2022 Grants Challenge

Arts-based Academic Support for Neurodiverse Students

Everyday Arts supports the academic and social-emotional growth of special education students by transforming their classrooms into creative, inclusive, and joyful learning environments. Through a series of artist residencies in local elementary schools, we will facilitate visual and performing arts activities proven to improve academic performance and social skills for neurodiverse students, as well as give families accessible arts strategies to implement at home.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

East LA

San Fernando Valley

West LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Everyday Arts is an equity-focused organization that believes all young people deserve access to arts education, for its intrinsic value as well as its ability to improve social-emotional learning and academic growth. Unfortunately, many neurodiverse students are often left out from arts instruction, especially since the beginning of the pandemic, for myriad reasons; including: physical needs that cannot be met through remote learning; medical conditions that impact mask-wearing and the ability to social distance; high costs of support services; technological barriers; lack of arts training for special education teachers; lack of special education training for arts instructors, and more. This creates compounding problems, further putting special education students at disadvantages in social-emotional learning, arts proficiency, and academic growth. It is here that our developed curriculum and research-based strategies can bridge the gaps and set students up for long term success.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

“Arts-based Academic Support for Neurodiverse Students” is a multi-disciplinary arts initiative aimed to support students with disabilities through educator-staff professional development, direct classroom instruction and coaching, and family workshops. Everyday Arts’ educational impact draws on our extensive history working within special education programs to immediately reach the most high-needs students as well as build a sustainable foundation for long term learning. We will expand on current programming by establishing 4 new “Learning Sites,” each of which will host its own series, including: 3 Professional Development workshops for educators, behavioral interventionists, and vocational staff 8 Individualized coaching sessions per classroom 2 Community-building family events where youth and their caregivers can participate in accessible artmaking together We utilize dance, movement, music, and visual arts teaching strategies that have been proven to improve academic performance and social skills. Our California Common Core standards-aligned methodology is based on the Universal Design for Learning principles, as well as the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning “Core SEL Competencies.” Our curriculum is adaptable for a wide range of populations, having served students within various school-vocational settings across the Autism spectrum, intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, and learning disabilities backgrounds.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Everyday Arts envisions a world where all students, including those with diverse learning needs, have access to the high-quality arts instruction they deserve. Inclusive arts experiences from a young age help students develop their social-emotional competencies, which in turn leads to academic success and personal flourishing. Students with such arts-education access and curriculum are supported in graduating from high school and are able to bring their full lived experiences and contribute to society in ways we can only dream of. To reach these goals, “arts learning” cannot be sequestered to once-a-week lessons; Adapted Arts-education must be fully integrated into students’ school and home life. In addition to helping students succeed, our strategies alleviate stress for educators and parents by infusing joy and creativity into their daily lives. “Arts-based Academic Support for Neurodiverse Students” will improve the lives of countless LA families, schools, and communities.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our methodology has been proven by independent research to increase student motivation, attention span, self-confidence, and communication skills, which serve as the foundation for all learning; self-confident, motivated students who are able to communicate clearly and stay on task can more easily reach academic goals across all curricular areas - we’ve observed progress in math, literacy, arts, and social-emotional learning. As we track student growth, our success is also measured by how many educators participate, and how frequently they are able to implement our strategies in their classrooms. We administer surveys which track teachers’ comfort leading arts activities, frequency with which they integrate arts, ability to integrate social-emotional learning, and student engagement levels. Participants during the 2020-21 school year reported significant increases in all areas, with exponential impact - in 2021, we trained 185 teachers, who in turn represented 3434 students.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 280

Indirect Impact: 3,000