Ford Foundation's Gotta Art of Gold

According to this Associated Press story, coming out of Harlingen (got me), Dallas is among a handful of cities about to receive some $250,000 for a pilot program geared toward bringing the arts into the public school classroom. This money's coming from the New York-based Ford Foundation, which makes sense: A few months ago, the 70-year-old private non-profit foundation published a report titled "Deep in the Arts of Texas," which claimed:

"Since 1998 all but a few of the [Dallas'] 157 public elementary schools have been working with museums, theaters and other arts groups for the express purpose of boosting students' academic achievement. In that time the nation's 12th-largest school district has built a stronger teaching force, engaged students through new ways of learning and brought marked improvement in literacy, particularly writing. As a result, Dallas now serves as a model of curriculum reform for communities from Baltimore and Charlotte, N.C., to St. Louis and Jackson, Miss."

Really? The Dallas Independent School District serves as a positive role model? Had no idea. The press person at the Ford Foundation is trying to find out more info about the grant; the person in charge of it is getting on a plane right now, so details are hard to come by. At the moment, though, some kind of press conference is scheduled for tomorrow. (Unless DISD officials are too busy rounding up student protesters skipping class a third day.)

The foundation does have a nice track record of being generous with local organizations. In 2003, it gave $8,000 to the West Dallas Neighborhood Development Corporation to create a West Dallas Oral History Project, which would "record, preserve and archive the community's decades-long struggle for environmental justice." And last year, it gave a whoppng $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." --Robert Wilonsky

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