CPS, Mayor Emanuel Announce $10 Million Investment in Arts Education for 2015 

Creative Schools Funds Also Dedicating $1 Million to Support Arts Programs in Schools

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Board of Education President David Vitale and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced a $10 million investment in Arts Education for the 2015-2016 School Year (SY 15-16) dedicated to helping schools meet the District’s first-ever comprehensive Arts Education Plan.

“The value in arts education goes beyond learning to play an instrument or perform on stage, because when you invest in the arts, you invest in the potential of a child,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These experiences help students find their voice, enhance their education and tap into their undiscovered talents, and this $10 million commitment will help infuse arts into more of our schools.”

A recent report by Ingenuity, CPS’ partner in elevating the arts through the arts plan, revealed increases in arts instruction, staffing, partnerships and funding during School Year 2013-2014 (SY 13-14), the second year of the comprehensive CPS Arts Education Plan. The report outlines important progress made in ensuring that every student receives an arts education. The investment announced today will continue to assist Chicago’s schools.

“Our children cannot wait for the arts, which is why despite these difficult fiscal times, we are committed to ensuring every single child has access to the arts as part of a 21st century education,” said CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett. “We will continue to invest in strengthening arts programs to nurture our next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.”

The 2014 Creative Schools Fund will direct $1 million in funding to 100 schools this year to support arts partnerships, arts supplies, materials, and other resources. Every school that earned Creative Schools Certification last year received “Arts Essentials” funding ranging from $750 to $1,000. A total of 8 schools will receive Creative Schools Awards for up to $15,000 each, and 92 schools will receive Arts Advance grants for up to $10,000 each. 

Schools were selected to receive funds by Ingenuity based on SY 13-14 Creative Schools Certification designations, and are diverse in geography. Funds are awarded to schools with Arts Liaisons, a designated school leader who is charged with fostering relationships with cultural institutions and community partners that will enrich students’ understanding of the arts. Nearly 600 schools possess a designated Arts Liaison this year, one of the prerequisite for a school to achieve a Creative Schools Certification.

“We continue to gain support from donors for the campaign, and this commitment from CPS during difficult financial times underscores the importance of arts in our schools,” said David Vitale. “We cannot allow arts education to be considered an enrichment program, but instead arts should be seen as a key factor in student success and school improvement.”

To further expand arts instruction across the City, in October, Mayor Emanuel called upon the city’s business, community, cultural and philanthropic leaders to help schools deliver sufficient arts education via the “Be Creative: The Campaign for Creative Schools.” With a goal of $38 million dollars over the next three years, the campaign will support curriculum development, teacher and principal professional development, data collection, and strategies for long-term funding. So far, $11 million has been raised by the Campaign.

According to Ingenuity's 2014 report, more than 90 percent of schools provide students with weekly arts instruction. Additionally, in the first year of implementation of the Plan alone, nearly more than 350 schools have seen growth in arts integration, instruction, arts partnerships and professional development.

To keep this momentum going, and to strengthen the program District-wide, the $10 million dollars will support schools unable to meet the recommended weekly arts minutes in doing so. These funds will allow schools to build robust art programs, by expanding access to visual arts and music, as well as theatre and dance, across grades K-12.

The Arts Education Plan is the only plan in the country that offers targeted supports for every school to advance in the arts, and a data-driven system to track progress. Since its implementation, CPS now designates the arts as a core subject similar to math, science and social studies. The plan also requires two hours per week in every elementary school, made possible by Mayor Emanuel’s longer school day.

Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.