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learn / 2021

Creating Equity and Access Through the Arts for Students along the LA River

Creating Equity and Access Through the Arts for Students along the LA River

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Turnaround Arts: California

As an education partner for the comprehensive revitalization plan for communities along the LA River, Turnaround Arts: California will launch partnerships with two schools to support them in boldly re-designing their approach to teaching & learning with the arts at the center. Through professional development, coaching, planning & financial support, we will build the capacity of teachers & principals to leverage the arts to create safe, inclusive, & engaging learning environments where all students have the opportunity to thrive & succeed.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA
  • Other:: LA River Project is focused in South and Southeast LA but our work supports schools across the county of LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Communities along the LA River are disproportionately impacted by poverty and racial inequity. Lower socioeconomic status translates to other disadvantages including little to no access to arts and culture and under-resourced schools. LA County data shows that schools with a larger share of students of color offer less and lower quality arts instruction. Quantity and quality are also lower in schools with larger percentages of students enrolled in free and reduced price meals and schools with larger percentages of English learners. This is an issue of basic equity. While there is a clear connection between arts education and positive outcomes - including increased student engagement, sense of connection, academic achievement, attendance and graduation rates, and more - low income and students of color are routinely denied access to high quality arts education.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

TACA is serving as the education partner of the LA River revitalization project, a comprehensive plan to support nearby communities. We launched partnerships with four Southeast LA schools in 2018 with a commitment to expand to ten over a five year period. During the 21/22 school year we will launch partnerships with two additional schools. Along with an intensive onboarding process, we will provide: Arts Integration Coaching - We partner with P.S. ARTS to provide ongoing hands-on technical support at each school to help with implementation of school-wide arts goals, such as helping teachers design lessons that integrate arts into core subjects. Principal Coaching - One-on-one coaching helps principals build their leadership skills in and through the arts. Artistic Residencies and Community Engagement Projects - TACA will match each school with partner arts organizations to provide two hands-on artistic residency experiences for students during the school year, underwritten by TACA. This may include theatre with the Actor’s Gang or poetry with Get Lit: Words Ignite. In addition to exposing students to new artistic mediums, these residencies also build the capacity of teachers to integrate these art forms into curriculum. Funding also supports projects to engage families and boost school culture, such as Family Art Nights. Convenings with Statewide Network - We bring our schools from across CA together regularly for planning, peer exchange, and professional development.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

1,550
Direct impact
15,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

TACA’s innovative approach leverages a collaborative model for expanded impact. Through our partnerships with arts and education organizations in LA County we are supporting and complementing their work while also bringing together a diverse set of expertise to provide holistic solutions to the complex and interwoven social issues impacting the school communities along the LA River. In communities that have historically been denied access to resources and who have faced trauma, the arts are an effective tool to build connections across teachers and students from different backgrounds, and create an equitable and inclusive environment where students feel seen, celebrated, and supported. We empower teachers to take risks and create spaces that nurture innovative, critical 21st century thinkers who will be better prepared for the ever-changing job market and economy. Through the arts, we envision vibrant school environments where all students can thrive and succeed.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our eval tools including surveys, arts logs, and mid-year and year-end reports gather extensive qualitative and quantitative data. We track and have seen significant impact in 4 key areas: 1. Teachers have increased capacity to integrate the arts into classroom instruction to provide multiple, culturally and linguistically responsive entry points for learning. 2. Principals, teachers and other school staff share a clear vision and model collaborative leadership. 3. School culture and climate is improved and embraces an equity and growth mindset, supports risk-taking, collaboration, and empathy, and honors student voice and agency. 4. Family and community members are engaged as participants, advocates, volunteers, and equitable partners in learning. We also see improvements in English Language Arts and math proficiency, as well as a decrease in suspension and chronic absenteeism rates. We are currently exploring and piloting the measurement of more student-centered impacts.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Arts education
  • Student proficiency in English & Language Arts
  • K-8 chronic absenteeism

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE