Access to quality arts education: this was the goal that Ingenuity was founded on 11 years ago. On Tuesday, June 14, Ingenuity celebrated its founding leaders, Francia E. Harrington and Paul Sznewajs, whose vision led the organization to where it is today — and those who will see it forward.
“Our strategies influence meaningful policy and systems change and make a much broader and deeper impact than just working school by school, organization by organization, or neighborhood by neighborhood,” shared Nicole Upton, Ingenuity’s new Executive Director, at the event. “This sector-wide approach is at the heart of systems-level change.”
Ingenuity exists where Chicago’s arts education organizations, arts educators, funders, and policymakers intersect. Ingenuity’s work focuses on advancing access to quality arts education by creating connections between these stakeholders and more, creating collaboration, efficiency, and collective impact in the sector.
“It’s important to remember that this is not about trying to create the next professional musician, actor or painter,” shared Krystal Grover-Webb, S.T.E.A.M. Program Art Teacher at Amelia Earhart Options for Knowledge School. “We don’t expect — or even want — perfection. Our goal is to give students opportunities for expression and creativity, and to enhance confidence, teamwork, critical thinking, and motivation for learning.”
Amelia Earhart Options for Knowledge School is a grantee of Ingenuity’s Creative Schools Fund, a grant-making partnership with Lollapalooza to expand arts education in Chicago Public Schools. With the grant, Grover-Webb was able to partner with Changing Worlds, a Chicago-based arts organization, to bring a teaching artist directly to her classroom.
Building this collaboration between CPS arts educators, teaching arts organizations, and other stakeholders proves to be effective.
“The support Forward Momentum receives as a partner to Johnnie Colemon Elementary Academy, a Creative Schools Fund grantee, helps us infuse the arts directly into classrooms where needs are greatest,” remarked Pierre Lockett, Executive Director of Forward Momentum Chicago, which brings dance education to Johnnie Colemon Elementary Academy students. “When we partner with a school, we pair our innovations in dance education with the educators’ ideas to develop a program that is the best fit for that school community.”
Attendees to Ingenuity’s fundraiser enjoyed performances by students of both Creative Schools Fund collaborations, along with a third featuring Acero Charter Schools— Victoria Soto students and guitar teachers from Chicago-based arts organization Lead Guitar.
Partnerships like these create impact for arts education in Chicago, along with Ingenuity’s other core programs. Ingenuity’s data and research program works to highlight the opportunities and challenges that face arts education in Chicago, and partnerships and learning then applies these insights to deliver professional development and network-building to arts educators and teaching artists.
All of this exists in tandem for one goal: ensuring that every school, in every grade, in every CPS school has equitable access to quality arts education.
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Ingenuity’s 2022 celebration was generously supported by the following sponsors: Savi Pai & Howard Randell and Capital Group Private Client Services, Nancy and Steve Crown and The Crown Family, Exelon, Jim and Karen Frank, Brent and Katie Gledhill, Susan and Nick Noyes, Margot & Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation, Robin Steans and Leonard Gail, BMO Harris, ITW, Gail and Tom Hodges, JPMorgan Chase, Julian Family Foundation, LaunchPad Lab, Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Family Foundation, Peoples Gas, PNC, Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Elaine and Richard Tinberg, Marilyn and David Vitale, Karim Ahamed, Ariel Investments, Lavin Family Foundation, Rita and John Canning, The Chicago Community Trust, Janet and Craig Duchossois, Efroymson Family Fund, Ellis Goodman Family, John Ettelson, The Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, David Gordon, Sidley Austin, Mirja Spooner Haffner, Francia E. Harrington and Vern Broders, The Huebner Family, Anne and Vincent Kelly, Karen Z. Gray-Krehbiel and John H. Krehbiel, Chicago Capital, Samuel M. And Ann S. Mencoff Foundation, Cathy and Bill Osborn, and Steve and Robin Solomon.