Helios Education Foundation and Arizona Community Foundation Announce Partnership with Opening Minds through the Arts Foundation

Posted on: April 28, 2011

The Arizona Community Foundation and Helios Education Foundation proudly announce the award of $500,000 to the Opening Minds through the Arts Foundation. This is the second year that Helios and ACF have jointly awarded grants to nonprofit organizations through the Accio Education Fund, a "venture capital" type of charitable fund created by the two organizations. The Fund, which is held and managed at ACF, was established to support the development and expansion of innovative education reform efforts for the benefit of Arizona students, with Helios and ACF contributing equally.

Opening Minds through the Arts was founded in 1999 when Tucson Symphony Orchestra board member Gene Jones brought together leaders from arts organizations, the University of Arizona, and the Tucson Unified School District to implement the program. With a focus on empowering educators and artists to use the arts to help children succeed in math, science and literacy, the OMA Foundation was formed in 2004 to support the program and pursue the mission of bringing arts integration to all students in every school. The Foundation's efforts to bring arts integration training to schools across Arizona began in 2009.

"This investment affirms our mission of bringing the arts into every classroom to help every child succeed in math, science and literature," said Donn Poll, executive director of the OMA Foundation.

Under the name of Arts Integration Solutions, the OMA Foundation offers services and support through training and certification, assessment tools, program modules, collaborative and peer networking, and material and web-based resources.

"We believe this grant is an opportunity to transform education in Arizona, to empower teachers to use the power of the arts to boost student achievement," Poll said. "If ever there were a moment in history when children need the arts to help them succeed in school, this is it. The Accio Fund's investment will help us make this a moment of change for education."

The OMA Foundation will use the Accio grant to further assist more schools and individuals in the state to tailor rigorous, results-driven collaboration using Arts Integration Solutions.

"Helios Education Foundation seeks to create partnerships that support and create opportunities for post-secondary education success. The Accio Fund partnership with Arizona Community Foundation is a great example of how our organizations have joined efforts to expand education reform initiatives in the state of Arizona," said Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation.

The OMA Foundation was chosen to receive the Accio grant after a thorough and inclusive six-month selection process.

"We were particularly impressed by the OMA Foundation's results," said Jim Pitofsky, ACF's education director. "Everyone involved in the process was moved by the OMA team's clear commitment to whole-school reform through arts integration and their evident passion for not simply teaching the arts, but rather integrating the arts into all classes so that students can connect to what they are learning and connect to each other across cultures.

"We were transported back in time to the moments when great teachers inspired us to love learning," Pitofsky added.

ACF and Helios sought nominations from a field of nonprofit organizations, funders and businesses. Their request specifically called for innovative education reform programs already in Arizona and those from other states considering expansion to Arizona. Nominations were evaluated by a panel of recognized authorities that included representative voices of teachers, principals, superintendents and school board members, as well as representatives from Wells Fargo, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

True start-up efforts were not encouraged for nomination, but consideration was given to expansion of an organization's proven, successful model if front-end investment had already been made and the applicant could demonstrate relevant experience to date. Although no out-of-state organization received a grant this year, organizations with an interest in Arizona will be considered again during next year's process.

The process used for selecting grant recipients from the Accio Fund has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national model for identifying and supporting innovative reform organizations.

The Accio grants are paid over a three-year period in annual installments and include intense staff engagement and technical and strategic assistance provided by Helios and ACF.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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