Since its creation in 1998, the Center for Community Arts Partnership has dedicated its services to Chicago youths The Columbia program, which was nationally recognized by people like Michelle Obama, has most recently been acknowledged by the Kresge Foundation.
The Michigan-based foundation awarded the program a $400,000 grant at the beginning of this year to continue its vision of bringing art to young people.
“[The Kresge Foundation] made a range of grants for colleges and universities with arts community partnerships, like CCAP, to see what the role of higher education can be in creating arts and culture infrastructures,” said JeeYeun Lee, development director of CCAP.
The Kresge Foundation had, up until recently, been known for providing capital grants to help nonprofits and institutions, according to Lee. The foundation gave grants to Chicago youth programs, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Chicago Park District.
It also recently began providing grants to fund a new initiative around arts and culture. With this new funding, organizations such as the Joffrey Ballet, 10 E. Randolph St., and the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., have benefited.
Urban Missions was CCAP’s pilot program, which the Kresge Foundation grant will primarily fund. The main initiative of Urban Missions is to partner Columbia faculty and students with community-based arts projects, said Paul Teruel, director of community partnerships for CCAP. It is here Columbia students and faculty work with the youth in Chicago neighborhoods to help creative development grow.
According to Lee, CCAP receives more than two-thirds of its budget from government grants, and foundations and corporations. However, she said what makes the Kresge Foundation grant so significant is the program had not received a large grant in a while.
CCAP began with a number of large grants from national funders but that hasn’t been the case for some time. No projects have been decided yet, according to Teruel, because the grant money is in a state of evaluation.
“Right now we’re beginning to solidify our evaluation process,” Teruel said. “So we want to set up how we are going to administer the funds and then evaluate the programs.”
The initiative works with approximately 30 community-based arts projects around the Chicagoland area, Teruel said. Some are very familiar to the Columbia campus, including Young Chicago Authors and Louder Than a Bomb theater slam group.
“They’re working with youth developing and learning what it means to be a teaching artist,” Teruel said.
Archi-treasures, a community-based development organization, is one of the programs that has worked with CCAP’s Urban Missions. Through the Columbia course titled “Writing for Managers,”students explored using what they learned in the class in an actual community environment working with Archi-treasures.
“We’ve partnered with a Columbia class and worked with the students on service learning projects,” said Joyce Fernandes, executive director of Archi-Treasures.
CCAP will use the grant money to fund more of these projects. According to Teruel, the grant will open some opportunities for the program. Teruel said Urban Missions has not been able to do many community-based initiatives, where the they focus on programs in the neighborhoods.
“This will allow us to hire some students to work in the community,” Teruel said.
The opportunities the grant creates will continue to help the Urban Missions program create deep roots in the youth communities of Chicago, according to Teruel.
“It will really provide a lot of edifice to strengthen and grow the Urban Missions program,” Lee said.