(SAN ANTONIO, TX, May 13, 2016) – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $15,000 for the KIDS (Kids Initiating Design Solutions) program at the Southwest School of Art. The initiative is a design education project for elementary and middle school students from underserved communities. Students receive instruction in urban design, green design, and community development. The program incorporates hands-on design projects, field trips to architectural sites and offices, and a public exhibition of student work. Teaching teams include teaching artists, licensed architects, engineers, classroom educators, and university architecture students. KIDS is now in its eighth consecutive year, and is a part of the SSA's Young Artist Programs, the most comprehensive visual arts education program for primarily low-income children and teens in San Antonio.
SSA President Paula Owen noted, “We believe this program to be one of the only architectural design programs for elementary school children in the nation. That it focuses on the built environment, urban planning, and center city issues sensitizes students from a very early age and will affect them for their entire lives.” Added Torrey Stanley Carleton, Executive Director of AIA San Antonio, “AIA San Antonio is a proud partner with the Southwest School of Art in the KIDS program. This visionary program enriches traditional curriculum offerings for needy elementary and middle school children who might not ever be exposed to sustainability, architecture and city planning. What is so exciting is that the SSA is doing that with architects, city planners and other design professionals – now that is a real game changer educationally.” Michael Imbimbo, an architect who teaches in the program, noted "KIDS is the best program to help our children discover their own creative abilities, to learn to solve problems for themselves, in their own, unique, creative way. Kids who take KIDS become excited about learning, because they discover that the more they learn, the more powerful they become."
The KIDS program was started with an NEA grant in 2007, so this is the second NEA grant for this unique program. The funds will be used to support the expansion of the program over 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, with a new sequential curriculum that will offer classes to children in grades three, four, five and six. The program has also been supported over the years by the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Shield-Ayres Foundation, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Faye L. and William L. Cowden Charitable Foundation, the Dan and Gloria Oppenheimer Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, the AIA San Antonio, the Architecture Foundation of San Antonio, and the Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation.