The Dodge Foundation is interested in systemic change in education. Our goals, guidelines, and strategies have focused on ensuring that every child in New Jersey receives a sequential and varied arts education, with a priority focus on serving students and teachers in designated historically under-resourced Abbott school districts and where districts are not meeting the state arts education requirements.
We believe in the transformative power of arts education to substantially improve children’s lives and academic outcomes, and prepare them for 21st century careers. We invest in Pre-K through 12th grade sequential arts education and arts-integration efforts that ensure children have the opportunity to receive comprehensive arts training and to experience the benefits of a more dynamic, arts-infused curriculum. Implemented with fidelity over time, the arts can improve the culture of a struggling school, ignite principal and teacher creativity, and foster more joyful and learning-friendly classrooms.
Through arts education, students develop the creative, collaborative and problem-solving skills, as well as the discipline, necessary to thrive in today’s demanding and rapidly evolving workforce. It is equally important to the long-term cultural and economic vitality of our state that all students are exposed to the arts, as they will become our future artists, creative sector employees, audience members, and arts advocates.
As part of the implementation of Dodge’s new vision, we developed an equity theory of change for the Education program. The theory of change addresses the reality that the education system in the United States, and therefore New Jersey, is historically and structurally based on white norms and expectations built on perceptions that students of color will be more successful if assimilated into white mainstream educational culture. This systemic practice is challenged by many education critics as detrimental to the learning of students of color because they must choose daily as they enter the school doors between education success and their identity.
Our new education grantmaking goals are aimed at addressing these structural and historical cultural barriers, examining how school leaders and teachers can advance equity in their schools, and how arts-based, culturally responsive education and teaching practices can improve school culture, teacher preparation, and student learning. We will do this by adding an overarching Culturally Responsive Arts Education instructional lens to all of our current education strategies. We believe a Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) mindset will increase resilience and achievement by employing arts education in ways that take advantage of cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of students of color and, in doing so, not ask students to choose between their identity and school success.
Education Theory of Change
If we embed a new Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) lens and approach to all our current strategies, build a larger teaching force of color and a stronger people of color-led arts education nonprofit sector, and partner only with those organizations and districts already committed to change and equity work,
Then we will create more culturally responsive and effective arts education policies and practices, and teachers better prepared to provide students of color with greater agency and voice in their learning so that they can achieve improved academic and social outcomes and discover, imagine, and pursue a future and career of their dreams.
2020 Education Grantmaking
This theory of change guides new grantmaking in 2020 and over the next three years while we continue to review and adapt our current guidelines and processes to meet our equity goals.
In 2020, Dodge is not accepting letters of inquiry or unsolicited proposals, although program staff may invite new proposals in alignment with new strategies. Current grantees may reapply for funding this year under existing guidelines below.
We believe a multi-pronged strategy is needed to fulfill the promises of a comprehensive arts education agenda. Strong policies, nonprofit arts organizations and program models, as well as creative principals and teachers are essential. We will continue our current prioritization on arts education, arts integration, and teacher and leadership education but with a new emphasis on employing an equity and culturally responsive, relevant, and sustaining education lens.
To that end the Dodge Foundation provides general operating and program support to nonprofit organizations for:
- Systems-level efforts focused on ensuring that all New Jersey children, no matter their zip code, receive a sequential and quality arts education as mandated by New Jersey state standards, and help advance culturally relevant, responsive and sustaining practices.
- Pre-Service training programs that have a history of working to increase the diversity of the superintendent, principal, and art teacher workforce and emphasize the employment of culturally responsive approaches.
- Support culturally responsive professional development training for practicing superintendents, principals, teachers, and teaching artists in order to develop skills and practices that create more equitable district and school cultures with a priority focus on programs that embrace arts education and creative teaching strategies.
- Support model programs that ensure students of color have access to and participate in music, visual arts, dance, and theatre, and advance districts’ arts education and arts integration plans with an increased emphasis on culturally responsive practices.