Young Audiences Arts for Learning Supports Five Equity-Focused Initiatives Through FY21 Affiliate Development Fund

January 08, 2021 |

Young Audiences Arts for Learning (Young Audiences) has awarded five Affiliate Development Fund (ADF) grants for FY21 to support initiatives across the national Young Audiences Arts for Learning network (YA Network) that address issues of racial justice impacting historically marginalized communities.  

Each year, the ADF supports innovative projects and initiatives that advance the organizational development of individual affiliates and build capacity across the YA Network as a whole. As part of Young Audiences’ commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA), this year’s ADF awards are focused specifically on developing racial equity-centered projects.

“At the heart of the ADF grant program is the expectation that the entire YA Network will benefit from the organizational development of each affiliate, which in turn will advance our collective impact on the young people we serve,” said David A. Dik, National Executive Director of Young Audiences Arts for Learning. “We are excited to move forward on this journey toward greater equity as a network.”

We commend the winning organizations for their leadership, vision, and commitment to this important work. Read below for details on each ADF-funded project.


Arts Education Collaborative - Pittsburgh, PA
Applying a Culturally Responsive SEL Lens to Arts Education

Arts Education Collaborative’s (AEC) ADF award will support the organization’s efforts to revise their school district self-assessment program through a Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE)/Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lens. Scholars have proposed combining SEL with culturally responsive practices to increase the likelihood that diverse students are fully seen, teachers acknowledge a range of readiness to learn behaviors, and all students can navigate a complex world full of different people and cultures. As part of this project, the organization plans to increase AEC staff capacity in CRAE/SEL, authentically integrate culturally responsive practices, and apply this framework to redesign a school district program.


Think360 Arts for Learning - Denver, CO
Abolitionist Teaching Training for Teaching Artists

Support from the ADF will help expand Think 360 Arts for Learning’s (Think360) equity work by providing teaching artists serving Title 1 schools with training in abolitionist teaching practices. This work will seek to help teaching artists understand the systemic barriers that impact the students they serve and how their work can help to dismantle those barriers. Through these efforts, Think360 will build teaching artists’ understanding of teaching strategies that focus on creating equitable, culturally responsive, and healing-centered environments for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students.


Young Audiences of Houston - Houston, TX
Arts for Learning Lab

ADF support will enable Young Audiences of Houston (YAH) to develop and administer a new curriculum centered on using the arts to prioritize social and racial justice in the classroom for its Arts Learning Lab (ALL) program. ALL is a training program that offers a pathway for artists to enter the arts in education field and professional development for educators seeking to implement arts-integrated teaching methods. With ADF support, YAH will provide seminars to ALL participants on racial justice in schools and community settings, and incorporate antiracist goals into the ALL curriculum, classroom residencies, and evaluation process for certification.


Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania - Princeton, NJ
Antiracism Programming Initiative

Funding through the ADF will support the creation of professional learning and community-based programs for Young Audiences of New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania’s (YANJEP) Antiracism Programming Initiative, a consultant-guided model for teaching artists, educators, and affiliates to critically analyze and address racism in and through the arts. The initiative takes a two-pronged approach: 1) professional learning for teaching artists and 2) new interconnected programs targeting school communities. The program follows a social-ecological framework of addressing self, peers, family, and school community, using the unique qualities of the arts to influence learning.


Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington - Portland, OR
Roster Diversification Initiative

Through ADF support, Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington (YAOW) will expand its Roster Diversification Initiative. YAOW will work to hone its recruitment and retention strategies to better serve teaching artists of color. Participating artists will engage in a series of compensated training sessions and will be paired with a seasoned, arts integration-trained mentor teaching artist of color. Additionally, YAOW staff and board will participate in a series of trainings in order to more fully integrate racial justice into their organizational culture. 


About Young Audiences Arts for Learning

Founded in 1952, Young Audiences Arts for Learning (Young Audiences) is the nation’s largest art in education network, serving more than 5 million young people each year. Young Audiences works to support its diverse network of affiliated organizations that are each dedicated to playing a decisive role in young people’s personal, artistic, and educational development. To learn more about Young Audiences and our mission to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts, please visit