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Foundations Supporting the Arts in Education Report

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2020


Since 1970s, the status of Arts education has declined in California public schools due to some measures enacted under the Ryan Act of 1970 that reduced the scope of elementary teacher preparation, leading to the removal of the subject. Additionally, the Proposition 13 significantly eliminated local tax revenues and technically removed arts education (Hardiman 1913). Nonetheless, schools are still struggling to get funds for arts education in the State of California. Without adequate resources, arts education in California has eroded (Dunstan 27).

For many years, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders have resolved to advance arts education in the State. For instance, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 strives to reform and strengthens arts education as a part of the core, integrated curriculum. Further, the law focuses on delivering challenging content standards in arts to students. Notably, offering fiscal resources for arts programs and adequate time for arts learning are necessary. In California, arts education is seen a means for attaining cultural literacy due to diversity of the State.

Thus, it promotes understanding and tolerance of different cultures. Arts education is also used to equip students with vital skills and abilities for further studies, for example, after high school. The focus for arts education has been on music, dance, visual arts, and theater, which strive to promote aesthetic appreciation and creative skills used in expression. This report covers foundations supporting K-12 arts education in the State of California by reviewing their application processes, but the scope does not cover amounts of grants allocation.

Foundations Supporting Arts Education, K-12

Supporters of arts education in schools, teacher education institutions, community, museums, cultural arts centers, and other private professional bodies have underscored the relevance of offering support and working together to promote the cause of arts education. In this case, the support of private foundation, which has conventionally promoted arts at local communities, remains important. Additionally, such private foundations have also supported arts education programs in centers of learning using sponsorship programs. It is imperative to understand that hundreds of foundations exist to support K-12 arts education, but this report will only focus on the selected few.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation asserts that it understands how arts instruction can advance multiple aspects of learners’ life, including performances in school. As such, the Foundation takes actual initiatives to ensure that all learners under its programs in California receive a quality arts education. The Foundation aims to promote arts through grantmaking, but ensures sustainable, high-quality educational programs at Bay Area. It stimulates access to and involvement in the arts, increases exposure to and comprehension of different cultural practices and expression; enhances chances for creative engagement for artists and audiences; and promotes sustained organizational health. The Foundation directly engages the public for grants using its online database and other tools, such as its Foundation Center and the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Ford Foundation

Ford Foundation is also a major support of K-12 education in arts in California. It is important to note that Ford Foundation has undertaken some restructuring programs to improve the impacts of its support. For instance, Ford’s Youth Education and Opportunity has been restructured to drive K-12 education programs. Additionally, the Ford Foundation has offered further support for research focusing on K-12 arts education in California. The Foundation has adopted Pathways for Youth Success, which concentrates on promoting public policies and partnership between public and private organizations.

Such an approach recognizes the hidden value of young people and investments that reinforces their abilities and chances by assisting them to progress for further studies after secondary education, as well as in their progress to quality engagements and in later life. As such, arts education assists youth to reduce obstacles that hinder their progress, and the Foundation wants to promote such efforts. The Foundation is open to new idea, and applicants are invited to submit their ideas using an online form. They should expect a response within 45 days if there is an interest in learning more.

Laird Norton Family Foundation

Laird Norton Family Foundation is focused on expanding arts education and improving outcomes. Notably, the Foundation starts to implement its programs that target formative years in PreK-12 to advance learning using arts. Its vision is to change youth’s lives and advance their learning using arts education. The Foundation promotes the use of quality arts instruction in learning institutions as a way to attain its main goal of assisting public schools to develop arts-integrated curricula and apply arts knowledge as a method to enhance the teaching of other subjects.

As such, the Foundation directs its financial support toward programs that aim to improve learners’ educational achievement instead of facilitating mere involvement in or just appreciation for the arts. Today, the Foundation pays attention to three distinct areas to promote arts in education through grant making. First, it facilitates the use and integration of arts in schools. In this case, the Foundation focuses on programs, which adopt techniques from arts for teaching different subjects (Hardiman et al. 144; Bush et al. 61).

This Foundation also advocates for methodical changes across school, district, and the state levels to ensure the inclusion of arts in education. Finally, it strives to ensure that arts programs are used to lessen learning gaps noted in educational attainments. The Foundation awards grants by invitation only, but there are rare cases of unsolicited inquiries. No phone calls are allowed before submitting an application.

Marin Community Foundation

Marin Community Foundation promotes adoption of arts to enhance education for marginalized children and others of color. As such, it supports learning opportunities for learners and teachers to develop, experience, and take part in many forms of arts from various parts of the world with the focus on increasing arts knowledge, awareness, and involvement for K–12 learners and facilitating collaboration amongst all stakeholders, including artists and schools. The Foundation focuses on disadvantaged Marin’s African American and Latino high school students, and it uses invitation-only application process. Applications are expected between February 27 and March 30 with a decision in May.

James Irvine Foundation

James Irvine Foundation used its Linked Learning program to stronger links between K-12 and higher education opportunities. The Foundation observes that the objective of the arts program is to advance a vibrant and accommodating artistic and cultural setting in California. The Foundation maintains that a vibrant arts must show the capability to develop art and link it to various people, opportunities to exploit, promote innovative and risk-taking strategies, which may assist the arts sector do its work more thoroughly in the future and realize advanced arts organizations in the future. The Foundation is currently not accepting any unsolicited inquiries for any new initiatives.


The State of California recognizes arts in education as a core subject, but the lack of resources has pushed many foundations to support arts in education through grants. While some foundations are open for inquiries and new ideas, others do not accept unsolicited inquiries.

Works Cited

Bush, Sarah B, et al. “Artist? Mathematician? Developing Both Enhances Learning!” Teaching Children Mathematics, vol. 22, no. 2, 2015, pp. 61-63.

Dunstan, David. “Sustaining Arts Programs in Public Education.” Journal of School Administration Research and Development, vol. 1. no. 2, 2016, pp. 27-36.

Hardiman, Mariale M. “Education and the Arts: Educating Every Child in the Spirit of Inquiry and Joy.” Creative Education vol. 7, no. 14, 2016): pp. 1913-1928.

Hardiman, Mariale, et al. “The Effects of Arts Integration on Long-Term Retention of Academic Content.” Mind, Brain, and Education, vol. 8 no. 3, 2014, pp. 144–148.

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