The Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago and Evanston/Skokie School District 65, have received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The four-year grant will fund arts education programs in the district’s three middle schools.

The Arts Integration Mentorship Project lets artists and teachers create an original curriculum aligned with state common core standards.

The Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant is the largest of eight funded by the federal government this year and the only one awarded to a higher education institution.

“Expanding our partnership with Evanston Schools presents an outstanding opportunity to go deeper and wider with integrating arts into school curricula,” said David Flatley, executive director of CCAP said in a statement. “We will also be able to make a significant contribution to the field as we articulate the process for how such a model can be replicated and expanded across a district after having taken root in a small number of schools. That is part of what this DOE initiative has always aimed to accomplish.”

The distinctive attribute of MSEED lies in its approach to student outcomes and professional development for teachers. The program includes extensive evaluation, measuring student achievement in mathematics and reading, management and critical thinking skills. Teachers will be measured by their increased ability to create and deliver arts integrated curriculum.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with CCAP to expand the arts integration initiative that has been so successful at our magnet schools,” said Susan Schultz, District 65’s assistant superintendent for middle, magnet and special schools. “This grant allows us to address student achievement and student engagement along with the Common Core State Standards as we develop a culture of arts integration in our middle schools.”

Columbia’s arts program already has a partnership with District 65’s two magnet schools.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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