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Kennedy Center announces Trenton as partner city for Any Given Child

Rider to serve as strategic partner, supporting implementation of K-8 program
09/16/2015

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has chosen Trenton, New Jersey for the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, a program that creates a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K-8. The program will incorporate existing resources of the Trenton Public Schools, local arts organizations, and the Kennedy Center to create a strategy for arts education specific to the city. Trenton is the 19th city across the nation to join the program.

Any Given Child seeks to bring access and equity to each student’s arts education, using an affordable model that combines the resources of the school district, local arts and community organizations, and the Kennedy Center. With the assistance of expert consultation services provided by Kennedy Center staff and other professionals, community leaders develop a strategy for arts education that is tailor-made for the school district and community. “The students of Trenton are on the path to be inspired and energized through the arts,” said Kennedy Center Senior Vice President of Education Mario Rossero. “We are particularly grateful to our National Committee member, Georgeanne Moss, to the Trenton Public Education Foundation which submitted the application on behalf of the Trenton School District, and to Mayor Jackson and Dr. Durán, for their tireless efforts to bring this day to fruition. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this program will have on the Trenton community.”

“The Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child grant offers a wonderful opportunity for our school children and the City of Trenton,” said Trenton Mayor Eric E. Jackson. “It will showcase the talent of our children and teaching staff, and highlight the rich and diverse artistic and cultural community which calls Trenton home. My office looks forward to working with other members of the Community Arts Team in the development and implementation of a strategic arts education plan working directly with the Kennedy Center for the Trenton school district.” “The Trenton School District looks forward to working with the local arts organizations and local leaders on the development of the district arts education strategic plan,” said Trenton Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán. “I strongly support the goals of this initiative which are aligned with the District’s short and long-term goals for arts education”

By working with local arts organizations and using existing resources, the program aims to minimize administrative overhead, thus remaining affordable. The Kennedy Center covers the majority of the cost, but also requires sites to contribute funds toward the first four years of the program. A member of the Kennedy Center’s National Committee for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Georgeanne “Georgie” Gould Moss of Princeton, New Jersey, is responsible for the funding. Georgie made a gift in memory of her late father, Dr. Kenneth S. Gould, MD. A pediatrician and psychiatrist, Dr. Gould was a professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, served as a member of the New Jersey Governor's Committee on Children's Services, and frequently lectured on infant, child and adolescent development.

“I am thrilled Trenton was chosen as the 19th site for the Any Given Child program,” said Kennedy Center National Committee for the Performing Arts member Georgeanne Moss. “As a National Committee member, I’ve seen firsthand how this wonderful program offers artistic resources for children in underserved communities. Two years ago, I had a vision and dream to bring the resources of the Kennedy Center to our local community. I am honored that so many others felt the same way and helped to turn this vision into reality.”

Rider University will be a strategic partner for this program and will use its resources and expertise to enrich the strategic planning process and implementation of the program. Rider's faculty and students from its renowned Westminster College of the Arts will be integral in bringing artistic opportunities to the students in the Trenton schools.

Matthew Shaftel, Ph.D., dean of Rider University's Westminster College of the Arts, said, “Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts supports the fundamental belief that all students should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, both in school and out of school. Students participating in the arts are engaged in life and are empowered to be fulfilled, responsible citizens who make a profound, positive impact on our world. We also understand the importance of strategic partnerships in achieving this goal, and therefore are proud to be engaged in this exciting program, and look forward to bringing our talented students to the schools in the city of Trenton.”

The first phase of the program is the community’s comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources and needs assessment facilitated by Kennedy Center staff and consultants and coordinated by the Trenton Public Education Foundation. A review of the community and the school system will reveal what arts education resources currently exist and where the gaps are for students. Based on this information, the community creates a plan to bring more access to arts education for all K-8 students. The audit process takes approximately nine months.

During phase two of the program, a committee of community members makes recommendations to the school district and local arts groups on how to best implement the recently created strategic plan, focusing on increasing arts opportunities for K-8 students. In addition, educators and artists can take advantage of a wealth of resources available from the Kennedy Center, such as supplemental lessons with online interactive learning modules and videos available on the Kennedy Center website, and professional development for teachers and teaching artists. The goal of this second phase is to provide a tapestry of arts education, strategically weaving together existing arts resources within the schools with those available from community providers and the Kennedy Center in order to reach every child.

Since the program’s inception, Any Given Child sites have reported numerous successes: some school districts have hired additional arts teachers or added administrative positions; new sources of funding for arts education have been established; communities have expanded arts offerings for students; and sites have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists, and local arts organizations to build their capacity to deliver high-quality arts education to students.