A Grant Program for States to Propose How to Expand Arts Courses Opportunities for K-12 Students

On April 27, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a new grant competition which would allow select States to expand access to arts courses in K-12 schools. Applications for the Expanding Access to Well-Rounded Courses Demonstration Grants program must be submitted by June 26. ED has outlined that this competitive grant program will have $6.47 million in total funds and estimates it will award about $2 million per year to 2 to 4 States.

While this is a modest program, it provides a valuable opportunity for states to propose how to expand arts course opportunities for K-12 students and more holistically implement an arts education curriculum across a state. This announcement provides an opportunity for GIA members to encourage and/or partner with State Education Agencies (SEAs) to submit applications for this program and further drive the arts to reach students in underserved communities that experience a lack of equitable access to arts education.

As you may know from GIA’s previous webinar “New Horizons in Arts Education: The Student Support and Academic Enrichment program," the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program is a program under ESEA which provides key federal resources that can be used by States, school districts and schools to provide access to and courses in the arts for our nation’s public school students. The new program for which ED is currently inviting applications is being established using the SSAE program’s two percent reservation funds for technical assistance and capacity building to help SEAs and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) carry out the program.

The program’s stated absolute priority, which will guide its competition, is “expanding access to well-rounded courses,” which under the Every Student Succeeds Act, specifically includes the arts. Specifically, ED states that it seeks to help build the capacity of SEAs and LEAs to provide well-rounded educational opportunities by demonstrating models for delivering such opportunities that make courses broadly available to students. Thus, this is an opportunity for organizations to engage with states to intentionally consider equity as relates to well-rounded program access, as well as an opportunity for the field to both bolster and build out evidence for arts education.

More information on the grant announcement and application requirement is available at this link. Below is an outline of what applications submitted by SEAs for the grant program must include.

  1. A description of the SEA’s approach to developing or expanding, and implementing, a course-access program using this grant;
  2. A plan for promoting awareness of and participation in the SEA’s course-access program using this grant;
  3. A description of the SEA’s approach to paying for students’ participation in course offerings funded under this grant;
  4. A project plan that includes a specific timeline for developing or expanding, and implementing a course-access program; and
  5. A description of how an SEA will document and disseminate the results of the funded project.

Seize this opportunity now to reach out to your state department of education and to encourage them to apply for this grant program in order to expand access to the arts, and to see how you can help as they consider project design and submitting an application.

To learn more about how your State is using federal funds under ESSA to support arts education and programming and learn how you can engage, please visit GIA’s Guide on use of Federal Funds for Arts Education.