New fund brings art, music to classrooms

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Picasso Project, an arts enrichment fund designed to support classroom teachers’ efforts to integrate art and music experiences into the curriculum, has been launched with the endorsement of over a dozen local education advocacy and activist organizations.

The Picasso Project fund will award mini-grants of up to $5,000 to school staff members across the city for efforts to enrich the curriculum with art and music. The first grants will be awarded in January.

The Project was spearheaded by two School District employees and is housed at Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). It will be guided by a steering committee of public education stakeholders and representatives of the arts community. The grants will be funded through a community effort.

At the announcement of the new fund in the art room at Meredith School, Shelly Yanoff, executive director of PCCY, echoed words colorfully displayed on the wall, “Art reminds us how to dream,” and added, “and art also reminds us how to learn.”

Vicki Ellis, a School District employee involved with the project, emphasized that the effort is not intended to reduce the state’s and District’s responsibility for equitable funding.

“We will work with our public officials to advocate for full and fair funding for our schools, and we will work with our colleagues, neighbors, and friends to raise funds to bring some of the arts back to our schools,” commented Ellis.

The Picasso Project was announced on the heels of a report by PCCY and the Alliance Organizing Project (AOP) that details the declining presence of music and art programs in Philadelphia public schools and the importance of those programs to overall student learning.

For more information, contact Aldustus Jordan at 215-563-5848, ext.12.