Arts Corps 


Arts Corps is a leading nonprofit arts education organization as well as a movement of youth and adult artists committed to justice, collaboration and inspiration.

Arts Corps directly addresses a critical opportunity gap in a region where race is the greatest determining factor in access to arts education. Through Arts Corps, young people develop their creative capacities in imagination, critical thinking and discipline. Trends show that Arts Corps students’ also attend school more often and test better in reading and math.

Mission Statement
Arts Corps unlocks the creative power of youth through arts education and community collaboration.
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Arts Corps
4408 Delridge Way SW Ste 110 
(206) 722-5440 

Ms. Elizabeth Whitford 
Executive Director 


Arts Corps Programs

The Elementary Arts Education Program provides in-school residencies with classroom teachers and after-school classes for elementary age students at school sites in Seattle, Burien, and White Center. During in-school residencies, teaching artists work in partnership with a classroom teacher, focusing on culturally-responsive arts integrated learning. For after-school classes, teaching artists provide arts instruction as part of year-long after school programs. This out-of-school setting allows freedom for both the teaching artist and students to engage in fun, creative exploration in project-based or thematic learning.

The Teen Artist Program, which includes the beloved Youth Speaks Seattle poetry program, provides an opportunity for youth to develop leadership and creative thinking skills they need to meet the challenges of adulthood and employment in today’s creative economy. Students receive after-school arts instruction in the areas of music, poetry, and dance with select students developing their leadership skills through hands-on organizing of student outreach, performance, and event management.

The Creative Schools Initiative is an intensive middle school arts integration program where teaching artists collaborate with teachers throughout the year to improve  learning and foster students’ academic engagement, critical thinking, creativity, and persistence. Classroom teachers and teaching artists  design culturally relevant, arts-integrated units that teach to academic standards and optimize student engagement. Teaching artists spend 20-hours per week building a rich learning environment with lessons rooted in student inquiry and project-based approaches.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

In 2012, Arts Corps was awarded the highest national honor in community based arts education by the White House, The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

In Seattle, schools are being stripped of arts learning opportunities, especially schools serving children of color and low-income communities. In fact, a recent report from Seattle Public Schools shows that race is the greatest predictor of access to school day arts education within the district. In 2011-2012, the odds of African American, Latino and American Indian/Alaskan Native students being enrolled in an arts class are significantly lower – as much as 33 percent lower – than their white counterparts.  

Further, this same study shows a substantial drop in arts education participation in middle school, and no school-wide daily or weekly arts integration activity occurring in Seattle middle schools.

Arts Corps directly addresses this critical opportunity gap bringing powerful arts learning to young people. Arts Corps classes are provide youth opportunities to grow their creativity, take risks, imagine possibilities and persist through challenges – skills linked to achievement in school and in life.


Arts Corps believes that arts education is an important means for young people to develop their creative talents and individual interests. As access to arts education in public schools declines, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color, Arts Corps steps in and offers classes, currently working in 40 sites (including schools, community centers, low-income housing sites and residential treatment centers) around the region.

Use of Best Practices
Arts Corps offers classes based on the schools’ needs, from after-school programs to in-school workshops and residencies. They conduct a rigorous evaluation (including interviews, focus groups and surveys) of the organization each year, in an effort to strengthen the quality and aims of its programs.

They employ excellent teaching artists and utilize veteran teaching artists to mentor and support new faculty. Their teaching artists receive ongoing professional development and training, as well as peer support through cohort networks.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
Arts Corps focuses on youth with the least access to arts learning opportunities, particularly children in low-income neighborhoods and youth of color. They offer highly subsidized rates to the highest need schools. Last year, two-thirds of their partner sites served a majority of youth who qualified for free- and reduced-price lunch, and 78 percent of the students were youth of color. They work to have their teaching artists be representative of the youth they are serving, and approach all their programming with an equity and diversity lens.

They partnered with six other youth arts education organizations and developed the Seattle Arts Education Consortium. Goals of the consortium were to improve the quality of each member’s program evaluations and assessments, share best practices in arts education programming, develop and implement professional development for teaching artists and generate consistent messages around research findings and the impact of arts education on young people. Arts Corps is working on developing a formal partnership with Seattle Public Schools, with the hopes of tying learning goals in the arts to overall learning goals for the district.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

8/10/2015 $10,000.00support general operating expenses via GiveTogether: Arts Engagement
11/3/2014 $60,000.00to support the two-year 21st Century Arts Teaching and Assessment Project.
9/10/2012 $12,500.00support general operating expenses.
9/10/2011 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
12/10/2008 $25,000.00support general operating expenses.
10/5/2006 $25,000.00support general operating expenses.


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