, how they will evaluate the degree to which it is achieved, and, upon completion of the project, what they have learned from their experiences. Such feedback need not entail large-scale or expensive evaluation efforts. You should do what is feasible and appropriate for your organization and project. When a grant is completed, you must submit a final report and answer questions on your achievements and how these were determined. Arts Education grantees who apply for a Direct Learning Grant will be required to describe the assessment methods used to assess learning, and they will be required to submit any tools used to assess learning with their Final Report. (Please note that assessment tools may be shared publicly. If your tools are proprietary and have copyrights or trademarks attached, you will be asked to note that in your application and Final Report.) Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for the outcome that will be selected for the proposed project.

Beyond the reporting requirements for all grantees, selected Art Works grantees will be asked to assist in the collection of additional information that can help the NEA determine the degree to which agency objectives were achieved. You may be contacted to provide evidence of project accomplishments including, but not limited to, work samples, community action plans, cultural asset studies, programs, reviews, relevant news clippings, and playbills. Please remember that you are required to maintain project documentation for three years following submission of your final reports.

Application Review

This category uses the agency's traditional method of application review. Applications are submitted to the Arts Education staff and are reviewed by a diverse group of experts in the field.

Applications are reviewed on the basis of artistic excellence and artistic merit. For more detailed information on how artistic excellence and artistic merit will be evaluated, see the "Review Criteria." You can find additional information in the "Application Review" section of the "Frequently Asked Questions." See the "Application Calendar" for information on when we expect to announce grant awards and rejections.

Contacts

Any Arts Education specialist can answer questions about all three project types. Where appropriate, contact the specialist for the field or discipline that is most relevant to your project.

Dance, Design, Media Arts, Museums, Music, Opera, Visual Arts: Denise Brandenburg, brandenburg@arts.gov or 202/682-5044

Literature, Theater & Musical Theater: Nancy Daugherty, daughern@arts.gov or 202/682-5521

Folk & Traditional Arts, Local Arts Agencies, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works: Terry Liu, liut@arts.gov or 202/682-5690