Federal grant program opens opportunities for Suffolk educators

Arts-based initiatives for high-school and middle-school students

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High-school and middle-school educators from all over Suffolk County have a unique and rewarding opportunity to bring the arts—in all inventive forms—to their students to enhance and guide their curricula through a new federal grant received by the Patchogue Arts Council.

“It’s really about collaboration between educators [teachers, counselors, coaches, administration], teaching artists, and our cultural partners [other arts organizations, civic organizations],” said Beth Giacummo, director of the Patchogue Arts Council.

The unprecedented initiative comes by way of the U.S. Department of Education’s $17 million investment into arts education programs around the country.

Patchogue Arts Council was granted a $1.8 million grant over five years, with $257,387 in its first year of operation.

Twenty-seven grants representing 15 states through the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program were part of the $17 million grant and included national nonprofit organizations, local school districts, colleges and universities, and other arts organizations, with the hopes to enrich the academic experience of and promote arts education for students, including disadvantaged students and students who are children with disabilities. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s blog, “The arts play a critical role in a child’s education. They allow students to become creative thinkers, to connect, design, and apply their learnings, which in turn prepares our children for the future workforce with the skills and capacity to think outside the box with creative solutions.”

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the arts and music have been added as subjects to the definition of a well-rounded education. There are national arts standards that have been established for the disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts, which include creating, observing, analyzing, presenting, interpreting and connecting, all of which are seen every day in the classroom across subjects.   

Under the AAE program, projects must include:

  • Professional development for arts educators, teachers, and principals;
  • Development and dissemination of accessible instructional materials and arts-based educational programming, including online resources, in multiple arts disciplines; and community and national outreach activities that strengthen and expand partnerships among schools, local educational agencies (LEAs), communities, or centers for the arts, including national centers for the arts. 
  • 15 AAE projects will include arts therapy in their projects to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, and/or reduce and resolve conflicts and distress.

What this specifically translates into for PAC is the Partners in Education, Arts, & Community Empowerment (PEACE) program that “empowers educators in Suffolk county middle and high schools to make more effective use of the arts for underrepresented students through College, Career, and Civic Readiness (CCCR) and Culturally Responsive-Sustaining education (CR-S), which are urgent issues in local, state, and national education.”

The PEACE project is the only funded Assistance in Arts Education (AAE) U.S. Department of Education grant project on Long Island.

“The PEACE project is committed to shaping a diverse, inclusive, and equitable art education community. We strive to create a welcoming and affirming environment where all individuals feel a sense of belonging. We strongly encourage applications from perspectives that have been historically underrepresented within our society, including but not limited to individuals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color), individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities,” said Giacummo.

The 2022 project year is limited to 15 educators and 15 teaching artists/cultural partners (one representative from a cultural partner) with selection notification being announced June 1, 2022.

The teaching artist Summer Institute will be held on June 28 and 29, 2022 and includes:

  • Monthly online gatherings to share best practices
  • Individualized coaching/mentoring as needed
  • Monthly “PEACE Nights Out” –VIP invitations to cultural gatherings, receptions and concerts 
  • Funding for an arts-based project with your students
  • Stipends and CTLE credit for selected educators
  • Certificate of completion for all participants
  • Complimentary membership to the Museum of Contemporary Art LI 
  • Teaching materials for classroom use
  • Participation in culminating Arts Conference for schools and community

Applications are still available for educators/teaching artists until May 1 and available here: https://form.jotform.com/220657358475162.

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