The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago, in partnership with School District 65, has been selected as only one of eight arts programs in the country to receive the highly competitive “Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination” grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The award’s grand total is $1,299,659 disbursed over four years. It is the only grant of this type given to a higher education institution this year. It is also the highest total funded project among the eight grantees.

The District has been partnering with CCAP through Project AIM (Arts Integration Mentorships) for eight years to provide high quality arts integrated programming at King Lab and Bessie Rhodes magnet schools. Project AIM is a research-based arts integration methodology that allows artists and teachers to co-create original curriculum, aligned with Common Core State Standards.

Arts integration occurs when there is “seamless blending” of the content and skills of an art form – such as dance, drama, music or visual arts – with the core content, said Assistant Superintendent Susan Schultz on June 3. “It is highly effective in engaging and motivating students and enhances academic achievement and social development,” she said.

On June 3, School District 65 administrators presented preliminary plans to expand the Project AIM model to the District’s three middle schools and to implement a pilot program with the District’s four Title 1 elementary schools. The$1.3 million grant will fund an expansion of the Project AIM model to the middle schools.

“This is not a replacement for any of the fine arts programs we have,” said Ms. Schultz. “This is simply a way to enhance learning by students.”

“Expanding our partnership with Evanston Schools presents an outstanding opportunity to go deeper and wider with integrating arts into school curricula,” said David Flatley, Executive Director of CCAP. “We will also be able to make a significant contribution to the field as we articulate the process for how such a model can be replicated and expanded across a district after having taken root in a small number of schools. That is part of what this DOE initiative has always aimed to accomplish.”

A distinctive attribute of the expansion to District 65’s middle schools lies in its approach to student outcomes and professional development for teachers. The program includes extensive evaluation, measuring student achievement in mathematics and reading, management and critical thinking skills. Teachers will be measured by their increased ability to create and deliver arts integrated curriculum.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with CCAP to expand the arts integration initiative that has been so successful at our magnet schools,” said Ms. Schultz. “This grant allows us to address student achievement and student engagement along with the Common Core State Standards as we develop a culture of arts integration in our middle schools.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grants are designed to enable school districts and other organizations with arts expertise to create and develop materials that will be duplicated or adapted for integrating a range of arts disciplines into the elementary and middle school curricula. The program is also designed to fund projects that will increase the amount of nationally available information on effective models for arts education that integrate the arts with standards-based education programs.

The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) was founded in 1998 at Columbia College Chicago to formalize the College’s commitment to civic engagement by creating deep, sustained partnerships throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. CCAP draws on the College’s expertise as the nation’s largest arts, media and communications college to create model arts-based educational and enrichment programs for young people, especially those living in underserved communities in Chicago.