New Initiative to Address Equitable Engagement in Inclusion Classrooms


ArtsConnection, The New Victory Theater and Community-Word Project Launch GIVE to Improve Arts Education for Students with Disabilities 

New Initiative to Address Equitable Engagement in Inclusion Classrooms

New York, NY (March 19, 2019) — This week, ArtsConnection, The New Victory Theater and Community-Word Project launch GIVE, an invaluable arts education resource that will serve the more than 12,500 students with disabilities enrolled in New York City public schools.

Thanks to a $600,000, two-year grant from the New York Community Trust, GIVE or “Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement: A Teaching Artist Planning Guide for Best Arts Engagement Practices in Inclusion Classrooms” will enable all three arts nonprofits, who share a commitment to engage every child in the classroom through the arts, an opportunity to create systemic improvements to arts education for inclusion classrooms containing a mixed student body of those with and without disabilities.

“The Trust is committed to supporting students with disabilities and is excited by GIVE’s potential to improve inclusive arts education. The initiative fills a critical training gap for teaching artists and will influence more than 12,000 students’ experience,” says The New York Community Trust.

As students with unique learning needs are being integrated into general education classrooms in New York City public schools, arts educators are challenged with how to ensure that all students are able to fully engage with arts curricula. GIVE will result in a toolbox of flexible resources that will help Teaching Artists of all arts disciplines to effectively plan, implement and reflect on arts learning in integrated classes, and encourage students with disabilities to demonstrate their learning.

“The goal of GIVE is to equip teaching artists across the city with the very best tools to gauge and respond flexibly and effectively to students’ varying needs and wide range of abilities,” says Courtney J. Boddie, New Victory Director of Education, School Engagement. “We hope this project’s discoveries and new engagement strategies, which will be made available online, will ultimately benefit the national and international arts-in-education field.”

GIVE will be developed through a rigorous two-year process, working in close collaboration with community stakeholders, including school administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and parents, among others. Two external research experts, ERm Research and WolfBrown will support the development of GIVE, providing initial information gathering on effective practices and needs from current providers and developing evaluation tools to gauge the effectiveness of the program, sharing results through regular feedback and formal reporting.

The project will culminate with the dissemination of GIVE at a Teaching Artist Summit in 2021 and the launching of a dedicated website that will include links to relevant literature, videos of Teaching Artists demonstrating effective practices in classrooms, written materials (e.g., planning templates, classroom resources, visual aids, graphic organizers, and assessment strategies), as well as research and evaluation conducted during project development.

ArtsConnection, The New Victory Theater and Community-Word Project, which employ a combined 230+ Teaching Artists and already serve nearly 400 schools, are thrilled to leverage their significant reach and benefit from each other’s unique expertise and perspectives so that New York City students with disabilities can join their fellow schoolmates in active and meaningful engagement with the arts.

About Our Partners

The New Victory Theater brings kids to the arts and the arts to kids. Created in 1995 on iconic 42nd Street, this nonprofit theater has become a standard-bearer of quality performing arts for young audiences in the United States. An ADA compliant venue, The New Victory offers sign-interpreted and audio-described performances all season long. As the largest provider of both live performances and arts education for New York City Schools, The New Victory annually serves 40,000 kids who see high quality, international productions for only $2 or less per ticket, and participate in nearly 1,400 free classroom workshops before and after their visits. Reflecting and serving the multicultural city it calls home, The New Victory is committed to arts access for all students, teachers, kids, families and communities of New York to experience and engage with the exemplary programming of theater, dance, circus, music, puppetry and opera on its stages. A leader in arts education, youth employment and audience engagement, The New Victory Theater has been honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, by Americans for the Arts with a national Arts Education Award, and by the Drama Desk for “providing enchanting, sophisticated children’s theater that appeals to the child in all of us, and for nurturing a love of theater in young people.”

Community-Word Project (CWP) is a New York City based arts-in-education organization that inspires young people to become active citizens through collaborative arts residencies and teacher training programs. Community-Word Project believes creative learning through the arts gives children the opportunity to practice critical thinking skills and express themselves confidently while respecting other points of view. Teaching students to solve problems creatively, to communicate clearly, and to collaborate with others gives them skills necessary to reach their learning potential. Since 1997, CWP has educated more than 25,000 students and trained over 800 Teaching Artists. Each year CWP serves 3,000 youth in NYC public schools, public libraries, and community centers. Through a co-teaching and multidisciplinary model, students in CWP Collaborative Arts Residency Programs hone the academic, interpersonal, and creative skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. CWP’s Teaching Artist Project’s (TAP) comprehensive, skills-training seminars and on-the-job internships provide students with the qualified artists they need to meet their individual needs and exceed city- and state-mandated learning standards. Additionally, the Teaching Artist Project leads the TAP Cohort, a group of 17 arts-in-education organizations providing meaningful arts engagement for young people, adults, and seniors. The TAP Cohort provides beginning through advanced level professional development for hundreds of Teaching Artists in the greater NYC area.

About our Funder

The New York Community Trust is a grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving New York City and its suburbs. It connects individuals, families, foundations, and businesses with vital nonprofits working to make a healthy, equitable, and thriving community today and tomorrow.