Christmas came early today for the Dallas Independent School District, which could use good news like it could use $8 million in grant money. That's how much it got from the New York-based Wallace Foundation, whose mission is to "enable institutions to expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people." Today, DISD's that institution: The money will go toward establishing the Dallas Arts Learning Initiative (DALI), a partnership between the district, the city and Dallas cultural organizations that will "connect and coordinate the efforts of Dallas' schools, libraries, cultural institutions, community-based organizations and others to provide access to high-quality arts learning." The press release announcing the grant says it's believed to be the largest arts-education grant in state history.
This would seem to pair nicely with money DISD received in March from the Ford Foundation: $250,000 for a pilot program geared toward bringing the arts into the classroom, as we mentioned at the time. And last year, the Ford Foundation also gave a $270,000 grant to Big Thought (formerly Young Audiences of North Texas), with the intention of building "parental and community support for and engagement in Dallas ArtsPartners, a national model for integrating the arts across a large urban school system." Appropriately enough, Big Thought will also manage the Dallas Arts Learning Initiative established with the Wallace Foundation's $8 million check.
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The release also says that a public briefing will be held January 18 to formally announce just how the DALI program will be introduced into the district and the first Dallas neighborhoods that will be affected. --Robert Wilonsky