By Emma Castleberry
ArtSpace, a tuition-free, public charter school in Swannanoa, is one of 34 schools in North Carolina to be awarded an ACCESS grant. The ACCESS (Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success) program is funded with grants from the US Department of Education and the funds are intended for new and existing high-quality charter schools to better meet the needs of traditionally underserved students. “Our mission and vision is based in using arts integration as a vehicle for holistic student learning,” says Sarena Fuller, executive director of ArtSpace.
A 2016 report from the National Endowment for the Arts showed that arts education often closes, and sometimes eliminates, the achievement gap noted from a socioeconomic perspective. This report showed that in almost every category, a student from a low-socioeconomic background with a high-arts educational experience significantly outperformed peers from a low-arts, low-socioeconomic background. “Our approach to education is uniquely effective for students across achievement, demographic and socioeconomic groups,” says Fuller.
Grant funds will be used to enhance ArtSpace’s program offerings and reduce the barriers to student access, one of which is transportation. ArtSpace will use some of the funds to buy a full-size bus and, over the five-year period of the grant, establish “cluster” stop transportation routes to improve access. Later in the year, ArtSpace will be expanding its physical campus with a new arts building on the property and also renovating the main building. The main building renovations will include the addition of a kitchen space and ArtSpace will use grant funds to develop a nutrition program.
“When looking at successful charter programs who have demonstrated success over time and positive impact to student learning,” says Fuller, “ArtSpace emerges as such a program worthy of investment, so that our mission becomes more accessible for learners.”
For more information, visit ArtSpaceCharter.org.