Compton's McKinley Elementary Selected to Join National Arts-Fueled Program
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Apr 16, 2018


COMPTON, CA (April 16, 2018) -- Turnaround Arts: California, co-founded in 2014 by renowned architect Frank Gehry and arts education advocate Malissa Shriver to administer the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Turnaround Arts program statewide, will add 10 high-need elementary and middle schools, including Compton Unified School District’s McKinley Elementary School, to its network of now 27 schools across 20 school districts using the arts strategically to support student learning and school improvement efforts. This is the third Turnaround Arts: California partner school in the District, following Martin Luther King Elementary (2014) and Whaley Middle School (2016).

“We are excited to have a third school in the district selected to join the Turnaround Arts network of schools. The arts are of vital importance in improving achievement while engaging the whole student. We are very grateful for the Turnaround Art’s valuable investment in the great students of McKinley Elementary School,” said Dr. Darin Brawley, Superintendent of Compton Unified School District.

“Through our partnership with Turnaround Arts, we will expand our arts program to increase student motivation and narrow the achievement gap by fostering student creativity and artistic skills. We are thankful for the support from Turnaround Arts and are excited that all students at McKinley Elementary will be provided with high quality arts education!” said, Jennifer Kang-Moon, Principal at McKinley.

This program expansion is made possible, in part, by a $1 million gift put forth by Frank Gehry and matched by an anonymous donor.

"Seeing the strength and creativity in our Turnaround Arts: California students gives me hope for our future and fuels my own inspiration.

Over the last forty years, I’ve spent time with kids in the classroom using architecture and art to get them engaged, focus their attention, and even introduce mathematics, civics, and other subjects that they might not have otherwise been receptive to. This inspired me to partner with Malissa Shriver on Turnaround Arts: California in order to create the same opportunities for the California students who need it the most,” said Frank Gehry.

Turnaround Arts: California, which will now reach schools serving over 17,000 K-8 students from historically marginalized communities, has seen promising results in its existing partner schools:

  • English language arts proficiency has increased at 70% of partner schools, by as much as 14%.
  • Math proficiency has increased at more than 50% of partner schools, by as much as 15%.
  • Arts-integrated instruction has increased student engagement, share 90% of surveyed teachers.
  • Attendance is up and suspensions are down at more than 50% of partner schools.
  • Arts-rich events have increased family engagement at 100% of partner schools.

“We have the great privilege of partnering with these new, vibrant school communities across the state in using the arts to help students overcome obstacles and find their authentic voices as creators and scholars. We continue to believe that no achievement gaps exist where opportunity lives," shared Malissa Shriver, President of Turnaround Arts: California.

On program acceptance, the District committed to ensuring that all students in the school will receive weekly, standards-based dance and theater instruction, and that all teachers can attend trainings on how to use the arts to support student learning. Through the Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach Program, P.S. ARTS will provide regular, in-person support for the school team in strategically using the arts for teacher training, family engagement, and student learning.

“We at P.S. ARTS are thrilled for the opportunity to continue working in partnership with Turnaround Arts: California. The infrastructure they have built and advocacy they continue to do has provided a strong foundation from which P.S. ARTS can meaningfully contribute to achieving equity and inclusion in public schools through arts instruction and teacher training," shared Dr. Kristen Paglia, CEO of P.S. ARTS.

Turnaround Arts empowers high-need schools with innovative arts, dance, theater, and music programs, arts integration across subject areas, arts resources, musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors as a proven strategy to help address broader school challenges and turn them around. Now run nationally by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the program started in 2012 as a pilot program in eight schools to test the findings of a President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities report titled Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools. At the start of the 2018 school year, Turnaround Arts will have impacted and be working with more than 56,000 students in 84 schools across 17 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, Turnaround Arts is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and a collaboration of government agencies, nonprofit partners, and generous corporate and private donations.

Initiated with financial support from Berta and Frank Gehry and the California Arts Council, Turnaround Arts: California is supported by the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Eisner Foundation, Facebook, Jane Fonda, the Goldhirsh Foundation, David Hockney, MasterClass, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, Elizabeth Segerstrom, the Segerstrom Family Foundation, and Susan Steinhauser and Daniel Greenberg. Turnaround Arts: California partners regionally across the state with Collaborations: Teachers and Artists (CoTA), Liz Harvey, North Coast Arts Integration Project, Orange County Department of Education, P.S. ARTS, and Sunset Cultural Center to deepen program implementation and impact.

Participating schools were competitively selected by program partners according to national guidelines. Selection criteria included demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership with district support, and a commitment to arts education.


Turnaround Arts: California Media Contact

Jacob Campbell, Program Manager | | 310.482.3133

Compton Unified School District Media Contact

Melissa Franklin, Communications Lead | | 310.946.7805