Grant from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Supporting New Media Arts Courses

Grant from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Supporting New Media Arts Courses
Posted on 03/31/2017

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Seattle Public Schools (SPS), in partnership with the city of Seattle, will open up new career and college pathways for city youth to graduate from high school “Seattle Ready,” by establishing new media arts courses in the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center. Skills Center courses, taught by industry professionals, will enable students to be competitive in the local workforce and provide the opportunity to live and work in Seattle.

SPS has received a grant of $395,000 from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to fund the creation of new Media Arts courses offered through the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center. The grant will be supplemented by an additional $175,000 from the city of Seattle. Providing an initial investment, this external financial support will lead to a sustainable program. The new Media Arts courses will begin in July and students can apply today.

“We believe youth access to media arts education is essential to nurturing and encouraging creativity, self-expression and critical thinking,” said Dave Ferrero, senior program officer of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Our hope is that our support of the Skills Center and the Media Arts program will help close opportunity gaps in arts education for Seattle students.” 

The Skills Center provides SPS students ages 16-20 access to a variety of career and technical education (CTE) courses taught by industry professionals that lead to industry careers and college. Skills Center offerings include aerospace, auto technology, nursing, construction, culinary sciences and now, media arts. In many cases, students can earn college credit or industry certification. Free transportation to courses is provided as needed. 

Arts and culture are big business in the Puget Sound region, so a media arts education can help students become participants in a vibrant sector of the local economy. Nonprofit cultural organizations alone account for approximately 35,000 jobs, $1 billion in labor income and $100 million in taxes collected, according to ArtsFund's 2014 Economic Impact Study. Additionally, revenue for these nonprofits was over $500 million while their patrons spent nearly $700 million on tickets, dining out, lodging, transportation, child care services, and other expenditures. The impacts of these expenditures ripple throughout the economy of the entire state.

The grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will bolster the district and city partnership to close opportunity gaps in arts education. The Creative Advantage, is a partnership which includes Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, The Seattle Foundation and local community arts organizations. The city is directing its financial support for the new Media Arts courses through The Creative Advantage.

“We are excited to announce the public-private partnership with SPS and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who share the city’s vision to address education issues,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Providing real world experience in today’s creative economy ensures our students have the advantage they need to succeed.”

Another benefit of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant is preparing SPS for the eventual adoption of education standards for media arts by the state of Washington. After the release of media arts standards by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards in 2014, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction convened a cadre of educators who have been guiding the adoption of those standards for Washington. Opening Skills Center Media Arts courses will help position the district to meet those standards which are scheduled to be adopted later this month.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has also provided a $70,000 grant for the startup costs of a Regional Student Arts Showcase, which in its first year, will highlight visual and performing arts programs at Creative Advantage schools.

“These resources will open up new pathways for students as they prepare for college, career, and life,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland. “We’re incredibly grateful for the support of our city partners and private organizations like the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.”

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