ArtsBridge America Program Awarded $250,000 Grant for Elementary School Initiative

Lawrence University and its ArtsBridge America program will share in a $250,000 grant from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation to bring an innovative geography-through-music curriculum to Fox Valley elementary schools.

Beginning in February, Lawrence will partner with Appleton’s Edison Elementary School fifth graders to introduce “Mapping the Beat,” a curricular program developed in 2002 by the Artsbridge America program at the University of California, San Diego that combines geography content with culture-based arts instruction.

ArtsBridge scholar Sarah Tochiki, a senior music education major from Aiea, Hawaii, will work with host teachers Katie Lecker and Matt Bronson at Edison to introduce the “Mapping the Beat” curriculum. The National Geographic Foundation grant will allow ArtsBridge to offer “Mapping the Beat” to additional fifth-grade classrooms in the Fox Valley starting in Fall, 2006.

Using music as a common language, “Mapping the Beat” ArtsBridge scholars will lead fifth-grade students on a musical journey through American history. The curriculum will explore migration patterns to the United States and the meaning of music within various communities and ethnic groups.

During the program, students will explore music and geography linked to their social studies curriculum and discover why music from one region sounds differently than that of other regions. The program is designed to raise awareness about the geographic features that determine culture and art forms around the world and create a connection between music and its place of origin.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to introduce the ‘Mapping the Beat’ curriculum to elementary children and their teachers in the Fox Valley,” said Jasmine Yep, national coordinator of the ArtsBridge America program. “‘Mapping the Beat’ was built around three main concepts — environment, identity and movement — which were selected for their parallel significance in the study of music. Past experience with this program has shown that students are truly energized as they create music in the classroom and understand the connection between that music and its place of origin in the world.”

Lawrence is part of a six-campus consortium working with the ArtsBridge America program that will share the National Geographic grant for the “Mapping the Beat” project. Lawrence will receive $30,000 over the next three years to implement the program in the Fox Valley. Sharing the grant with Lawrence is the California State University, Long Beach, Michigan State University, Oklahoma State University, the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Learning Through the Arts at the University of California, Irvine.

Founded in 1996 by current Lawrence President Jill Beck when she was at UC Irvine, ArtsBridge America is a university/community arts education and outreach program featuring a network of 22 universities in 13 states and Northern Ireland and their surrounding schools. The program creates university and K-12 school collaborations by partnering university arts students with a K-12 teacher to introduce interdisciplinary arts instruction through ArtsBridge projects.

Since its inception, ArtsBridge America has delivered arts curriculum to more than 300,000 pupils, professional support for more than 1,500 teachers and scholarship support for nearly 4,000 university arts students. In 1998 ArtsBridge was the recipient of a national dissemination award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and has received several awards for its work with schools and communities.

Lawrence serves as the national headquarters for the 22 university-based ArtsBridge America partners.