The Arts Justice Initiative is an interconnected, 3-pronged approach building educational equity in Oakland.
AOK’s Annual OUSD Arts Education Survey
AOK’s annual survey identifies precisely what arts education each OUSD student is receiving. The Survey pinpoints inequities, informs AOK’s funding priorities, and assists our colleagues in directing their efforts to reach every student. The survey also acts as a monitor of the progress of the Arts Justice Initiative in reaching educational equity in Oakland.
Rapid Response Fund (RRF)
The RRF is designed to provide grants that quickly address any identified gaps in baseline arts education offerings. Using data from our annual OUSD Arts Education Survey, AOK identifies schools where there are students receiving no arts education. These gaps often occur in the final weeks before school starts. The RRF is designed to fill those last-minute gaps by connecting well-established arts education providers (AOK’s Arts Partners) to leadership at the target schools, and then providing RRF funding to the arts provider for immediate, weekly arts education classes that reach every student. The goal of the Rapid Response Fund is to ensure that no student goes a single week without arts education.
AOK’s primary grant, the Landis Grants, build equity through stability of funding and growing the number of offerings per week within each school. Named after AOK’s founder Sally Landis, Landis Grants are chosen each spring for the following school year. Landis Grants are for hands-on arts education in Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD’s) most under-resourced schools. Arts organizations, independent teaching artists, and classroom teachers are all eligible. These grants have a range of up to $10,000 in FYE22, and AOK is working to increase the range in the coming years.
The Need in Oakland
During the budget crisis in the 1990s, most arts education funding was eliminated at federal, state, and local levels. Access to arts education became tied to wealth and race, creating a two-tiered public education. White students are only 10% of the OUSD population and predominantly attend only 20% of the OUSD schools. Due to their disproportionate access to wealth that results in well-funded PTAs, White students are 60% of the population that receives in-school arts education three or more times per week in multiple art forms. Roughly 39,000 students per year attend the other 80% of OUSD schools—98% are students of color. Arts education in Oakland is a social justice issue.
Together, AOK’s Arts Justice Initiative is working to:
- Ensure that no student goes a single week without baseline access to arts education (one arts education class per week, for a minimum of 16 weeks per semester)
- Every student in Oakland’s financially oppressed public schools receives an equitable arts education of 3-5 classes per week in 2 or more art forms.