The Creative Schools Fund (CSF), a public-private grant program entity administered by Ingenuity, awarded $1.7 million in Arts Partnerships (Residency) grants to 91 Chicago Public Schools (CPS). These teacher-designed programs are critical for providing immediate and high-quality arts education experiences to students. Funding reaches all CPS Networks, students in every grade, and across a myriad of artistic disciplines. This includes multi-semester schools who received an award in SY 22-23 and will be able to provide consistent support to CPS teachers and arts education partners through Spring 2026. 

Since its founding in 2013, CSF has invested over $21 million in grants directly to CPS schools, driving quality arts partnerships and arts education access across the District.

“CSF is the only funding effort in Chicago that exclusively supports teacher-designed arts programs and prioritizes schools with the least systemic access to funding opportunities,” said Nicole Upton, Executive Director at Ingenuity. 

One such program was implemented during the fall 2023 semester between George Manierre Elementary School and Changing Worlds. They collaborated on an arts education program designed to enhance student artistic achievement in the classroom. Students created an original line design painting inspired by West African artist Joseph Amedokpo (1946-present), and introduced students to art element lines (contour, continuous, outline) and design principles (composition, repetition, unity) relating to contemporary art.

“At CPS’ recent budget roundtable discussions, we heard the call from parents and community members for increased arts funding,” said CPS Arts Executive Director, César Toruella. “These competitive grant awards beautifully complement and expand upon CPS’ existing commitment to deepen student access to high quality arts education experiences and opportunities.”

In selecting the Spring 2024 schools receiving support, an independent 26-member participatory grant review panel carefully evaluated applications from schools across CPS. The panel is comprised of practicing artists, art therapy experts, social-emotional learning educators and CPS teachers and principals, among others.  The Panel considers a school’s Creative Schools Certification rating, community partners, school demographics, and the number of students receiving free or reduced meals. The panel is also conscious about including every arts discipline, and a cross-section of arts partner organizations within the sector – ensuring grant decisions are objective, fair and arts equity remains at the center.

A crucial element in multi-semester grants is the Lollapalooza Arts Education Fund (LAEF), launched in 2021, with a $2.2 million dollar five-year commitment. This investment focuses on schools with the most critical arts education needs as identified by Ingenuity’s data. Twenty-three LAEF schools  will receive Creative School Funds in Spring 2024.

“Because of corporate partners like C3 Presents, Lollapalooza, we are able to support schools for multiple semesters at a time,” said Taykhoom Biviji, Director for the Creative Schools Fund. “This investment is continuing to have a  direct and immediate impact on Chicago’s students and the arts education sector as a whole and we’re so grateful for their support towards our mission to ensure every student, in every grade, has access to quality arts education.”

About Ingenuity and the Creative Schools Fund
Ingenuity is a backbone arts education 501(c)(3) with core programs in data, advocacy, grant-making and professional learning. The organization’s collective-impact approach to arts advocacy drives partnerships, insights and investments in the arts for 330,000 students in Chicago Public Schools. A nationally recognized arts advocacy leader, Ingenuity has advanced the most progress in CPS arts education in 40 years. 

Celebrating its 10th year, Ingenuity’s Creative Schools Fund provides direct funding to CPS schools to build and bolster arts programs. By design, the Fund prioritizes  CPS schools with the least systemic arts access. Funded projects are collaborations between arts educators and external arts partners, bringing critical, immediate arts curriculum to students.

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