Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and The Wallace Foundation today announced a partnership to provide innovative, high-quality arts programming for under served youth that stimulates learning, inspires creativity and encourages self-expression. The largest arts funder in BGCA’s history, The Wallace Foundation has made a $5.35 million, two-and-a-half year commitment to BGCA to launch the Youth Arts Initiative in Boys & Girls Clubs.
Over the next three years, the Youth Arts Initiative will develop programs based on 10 principles of high-quality arts programming in select Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation. Described in Wallace’s report, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts, these principles were derived from a study of exemplary arts organizations serving youth, interviews with leading experts in arts education and youth development, and more than 150 interviews with “tweens” about what they want in arts programs. The principles will serve as guideposts for the design of innovative programming for tweens at Boys & Girls Clubs.
In keeping with Wallace’s approach of both delivering local benefits and generating knowledge useful to the field as a whole, Wallace has commissioned an independent evaluation of BGCA’s Youth Arts Initiative from Research for Action in Philadelphia that will be shared with the youth development field. The aim is to develop evidence about outcomes for participating youth and how organizations can implement quality arts programs.
“Young people who participate in the arts are more likely to succeed in everything from learning to life, yet access to quality arts education continues to decline, especially for the youth Clubs serve,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of BGCA. “Through our partnership with The Wallace Foundation, we are expanding access to these vital arts experiences for children from disadvantaged circumstances, thus helping to level the playing field for their future success.”
Research shows that involvement in the arts can help promote essential skills including problem-solving, self-expression, teamwork and persistence. However, according to a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts study, Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation, children from low-income families are 50 percent less likely to participate in arts programs in school than youth from affluent families. Evidence suggests a similar picture for afterschool opportunities, including the arts. A 2009 Census Bureau survey (A Child’s Day 2009) found that between 38 percent and 44 percent of children from higher-income families, those with annual income of $72,000, were enrolled in lessons, clubs or sports outside of school. But among children from the lowest income families, those with annual income of less than $18,000, enrollment fell to 20 percent or less.
In celebration of March as Youth Art Month, the Youth Arts Initiative’s initial programs were launched at three Boys & Girls Club organizations with more organizations to be added in the coming years.
• Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay is focused first on digital music production.
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota is focused first on hip hop and step dance.
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is focused first on hip hop and step dance.
Read the key findings of the Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts report from The Wallace Foundation.