Donate and Double Your Impact Today: Help Ingenuity Provide Art Programs to CPS Students

When leaders in Chicago’s arts sector came together 10 years ago to start Ingenuity, their goal was to ensure that quality art education programs were available to every student in every Chicago public school. 

Today, Ingenuity celebrates its 10th anniversary and a decade of progress in ensuring quality and equitable art programs across the city’s schools. The non-profit organization works to increase access to art education programs through grant awards, data and advocacy. 

merit school of music
Merit School of Music at Carson Chicago. Photo by Jasmin Shah

The 10th anniversary virtual event, Ingenuity@10: Igniting Equity in Arts Education, will feature world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson. 

“Much has changed in 10 years, but what remains certain is Ingenuity’s commitment to supporting Chicago’s arts sector,” Ingenuity Executive Director Paul Sznewajs said in a news release. “We are excited to celebrate 10 years of accomplishments made by our students, educators, and partners, and, most importantly, to raise support for the next decade of progress in education. 

Since its founding in 2011, Ingenuity has helped increase access to arts programs across the city’s schools. About 75,000 more CPS students have access to the arts compared to 10 years ago, the organization said. The past decade also has seen a 97% increase in the number of Chicago public schools providing access to art programming.

Ingenuity also was part of advocacy efforts that led to Illinois becoming the first state in the nation to include the arts as an indicator of K-12 success. It awarded nearly $16 million in Creative School Fund grants to support art programming that has reached more than 200,000 CPS students. Ingenuity also offers an online arts education data platform, called artlook, which is used by CPS teachers and educators across the country. 

“The last 10 years have given us many reasons to celebrate,” Ingenuity Board Chairwoman Francia Harrington said. 

Chicago Youth Centers and Foundations of music
Photo by Monica Wizgird

The virtual event will honor the 1,400 CPS arts teachers and the 600 arts organizations Ingenuity serves. Proceeds from the benefit will help fuel efforts for equity in arts education for the 340,000 CPS students and the 642 schools Ingenuity works with every year. 

While progress has been made in the past decade, the pandemic and racial injustice have highlighted existing gaps and stressors within school communities. 

Currently, 35% of CPS students do not have consistent access to arts programs in their schools, Ingenuity notes, and those students are disproportionately Black and low-income. 

“We believe that every child deserves access to the arts,” an Ingenuity blog post said. “When students have access to arts education, reading and math skills improve and high school graduation rates increase, among many positive outcomes.”

The post also noted that art programs offer opportunities not just for learning, but also for students to heal from the stressors of the past year. 

How you can help

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Join Ingenuity’s 10th anniversary celebration  at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18. 

You can also make a charitable contribution to help advance arts education programs for Chicago Public School students. 

Better will match contributions up to $10,000, doubling your contribution.  

Ingenuity@10 sponsors include the Margot & Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation, Nancy and Steve Crown and The Crown Family, Exelon, Jim and Kay Mabie, and Capital Group. 

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Alicia Fabbre is a Chicago-area freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Naperville Sun and Daily Southtown. She lives in the suburbs with her husband and their twin teenagers. When she’s not working, she enjoys bike riding or walking the trails at her local forest preserve, cheering on her student athletes and family game nights.

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