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Arts Connect All:
A Funding Opportunity for Inclusive Educational Programs of Arts Organizations

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Access to the arts is achieved when all people have equal opportunity to attend, participate in, and learn through arts experiences. VSA and MetLife Foundation have designed the Arts Connect All funding opportunity to encourage arts organizations to create or enhance multi-session, inclusive education programs by strengthening partnerships with local public schools.

The goals of Arts Connect All are to:

  • Enable more students with disabilities to experience social, cognitive, and cultural development through arts learning alongside their peers without disabilities;
  • Create educational access and inclusion in the arts for students with disabilities; and
  • Document the contributions that arts organizations make to inclusive education in public schools.

View the Arts Connect All awardees from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.


Inclusive Arts Education Programs

Inclusive programs are those which have students with and without disabilities interacting in activities together to create awareness, understanding, and respect. To create inclusive learning environments, accessible education programs engage students with and without disabilities by incorporating multi-modal approaches and accommodating a range of abilities, learning styles, and skills.

VSA and MetLife Foundation invite proposals from arts organizations creating or enhancing inclusive educational programs that undertake all of the following:

  • Incorporate inclusive teaching practices;
  • Provide access to students with all types of disabilities;
  • Develop social, cognitive, and artistic skills;
  • Involve people with disabilities in planning and implementation;
  • Build staff, teacher, and/or artist knowledge and skill of inclusive practices; and
  • Collaborate with public schools, actively engaging students, parents, and school administrators.


Nonprofit 501(c)(3) performing and/or exhibiting arts organizations—including museums, theaters, and multidisciplinary arts presenters—that are creating or have an established educational program are eligible to apply. Organizations must have as their primary mission the goal of advancing the arts and/or a specific art form.

Only arts organizations located in and partnering with public schools in the following metropolitan areas are eligible:

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Houston, Texas
  • Seattle, Washington

Applying organizations:

  • Must meet minimum physical access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and actively inform the public about accessibility services;
  • Must agree to acknowledge VSA and MetLife Foundation as sponsors in printed materials;
  • Must be able to host an evaluation site visit and report on program activity impact; and
  • Must submit a courtesy copy of the application narrative to their state VSA affiliate. Although it is not a requirement for eligibility, organizations are strongly encouraged to contact and/or collaborate with their state VSA affiliates. VSA affiliates are not eligible to submit proposals for Arts Connect All, but may be included as a partner on a program being considered for funding.

Eligible programs (existing or newly developed):

  • Must have students with disabilities and without disabilities learning together at the same time and place;
  • Must involve kindergarten–grade 12 public school students in the target audience;
  • Must be ongoing or have multiple sessions;
  • May take place during school hours or after school; and
  • May receive awards in a maximum of three (3) grant cycles. Second- and third-year grants must expand or enhance programs funded in a previous cycle.

Programs ineligible to submit proposals:

  • Individuals;
  • Schools, universities, performing arts or visual arts departments of universities, and foundations raising funds for schools or universities;
  • Arts and/or arts education programs of disability organizations and of non-presenting/non-exhibiting arts education organizations;
  • Programs that have received Arts Connect All grants in three (3) previous grant cycles; or
  • VSA affiliates.

Award Amount

A maximum of 10 awards of up to $15,000 will be given to selected organizations. Funds must be used for program activities between April 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. Examples of appropriate use of funds may include, but are not limited to: expanding existing accessibility programs into educational efforts, program development support, knowledge and skill building of inclusive practices, and promotional/outreach efforts to expand audience.


Selection Criteria

Entries will be reviewed and evaluated by an independent panel of professionals with and without disabilities who work in accessible arts programming, arts education, and/or inclusive education.

Grant recipients will be selected based on their ability to:

  • Identify, assess, and address constituent and community need;
  • Collaborate at a high level with public schools;
  • Model innovative and multi-modal approaches for inclusion of people with disabilities in integrated settings;
  • Involve people with disabilities in the planning and implementation of educational programming;
  • Increase access to program activities, content, and materials by everyone, including students with all types of disabilities and students without disabilities;
  • Implement evaluation strategies that investigate the relationship between program goals, program activities, and the development of participant social, cognitive, and artistic skills; and
  • Deliver the program as articulated in the application packet, including evidence of prior commitment to access, appropriate staffing, accuracy of program budget, and evidence of matching funds.

Decisions of the panel are final and confidential. Grant recipients will be announced via press release, on the VSA Web site, and in the VSA newsletter. All entrants will receive written notification before March 25, 2011.


Submitting an Entry

Complete application packets must be received by VSA before the close of business Friday, November 19, 2010. Materials received after this date will not be considered. An e-mail from will be sent within 48 hours confirming receipt of application packet.

Submit by e-mail the following information:

  • Completed and signed entry form;
  • Official documentation of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status;
  • Narrative of up to six (6) pages. Please identify narrative sections with numbering that corresponds with the outline format used below. Use 12-point Arial or Helvetica font, single spacing, and ragged right margins on a standard 8.5" x 11" page (do not send pamphlets or brochures); and
  • Project budget.

Send a courtesy copy of the narrative with attachments to the VSA affiliate in your state. (Applicants from Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, and Oregon should contact VSA. Courseycopies not needed for California applicants).


Narrative Requirements

Please identify narrative sections with numbering that corresponds with the outline format used below.

  1. Organization Description—Describe your organization, including:
    1. Year of incorporation;
    2. Mission statement;
    3. Constituents (include demographics);
    4. History of commitment to access and inclusion;
    5. Types of programs and services offered (include presenting and/or exhibiting aspects of work not related to educational programming);
    6. Total number of staff (full-time, part-time); and
    7. Annual budget (as approved by board of directors).
  2. Educational Program Description—Describe the proposed multi-session program, how it will operate, and how it is inclusive:
    1. New or current program title and purpose with proposed enhancements (if applicable);
      Previous Arts Connect All Grant Recipients: Organizations from previous grant cycles reapplying for funding of a particular program must include a description of lessons learned during the previous year and how these will impact program expansion or enhancement;
    2. Evidence of constituent and community need (identification of need and plan to assess and address the need);
    3. Target population to be served and detailed description of inclusion (program must have students with and without disabilities learning together in the same place at the same time on an ongoing basis);
    4. Collaborative relationship with kindergarten–grade 12 public schools (specific roles/responsibilities, number of schools, and types of schools);
    5. Involvement of people with disabilities in planning and implementation (in addition to the target audience);
    6. Knowledge and skill building of inclusive practices for staff, teachers, and artists working on the program (for information on technical assistance in this area, applicants are encouraged to contact their state VSA affiliates);
    7. Program activities (multiple sessions with the same participants, building upon themes and/or skills), activity timeline, and location(s); and
    8. Specific community outreach plans.
  3. Alternative Formats and Multi-Modal Approaches—Describe the various ways that will ensure participants access to the program content and its materials including:
    1. Innovative and multi-modal approaches for inclusion of diverse learners, including students with all types of disabilities (e.g., physical, sensory, developmental, learning, and emotional); and
    2. Programming that actively involves and engages people with and without disabilities in integrated settings.
  4. Evaluation—Describe the program evaluation plan, including:
    1. All program goals and activities as they relate to the development of participant social, cognitive, and artistic skills;
    2. Functional, measurable indicators of success for each program goal and objective;
    3. Methods/means of monitoring and evaluating development of participants’ communication, critical thinking, and artistic skills; and
    4. Methods/means of monitoring and evaluating increased accessibility and inclusiveness of diverse learners.

Budget Requirements

Provide a detailed program budget identifying all income sources and listing expense details. Funding from multiple sources is encouraged.

Appropriate use of funds would include, but would not be limited to:

  • Expanding existing accessibility programs into educational efforts and/or across the organization, including community outreach;
  • Program development support, staffing, and consulting;
  • Knowledge and skill building of inclusive practices for education and support staff; and
  • Promotional and outreach efforts to education and disability service agencies to expand audience.

Formula indirect costs are not allowed.

Questions about Arts Connect All and requests for alternative formats of this publication should be directed to Stephanie Litvak at


Download the Application

Guidlines and Form in PDF
Guidlines and Form in Rich Text Format

Form in PDF
Form in Rich Text Format

Alternative formats available upon request.

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Questions about Arts Connect All and requests for alternative formats of this application should be directed to: