Arts organizations, while fearful of the impact of federal budget cuts at the National Endowment for the Arts, are feeling a resurgence of support from the philanthropic community.
Among the latest gifts is a $10 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation to help public schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia make arts and technology a central part of their broader school-reform plans. The grant will be coordinated by the Los Angeles-based Galef Institute, which promotes interdisciplinary teaching and the use of the arts throughout the curriculum.
The project is a new component to the Annenberg Challenge. Two years ago, retired publisher Walter H. Annenberg announced a gift of $500 million to the nation's public schools. He challenged foundations, corporations, and other individuals to match his contribution.
In addition to the District of Columbia schools, school districts from the following states will be invited to participate: California, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.
Projects financed under the initiative would encourage students to collaboratively research issues and to use all of their "logical and mathematical, intuitive, artistic, social, and verbal intelligences" in these pursuits, according to an announcement of the grant.
For example, the Galef Institute has worked with one district to study the influence of geography on weather and environmental problems and create a "multimedia museum" with interactive exhibits on oceans, mountains, forests, and deserts.
A national working group, made up of arts organizations, will help the Galef Institute plan the projects and advise the districts.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge has announced $2.58 million in grants to go directly to 35 public school partnerships in that city.
The awards include $102,000 for the Dual Language Exchange, an effort to improve student proficiency in Spanish and English at four schools, and $150,000 to the Lakeview Arts and Education Partnership, a project that will use the arts to improve student achievement.
Chicago is one of six metropolitan areas that received grants under the Annenberg Challenge's urban initiative. The city received a five-year, $49.2 million grant a year ago. It is the first to make awards to schools and local groups.