George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts gets large donation

07 21, 2014 by The Daily Advertiser

The George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts received a major boost for its Louisiana A+ Schools program thanks to a major gift from Chevron.

The company presented GRFA with a $50,000 donation during a fundraiser held on Thursday night at the home of University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie on the UL campus.

“We’ve been a supporter of the GFRA for many years, and we really believe in the work that they’ve done,” said Leah Brown, Chevron Public Affairs representative. “We believe arts integration really leads to success in education and the workforce beyond education.”

Brown said the money will go to support the Louisiana A+ Schools’ Summer Institute for LA A+ teachers.

Louisiana A+ Schools is a research-based whole school network with a mission of nurturing creativity in every student through an arts-integrated school network. GRFA officials selected the A+ model as a foundation project for Louisiana, citing the success of more than 120 A+ Schools operating across North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The schools follow a curriculum that mixes art in every day instruction.

“They will infuse some type of art in every classroom,” said Jacques Rodrigue, GRFA executive director. “So imagine a classroom where you teach math using some type of music, or you teach history using some type of visual art. That really gets students to engage with the material and understand it more.”

In Louisiana, the nine participating schools are: Epiphany Day School in New Iberia, South Highlands Elementary Magnet in Shreveport, Grace Episcopal School in Monroe, The Dufrocq School in Baton Rouge, Riverside Academy in Reserve, Martin Behrman Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences in New Orleans, Homer A. Plessy Community School in New Orleans, St. Helena Arts & Technology Academy in Greensburg and Homer Elementary School in Homer.

Rodrigue said no Lafayette schools applied to be part of the program the first year it was offered.

“This year, we wanted to focus on our partnership with the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities and participant schools in that program had to be high-poverty and failing schools,” Rodrigue added. “No schools in Lafayette interested in learning more about LA A+ this year met those requirements. However, we have some assurances that Lafayette schools will be applying next year and we are hopeful that they will join us.”

The GRFA was chosen by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities to be program director of Turnaround Arts: Louisiana, an education initiative designed to turn around low-performing schools through arts integration and to boost academic achievement, motivate student learning and improve school culture. Rodrigue said using the principles of its successful Louisiana A+ Schools Program, GRFA will serve three schools in the state in partnership with the Turnaround Arts: Louisiana initiative.

“Over the next two years, we will provide the training and resources necessary to address the specific needs of each school,” Rodrigue said. “We will be working with Alfre Woodard and Trombone Shorty, who will adopt each school for the length of the program, working with the schools and communities to highlight their successes.”

Later this month, the annual Louisiana A+ Schools Summer Institute will be held on the UL campus. The training seminar offers teachers and education professionals, whose schools are part of program, an entire week on arts-integration and A+ methods in order to impact thousands of Louisiana students.