The iLEAD Charter School Network has received a $23,800 Arts Ed Collective Advancement Grant from the L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture that will allow it to greatly expand digital arts education and exposure to the arts for underserved communities in three of its campuses: Founding school SCVi in Castaic; iLEAD Antelope Valley Hybrid in Lancaster; and iLEAD Exploration Hybrid.
A grant award letter to iLEAD Schools CEO Amanda Fischer, from Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo and L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda, states that the 2023-24 grant “offers financial support to help school districts advance the scale, quality and equitable distribution of arts instruction in schools for every young person, particularly those students who have been historically underserved.”
“This grant is a testament to our commitment to providing our students with enriching and diverse educational experiences, and we are excited to see how it will empower them to explore their creativity and express themselves through the arts,” iLEAD California CEO Amanda Fischer said in a news release.
The Arts Advancement Grant, which must be applied for every year, provides hard-to-come-by seed money that recipients can use to initiate or expand an arts program, the release said. A recent example is the Virtual Reality elective at iLEAD Lancaster, which was launched as a 10-week class funded by this grant in 2021, and has since expanded to a year-round offering at two campuses. Equipment purchased to launch a new class offering can continue to be used year after year.
Here is how the money received for the 2023-24 school year will be used, according to SCVi and iLEAD Arts and Community Outreach Coordinator Sara McDaniels:
• SCVi (A TK-12 School): SCVi will expand its career and technical education offerings to include digital-based art and design. The funds provided will allow SCVi to purchase state-of-the-art, industry-standard digital art tools such as drawing tablets, computers, monitors, and industry-standard software subscriptions. This new class offering will serve students in grades 9-12.
• iLEAD Antelope Valley Hybrid (A TK-8 School): Thanks to previous Arts Advancement Grant funding in 2022-23, iLEAD Antelope Valley Hybrid has increased its arts education offerings tremendously following the pandemic. This year’s grant will be used to expand arts instruction to include a photography elective for grades 4-8. Funds will be used to purchase digital cameras, tripods, memory cards, editing software, and the means to display student work.
• iLEAD Exploration Hybrid (A TK-12 School): iLEAD Exploration provides “Exploring the Arts,” a series of visual arts classes, offered at no charge. The funds from the grant will enable iLEAD Exploration to expand this opportunity by providing a series of artist residency classes introducing learners to world music, dance, theater and media arts. The series will be provided at no cost to families over eight weeks in the spring, with four artist residencies lasting two weeks each.
“This project aims to bring arts learning to Exploration families who do not have access to arts experiences at the same level as learners who reside in the Los Angeles area, where there is an abundance of arts learning opportunities,” McDaniels said in the release. “By holding these classes at the Acton Learning Studio, iLEAD Exploration families residing in the northern rural and remote region of the county will gain access to a more equitable arts education experience.”
Importantly for program expansion efforts, McDaniels said, iLEAD Schools plans to hire highly qualified art instructors with extensive experience not only in education, but also in the working world within their fields of artistic expertise, to provide a rich learning experience for participants.