Supporting Creative Youth
The Mass Cultural Council and Creative Youth Development

The Mass Cultural Council works to ensure that all children have access to high-quality, creative learning experiences in school and beyond. The Mass Cultural Council pursues this goal through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy to schools, communities, and nonprofit cultural organizations.

The YouthReach initiative makes grants to cultural organizations and other community groups to support in-depth arts and cultural programs for young people in need. Launched in 1994, YouthReach now supports more than 40 partnerships in communities across Massachusetts. Activities take place outside of the school, after regular school hours, in the summer, or on weekends – in times and places where kids are most in need of constructive activities. YouthReach is a national model, with projects cited for excellence by the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards given by the U.S. President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

SerHacer (To be, To make) is focused on supporting the growing number of intensive, ensemble-based music programs that enable music as a vehicle for youth development and social change. Inspired by the work of El Sistema, the initiative brings together public schools, private schools, charter schools, community music schools, conservatories, orchestras, community organizations, universities and social service organizations, to work together to expand access to social and artistic music-making opportunities for the 193,000 children living in poverty and countless more without access to the arts in the Commonwealth. Through technical assistance, grants, and convenings, SerHacer is focused on working with partners around the Commonwealth to support the conversation around music making that measures success not only in ticket sales, but in children and communities as well.

Amplify grants provide support for projects designed and executed by young people in programs currently supported by Mass Cultural Council’s Youthreach and SerHacer programs.  The grants will support the creation of work by young people in the arts, sciences, or humanities that demonstrates the capacity they have to be a visible and audible part of developing safe and thriving communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Mass Cultural Council provides STARS Residencies grants of $500-$5,000 to schools to support residencies of 3 days or more with teaching artists, scientists, scholars, and cultural organizations. Any Massachusetts school (public, charter, parochial, or independent) serving grades K-12 is eligible to apply.

In addition, Mass Cultural Council's Cultural Investment Portfolio sustains many high-quality education activities that nurture creativity. Grantee organizations provide extraordinary learning experiences for young people, and many of them use Mass Cultural Council grants specifically for their K-12 activities, which typically are not self-supporting.

Mass Cultural Council also supports arts education through its network of 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) across Massachusetts. Nearly half of the $2.34 million in LCC grants benefit arts education.

Big Yellow School Bus provides $200 grants to help schools meet the transportation costs of educational field trips to cultural institutions and activities in Massachusetts. More than 200,000 students have experienced museums, performances, historic sites and many other enriching destinations as a result of these grants.

Through our creative youth development blog, Seen & Heard, we aim to illuminate the voices and visions of these young people, and to encourage and provoke the dedicated youth development practitioners who shape and deliver these vital programs across our state and across the nation.

With funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Mass Cultural Council offers Poetry Out Loud, a national competition in which high school students memorize and perform real poems and to explore the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken work, and theatre in their English and Drama classes. The program is run in Massachusetts by the Huntington Theatre Co. and last year engaged more than 8,000 students.

Policy and Advocacy
The Mass Cultural Council has always taken an active role in shaping arts education policy. Mass Cultural Council was integrally involved in developing the state's arts curriculum frameworks in 1999. Today, we promote state and local policies that encourage schools, districts, and communities to make deeper investments in arts education.

Mass Cultural Council participates on advisory committees to the Commissioner of Education in arts and early childhood education, and is part of the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership, a statewide effort to expand after-school programs. We collaborate with Arts|Learning to promote the value of arts education. Every two years Mass Cultural Council presents the prestigious Commonwealth Award in Education to leaders and innovators in this field. And we provide public information on the state of the arts in Massachusetts' schools and important current research on the effects of arts education.

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© Mass Cultural Council 2018