TFAC develops mini-grant system to fund arts in educationPublished 8:43am Friday, August 2, 2013
Educators in eight Polk County and South Carolina District One schools will be awarded funding of up to $500 each to carry out arts-related projects in the 2013-2014 school year through a Tryon Fine Arts Center program supporting teachers and creativity in the classroom. The mini-grant program, named Be Inspired Grant (B.I.G.) Program, is managed by Arts in Education Committee Chair, Sue Z Truitt and TFAC Education Director Marianne Carruth.
“We are inspired by a recent article in The Washington Post that lists 10 life skills learned through the arts: creativity, confidence, problem solving, perseverance, focus, non-verbal communication, receiving constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication and accountability. These grants are a way to help develop these skills that contribute to academic and life success for our children,” said Truitt.
In March the board of directors voted to put this project in motion immediately to allow teachers to plan ahead for the next school year. They advanced a total of $5000 with the understanding that the money would be raised through private and corporate sponsorship throughout the year. The competitive grants were offered to K-12 teachers in Polk County and Spartanburg County District One Schools, as well as registered non-public schools. Teachers were asked to briefly describe the project, explaining how it will use the arts to enhance learning in the classroom, describe the outcomes they wish to achieve and provide an itemized budget.
A total of 21 applications were received in mid-June with requests totaling $10,744. Using a similar grant program from the Education Foundation of Sarasota, Fla. as a guide, Truitt and Carruth developed an evaluation form for the requests. Each request was scored on a scale of one to five in each of the following categories: impact, creativity, activities and goals, relevance to the arts, budget and overall presentation.
At the end of June, Truitt and Carruth asked a varied group of eight community members made up of ministers, retired teachers, businesspeople and artists from Polk and Spartanburg County to meet for a single session to evaluate the grant requests. None of the evaluators currently works for or has children in any of the schools, but all share a common passion for children, arts and education. During the session, each application was read and scored by four different evaluators. No discussion was held regarding the projects. When their job was done, evaluators did not know which projects received funding.