Published Online: December 10, 1997

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Arts and crafts

A Chicago program has learned to kill several birds with one stone and is being rewarded for it.

Gallery 37 places more than 1,000 teenagers in summer and after-school jobs with local artists. The program gives the teenagers apprenticeships in careers they may want to pursue, and it encourages them to do well in school.

For this, the program last month won $100,000 and national recognition as one of the top 10 "innovations in government" from the Ford Foundation in New York City and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In the program's six years, Gallery 37 participants have painted murals, performed recitals, and published anthologies--among other projects.

While its primary purpose is not educational, its leaders say it has side benefits, such as improving school attendance and raising reading levels. For example, in one summer, participants' reading-test scores jumped an average of one grade level.

"That's pretty amazing since we aren't studying reading," said Cheryl R. Hughes, the program's director. "The kids learn through the arts."

The project started in 1991 as a summer program headquartered in an abandoned downtown block and has expanded to include an after-school program in 30 of the city's 75 public high schools. Students apply for jobs to work with artists in many mediums, including writing, painting, stone carving, and dancing.

Gallery 37 draws funding from federal, state, and local job-training and arts programs, as well as from private donations.

With its prize money, Gallery 37 plans to produce a video and manual to help other cities set up similar programs.

--DAVID J. HOFF

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