When children have access to arts in school, they become creative thinkers and better students. Since its inception in 2002, the Picasso Project has provided over 55,000 children access to innovative arts projects by providing grants to their schools. The Picasso Project awards grants to Philadelphia public schools annually to support projects in creative, performing, and digital arts. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of arts programs at under-resourced schools, improve school climate by giving kids an outlet to work together on projects, and spark student interest by integrating arts with core academic subjects. At the same time, students and teachers at Picasso Project schools have used their projects to advocate for funding for school arts programs at both the local and state level so future generations of students can express themselves through art at school.
In 2021, Children First offered two separate Picasso Project grant models:
- The Picasso Project Arts Education Grant for Teachers provided up to $2,500 for 6 months to support innovative teacher-driven arts projects. Awarded to approximately 20 schools annually.
- The Picasso Project Arts-Rich Schools Grant provided $10,000 per year for up to three years to support the development of strong and sustainable arts programs, which integrate the arts school-wide. Awarded to 3 new schools annually.
- The 6 current Picasso Project Arts-Rich Schools Grant recipients are: A.M.Y. Northwest, Cook-Wissahickon School, C.W. Henry School, McClure Elementary School, Overbrook Educational Center, and Thomas Holme Elementary School.
In 2022, The Picasso Project Arts Education Grant for Teachers is launching a new direction.
For almost 20 years Picasso has supported arts integration across the curriculum and access to high-quality arts programming in Philadelphia public schools by providing funding and other support for short-term projects designed by classroom teachers, often in collaboration with local teaching artists and community-based arts organizations. Starting in 2022, Picasso is launching a renewed and re-visioned version of its program based on the lessons of its past 20 years and inspired by the work of the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE). The new program works to transform classroom pedagogy by pairing classroom teachers and teaching artists as peers in sustained discovery of how the arts and the artistic process becomes embedded in teaching and learning across the curriculum. The new program is being launched in 10 classrooms in 5 schools in the Philadelphia district. The 2022 schools are:
- Thomas Holme Elementary School
- Eliza B. Kirkbride School
- Charles W. Henry School
- Alexander K. McClure Elementary School
- Overbrook Educational Center
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