Our History

Ingenuity was founded in 2011 to increase arts education access, quality and equity in CPS in direct response to decades of arts divestment. We believe Chicago has a once in-a-generation opportunity to make change within the arts on a scale that matters.

  • 1979

    CPS shortens the school day. Coupled with increasing pressure to perform in core content areas such as math and literacy, the shortened day leads many district and school leaders to de-emphasize arts education.

  • 1990s

    The rise of Local School Councils gives individual schools more authority to determine budgets, curricula, and programming, affording schools with more opportunities to work with teaching artists and arts organizations to develop unique arts programs.

  • 1999

    The Magnet Cluster Initiative supports 60 schools in developing school-wide, curriculum-based fine and performing arts programs.

  • 2003

    With the support from The Chicago Community Trust, CPS launches 17 arts demonstration schools that share resources and model sequential instruction in visual arts, dance, theatre, and music.

  • 2006

    Local foundations fund a revamped CPS Department of Arts Education, signaling the growing importance of the arts to local civic and CPS leaders.

  • 2008

    The Wallace Foundation and RAND Corporation publish Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination on the state of arts education, noting that Chicago’s public schools remain weak in planning and provision of the arts. In response, more than 400 representatives from schools, arts organizations, CPS, and local funders participate in the Chicago Arts Learning Initiative (CALI), which calls for better coordination of resources to create sustainable access to the arts for Chicago children.

  • 2011

    Ingenuity is founded to carry out CALI’s vision.

  • 2012

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the City of Chicago, and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events lead the creation of the first city-wide Cultural Plan in 25 years. In town hall sessions, Chicagoans call for more arts in CPS schools. Ingenuity and community leaders help CPS create the Arts Education Plan, and the Chicago Board of Education declares the arts a core subject alongside traditional academic subjects.

  • 2013

    CPS launches the Creative Schools Initiative. Developed in collaboration with Ingenuity, the initiative provides incentives, accountability measures, road maps, and technical assistance to help schools grow their arts instruction.

    • The Creative Schools Fund, part of the initiative since 2013, has to date awarded more than $12 million in grants directly to schools.
    • The Creative Schools Certification is added to the CPS School Report Card, providing parents and community members a quick look at the state of the arts at individual schools.
  • 2015

    CPS recognizes media arts as a discipline and prepares to add it to the Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. The Guide provides a scope and sequence in the visual and performing arts for principals and instructors and serves as a road map to connect curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the arts.

  • 2017

    Ingenuity publishes the Arts Partner Standards of Practice, or APSP, for use by the more than 1,100 arts organizations and teaching artists who work with CPS schools. The APSP include tools and processes to help arts organizations improve arts program outcomes. The APSP also establish consensus values about how to define, assess, evaluate, and improve the quality of teaching artist instruction.

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