Arts and Minds Arts Education Program
The Riverside Arts Council's (RAC) Arts and Minds arts education program encompasses artist residencies, workshops and performances in schools and community settings. With California Arts Council and corporate funding, partnerships have been formed over the past 19 years in a number of county schools and communities, such as Lake Elsinore, Perris, Mead Valley, Indio, Nuevo, Corona-Norco, Riverside, and, most recently, Coachella. The RAC has received Local Arts Education Partnerships (LAEP), Exemplary Arts Education Partnerships (EAEP) and Demonstration Grants from the California Arts Council. The RAC designs each residency project to meet the specific needs of the school or community site being served. To emphasize literacy and other curricular skills, professional artists work as trainers and partners with teachers and site directors, incorporating the California Department of Education’s Framework for the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) and the Content Standards (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/index.asp) as they integrate the arts in K-8 curricula. Mead Valley Unified School District is home to Manuel Real Elementary, which credits the RAC's arts education program with contributing to the historically low-performing school’s 147-point jump in its Academic Performance Index scores and positive changes in school and neighborhood culture.
The RAC is convinced that pro-active, preventive measures must be taken to meet the challenges faced by our schools and communities. Schools are struggling with poor academic performance, transiency, crime and other serious demands on resources unimagined a few years ago. This is especially true in the case of youth-at-risk who have learning difficulties or who might not otherwise have positive outlets for self-expression. Programs like Arts & Minds have a positive impact on the development of learning skills and self-esteem, leading to an educated, stronger workforce and residents who are vested in and contribute to the communities in which they live.
RAC education programs extend beyond student participation in the arts. Long-term objectives are academic achievement, building economic stability through a more educated work force, enhanced quality of life, positive behavior skills and stronger connections with both family and community. Funding through the CAC Demonstration Project allowed the RAC to begin a three-year partnership with the Nuview Union School District in 2001, resulting in a tremendous impact upon the student population. Evaluations conducted by an outside consultant during the FY 2002-03 indicate that the RAC’s arts in education program had a significant impact on Nuview USD students’ behavior, self-esteem, creativity, achievement motivation and skill development, with ninety percent of students showing increased respect for their peers.
All activities embody the principals set forth by America’s Promise, the Alliance for Youth, (http://www.americaspromise.org/) a national collaborative that builds upon the collective power of communities and partners to help fulfill five promises for every young person in America: (1) ongoing relationships with caring adults; (2) safe places and structured activities; (3) a healthy start for a healthy future; (4) marketable skills through effective education; and (5) opportunities to serve. In addition, the Arts in Minds program incorporates the 40 Developmental Assets (http://www.search-institute.org/assets/) that educators and social service professionals deem necessary to foster resiliency and personal growth.
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