25th Anniversary Endowment Challenge Brings P.S. ARTS Funding from Herb Alpert Foundation to $5 Million

For Immediate Release

25th Anniversary Endowment Challenge Brings P.S. ARTS Funding from Herb Alpert Foundation to $5 Million

Santa Monica, CA (July 1, 2015) – The Herb Alpert Foundation announces a $1 million dollar matching challenge to establish an endowment for the Los Angeles-based arts education nonprofit, P.S. ARTS.

P.S. ARTS, the 2014 recipient of the Americans for the Arts National Arts Education award, has been providing arts education to children attending underserved public schools in California for 25 years.

Rona Sebastian, President of The Herb Alpert Foundation, remarks, “It is gratifying to see this unique program thriving in Los Angeles, becoming a model for other schools and bringing well-deserved attention to P.S. ARTS. We are delighted that this significant program helps students celebrate their differences and encourages them to become good citizens of the world.”

The Herb Alpert Foundation has issued P.S. ARTS a $1 million dollar challenge grant to establish the organization’s first endowment. This gift brings The Foundation’s investment in P.S. ARTS to $5 million, and will ensure that the organization can thrive for future generations.

Renowned educator Dr. Paul Cummins founded P.S. ARTS in 1990 with initial funding from The Herb Alpert Foundation in response to state education budget cuts. P.S. ARTS started with 250 children in one elementary school, and now, after 25 years, provides arts education to over 25,000 students. The organization’s dramatic growth is a reflection of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s vision and strategic investment in what Foundation President Rona Sebastian describes as, “one of the nation’s premiere, ground-breaking arts instruction programs.”

“Over the past 25 years,” says Herb Alpert, “through our support of P.S. ARTS, Lani and I have watched a generation of students thrive on in-school arts exploration and training. We have witnessed how the arts have helped students be creative, experience their own uniqueness, and appreciate the uniqueness in others, stay focused and reach for their potential so that they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. We are proud of our support of P.S. ARTS, and wish them continued success.”

The Herb Alpert Foundation has supported P.S. ARTS’ growth over time, with the goal of long-term sustainability. In 2004, The Foundation made a $1.5 million grant to P.S. ARTS, funding an innovative five-year arts education initiative in the Lawndale Elementary School District for 5,000 students. The grant was designed to provide comprehensive support at the outset and decrease over time as P.S. ARTS education programs developed in the schools.

The Foundation has continued to award up to $200K annually, supporting the region-wide arts education effort led by P.S. ARTS, whose TakePART Initiative in five school districts currently provides 10,000 children with weekly arts education. At the annual TakePART Art Festival 2013 the Initiative received commendations from U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

For more information on P.S. ARTS and The Herb Alpert Foundation’s $1 million endowment matching opportunity, please visit www.psarts.org/endowment

About P.S. ARTS 
P.S. ARTS’ mission is to improve the lives of children by providing arts education to underserved public schools and communities. It is the only organization in Southern and Central California that provides yearlong art education in dance, visual arts, music, and theater to every child in a school during the regular school day.

About The Herb Alpert Foundation 
The Herb Alpert Foundation, a non-profit, private foundation established in the early 1980′s, makes significant annual contributions to a range of programs in the fields of Arts, Arts Education and Compassion and Well Being. Its funding is directed toward projects in which Herb and Lani Alpert and Foundation President Rona Sebastian play an active role. [The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.]

For additional information and press inquiries, please email Jacob Campbell: jacob.campbell@psarts.org

The Alumni Mentor Film Project: Untitled

Lora Cawelti, Program Coordinator


For the past eight years, the brightest spot of my career has been my work co-leading the Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) Alumni Mentor Program. As Mentor Program Coordinators, Patty Duran and I work each year to bring exciting and challenging opportunities to this group of young leaders. Mentors meet monthly to develop skills including interviewing and goal setting. They participate in service learning as they mentor middle school participants in P.S. ARTS’ IOCA program. Mentors attend local cultural events, plays, and museums and continue developing their artistic skills as they create original performances.

This was a fantastic year for the IOCA Mentors as they got to work with a guest artist Writer/Director Susanna Fogel to create an original student film. Mentor Jose Medrano explains:

Every year in the mentor program we always get to take part in new experiences and learn new things about ourselves. This year we got to test our creativity with a really intense art form. We always build stories, but this one was such a complex concept. It’s nice knowing mentors can really just take any challenge and make it work out.

The process began in January, when Astrid Bartolo, a college-aged Mentor, came to help the teens choose the topic for their performance piece. I was excited that Astrid was ready to step into an adult leadership role; I love seeing the Mentors grow! Of the process and her new role, Astrid noted:

It was great having an Artist Leader Role because I was able to use the skills I have learned over the course of being a Mentor/Youth Artist Leader since 2009. I don’t think I would have felt as confident as I did if it weren’t for the supportive and empowering environment that my IOCA family has provided me over the years.


With Astrid’s guidance, the Mentors chose the topic of identity, specifically in the areas of race, culture, religion, gender, and sexuality. It was an intense process where the teens shared their own personal experiences with one another. They decided it was important to show their audience how difficult it is to figure out who you are while others challenge your beliefs and values. From hearing others tell their stories, Mentor Mario Bartolo pointed out:

It made me realize that most kids don’t really know [how to define their identity] and going through that process itself can be a complex thing, especially when you don’t have people who support you through it.

When Susanna Fogel began the writing process in February, she worked with the Mentors to translate their feelings and experiences into a story for the film. Three Mentors, Paulina Vidanez, Sally Hy, and Yuliza Parra, applied to be Head Writers on the project and devoted extra time to fleshing out the group’s ideas.  Sally explains:

It fascinates me how a simple idea can become so much more. It all started in a room where each of us would share a story that we felt needed to be heard. Being able to share our stories, the ones we shared the first day of brainstorming, and have characters who were relatable was something I had in mind throughout the film process.


Susanna took the head writers under her wing and empowered them to put their own story structure together. She shared her experiences and expertise so the Mentors would understand how the writing process works in the TV and film industry. Yuliza shared:

The whole experience was very rewarding and allowed me to gain experience in a field that is seen everywhere. It gave me a much larger appreciation for TV and film, and it was great to have worked with such talented people.

David Trujillo and Mario Bartolo also took on leadership roles in the film process. They spent extra time planning the shots and artistic vision for the film, and then they assisted the film crew on the day of shooting. The film was shot in one day at Camp Bloomfield, and Susanna brought director Brandon Mastrippolito and his amazing crew including Todd Helsley, Greg Matthews, and Will Sterner, to professionalize the experience.  Mario noted:

I found being on the film crew very informative and very entertaining in the sense of watching all these ideas finally flourish on and off screen.


Finally, the film was edited by Armin Chamanara who added original music by Mentors Kevin Mitchell and Jose Medrano. Kevin noted:

It was an cool experience for me because I got to see my music on a short film. It was a huge accomplishment. The amazing part is that [the entire song started as] free-styling of what it was like to be in the IOCA program. We edited the lyrics and created the final version.

David explained of his experience:

The creation process and working with professionals in the field gave us an inside look of how the film industry works. One assumes that the film industry is a pretty serious field, filled with negotiations and cranky/moody directors.  However, those and many other film industry stereotypes where proven wrong while working alongside Susanna, Brandon and the crew. They showed us that the film industry can be a fun, goofy environment and that, that [approach] is essential to work in such a creative career field.


In the end, not only did the film turn out great, but the Mentors worked together, created something as an ensemble, and connected to industry professionals, which helped them explore career possibilities for their futures. Mentor Paulina stated:

Working with Susanna on this project helped me realize what I wanted to do in the future. It’s not so often we as teenagers get to work with professionals, (especially) with such a cooperative and helpful mentor who let us ‘take charge’ in the project.

I’d like to offer a huge thank you to the professionals who facilitated such an amazing experience and to the Mentors who worked in front of and behind the camera to create the Mentor film, Untitled.

Meet Our Summer Interns!

MaddiMadeleine Kruener, Program Intern (through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s (LACAC) Arts Internship Program)

Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
This fall, I will be a sophomore at Clemson University in South Carolina where I am studying marketing with a minor in nonprofit leadership. I’m so excited to be working closely with both the special events and programs departments as the LACAC Program Intern.

What book is currently on your nightstand?
The Great Gatsby is, hands down, my favorite book. It’s my go to summer read when I just want to relax.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
Right now, it is probably a tie between every song on the 1989 Taylor Swift album because it’s Taylor Swift (and who doesn’t love her?). However, summer time exists for country music so there is definitely some Luke Bryan thrown in there!

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
I love the Downtown LA Arts District. It has some of my favorite street art pieces, and I just love the vibe there. I’m a fan of musicals and have grown up attending plays at the Ahmanson. I love sitting outside before a play and people-watching!

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
Audrey Hepburn. No doubt about it.

“Arts education is important to me because the arts molded me into who I am today. I’m so passionate about P.S. ARTS because we are providing kids with exposure to the arts, which were so life-changing in my education.”

MarissaMarissa Manabat, Education & Media Intern (through the Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program)

Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
This fall, I will be a sophomore at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where I am double majoring in Studio Arts and Education. Some of my big projects this summer include updating the P.S. ARTS To Go! projects and planning for next school year’s Family Art Nights.

What book is currently on your nightstand?
Odd and Eccentric People by the Library of Curious and Unusual Facts. It’s a compilation of stories and biographies on some of the world’s “strangest” people.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
See you Again by Wiz Khalifa

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
The Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in San Marino is my absolute favorite place. I go there almost every single weekend! It has an amazing collection of art, but is also 207 acres of breathtaking gardens. If you haven’t been I definitely recommend going; you could easily spend a day there!

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
I love photography so I would probably choose to take Sally Mann out for coffee. Her work is amazing, and I love the way she pushes boundaries with her art.

“Arts education is important to me because students learn more than how to create and appreciate the aesthetics of art; they learn to think creatively. I was lucky enough to be in schools that offered arts education to encourage innovative thinking. I don’t know who I would be today without all those art classes and projects!”

TakePART Art Festival 2015



On Saturday, May 30th, 2015, P.S. ARTS hosted the fourth annual TakePART Art Festival: Building Bridges – Connecting Communities at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA. Over 2,100 people came together to celebrate arts education on this fun and exciting day!

Now in its fifth year, the TakePART Initiative is a collaborative effort between arts and community organizations, philanthropic partners, and five Centinela Valley school districts (Centinela Valley Union High, Hawthorne, Lawndale Elementary, Lennox, and Wiseburn) to implement sustainable, comprehensive, arts education programs for 20,000 students in the region from kindergarten to 12th grade. We are incredibly proud of the TakePART Art Festival’s continued growth year after year.

Festival-goers enjoyed various activities throughout the day including student performances in dance, music, and theater, a gallery featuring student artwork, and nine hands-on art booths, such as a drum circle, costume photo booth, visual art projects, and a decked out interactive bus by Yoobi, an art supply company that has generously donated supplies to P.S. ARTS in the past.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.37.59 PM

As a new member of the P.S. ARTS team, I was particularly excited to experience the ins and outs of my first TakePART Art Festival. I had the pleasure of creating two art projects for P.S. ARTS’ booths: Picasso Face Masks and String Art! After testing many different art projects in the weeks leading up to the big day, we decided these two projects were a perfect fit for the festival because they represent the P.S. ARTS motto: we have the freedom to imagine and the power to create. Picasso Face Masks allowed children to use their imagination to create Picasso-inspired artwork with vibrant colors and shapes they might not normally use when drawing faces. String Art! offered an opportunity to abandon conventions by splattering paint every which way using a string instead of a paintbrush. It was definitely messy, good fun!

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.37.48 PM

The day was filled with many smiling faces, and I was thrilled to be a part of an event in which the power of arts education to improve people’s lives was felt in a tangible way.

Thank you to all our partners, volunteers, and supporters who helped make this day a success! We are so grateful for your continued dedication to strengthening communities through the arts.

For more event photos, please visit our Flickr album!

Cabrillo’s Ceramic City (and more!)

Lora Cawelti, Program Coordinator

BY Lora Cawelti, PROGRAM MANAGER featuring Teaching Artist Nicole Fisher

This year, P.S. ARTS expanded into all eleven elementary schools in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) as a part of SMMUSD’s efforts to provide arts equity to all of their elementary students. One of the most exciting results of the expansion was the addition of talented new Teaching Artists like Nicole Fisher, Malibu parent and artist, to the P.S. ARTS faculty. Last week, Juan Cabrillo Elementary School’s visual arts residency with Ms. Fisher culminated with an exhibition of student work.


Ms. Fisher transformed the Juan Cabrillo auditorium into a beautiful gallery and worked with the students to curate their own art. Each student went through their portfolio to pick a favorite piece from the entire year’s body of work to be mounted and displayed at the art show. Parent Katie Anderson said, “It was a beautiful expression of each student – the works were so meaningful.”


The showing included watercolor flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, pointillism paintings, and “Cabrillo’s Ceramic City” with contributions from every student in the school. Ceramic creations included buildings, bridges, skyscrapers, markets, traffic lights, planes, cars, trucks, a skate park — even a mouse coming out of a trashcan!  In addition, the exhibit featured the 5th grade project entitled “Art & Sole.” For this annual rite-of-passage piece, students bring in a shoe that represents who they are. Then, they mount the shoe on a bookend and embellish it to convey a transitional time in their lives: moving from elementary school to middle school.


Experiencing the art show as a family is an annual highlight for the Juan Cabrillo Community.  Dawn Walker loves seeing “each child discussing (with parents and friends) their art and the artist or theme that inspired them with genuine pride and enthusiasm.” Another highpoint of the show was the student portrait gallery. After visiting a Chuck Close exhibit at the Weisman Gallery at Pepperdine University and working with guest artist Johanna Spinks, students explored portraits of themselves and others with photography, collage, and painting.


Ms. Fisher makes viewing the student exhibition even more meaningful by adding an “art scavenger hunt” to the event.  PTA President Desi Bradley shared, “I really loved the art show scavenger hunt; doing it with my daughter challenged us to more deeply explore the show. It was fun, informative, and got us to think about really seeing each piece of art.”

Congratulations to Ms. Fisher and the young artists of Juan Cabrillo Elementary!

P.S. ARTS’ Visual Arts program at Juan Cabrillo is made possible by SMMEF and the Juan Cabrillo PTA.

It’s Teaching Artist Appreciation Week!

This week is Teaching Artist Appreciation Week! As a follow-up to our recent Teacher Appreciation Day blog post, we wanted to take this opportunity to feature more of the movers and shakers of P.S. ARTS. Please join us in thanking all of the Teaching Artists who allow our 20,000 students to access their creative potential each week!

Goreti da SilvaGoreti da Silva (Theater)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades 3-5 and Compton Unified School District, Grades 6-8

Why do you teach?
I teach Theater because it allows me pass on an experience that changed my life. It is a great way to reach all students; those who haven’t had great experiences learning or are shy and those who are outgoing and love taking risks.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
Mrs. Vivona, my 7th grade teacher, changed my life by telling my mom I should enroll in Theater classes to help me overcome my shyness. At the time, I was terrified – but, she was right! Theater brought me out of my shell and into the light of possibility, imagination, and joy. I am forever grateful to her and my mom for pushing me into my light.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
Humans are part of one large village, and together we can accomplish anything we can imagine.

seabreezeMichelle Seabreeze (Dance)
Baldwin Hills Elementary School After-School Program

Why do you teach?
Dance is the expression of emotion through movement, and there are so few moments when we have the opportunity to escape our everyday anxieties and just move through our emotions. I believe dance is extremely cathartic.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I had an amazing teacher in college by the name of Cynthia Baldessare. She paid such close attention to each student that we all felt like we were getting special treatment. She listened to our personal stories and acknowledged our backgrounds as she guided us through our process. She made me realize the incredible power teachers have to help us harness our potential and scaffold our dreams.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They have an infinite potential to create possibilities and paths for themselves in the arts and in life!

Ana CastilloAna Ruth Y. Castillo (Visual Arts and Theater)
LAUSD/Lawndale Elementary School District, Grades 6-8

Why do you teach?
Teaching is an opportunity to help instill imagination and confidence in children. Being a P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist allows me to connect with children in a unique manner. While we practice hands-on skills, I witness their knowledge, their thought processes, their stories, and their growth. At the foundation of the Inside Out Community Arts program is the healing power of art. When children are modeled healthy ways of communicating and expressing their stories, this skill will transcend into their adulthood, their families, and communities. The work we do is powerful.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
College was the first time that I was encouraged to tell my story. I was told by my peers, “we must tell our own story because no one else will write it or say it for us.” As a first generation college student this was very profound, and I knew it was time to share who I was. I was inspired by poetry, theater, graffiti art, and music, and I knew that I would make my home among the arts. This is where I live now, and I’m grateful to be able to share the arts with children.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
What they have to say is important and valid, especially the youngest of children because they are so true to who they are. Children don’t lie, so what they express in the arts is a truthful expression of who they are, and truth is a powerful and empowering value to have.

Nicole FisherNicole Fisher (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades 3-5

Why do you teach?
There is an artist in ALL of us. It is just about finding the thing that lights the spark, and that is different for each of us.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with Beatrice Woods. She taught me that life can take you on many winding roads, both conventional and unconventional. Stay true to who you are, but do not be afraid to take risks.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They have value, and what they have to say is important. My goal is to encourage and inspire them to communicate creatively in their own unique voice. Finally, kindness and compassion will take you great places.

Martinez, LonnieLonnie Martinez (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-5

Why do you teach?
I was teaching art and music to kids even when I was a kid! I love to share – always have. When I was young I didn’t understand why I couldn’t give everyone I knew a present for Christmas. Then I realized writing a poem or song or painting a picture for someone was a way to give a gift and I didn’t need any money to do it. I didn’t set out to be an art or music teacher, it’s the path I ended up on by following what I love most: music, art, written words, and humans –  especially the little ones!

Joleen, Emma IDEmma Joleen (Music)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-2

Why do you teach?
I teach to learn. I’m a lifelong learner and children are the future. When I’m old and grey, the children will take care of the planet with joyful song and play. It is because of the children that I teach.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
Yes, my parents both played musical instruments, and they loved to sing and dance. My high school music teacher was my most nurturing and inspirational teacher; I still admire her patience, grace, and courage. I feel as though the values I learned from my music education have carried me through a melodious journey along the music staff of life.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
“Life is a song, love is the music! “

Lowe, Heather IDHeather Lowe (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-5

Why do you teach?
I teach because I love to teach. There is not a day that goes by in which teaching does not inspire me or help me to learn more about art. I believe teaching is a two way street; we, as teachers and students, discover the mysteries of art together. When we listen to one another, we learn to see things anew. Creating a rich environment of trust and invention makes us happier human beings. Although I am connected to all the art disciplines, visual art is my main strength in art; it is my language. We are always students – always learning.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
When I studied etching at Santa Monica College, there was an art teacher by the name of Baratucci. He taught me so many wonderful techniques, and my love for printmaking really blossomed under his guidance. I remember he once said, “You don’t have a printing press? Go get some wooden boards and use your car!”

An art teacher from UCLA taught me how to make perfect circles in the sand by taking a trip to the beach, learning how to listen to nature and how to focus on the creative spirit. Charles Garabedian taught me how to draw by observing with both my eyes and my imagination. Mr. Cheng taught me how to use the Chinese brush and ink by painting bamboo for hours. There are so many others!

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
I hope that my students understand the value of art in their life and in their world. I hope they know that art can thrive when all else fails in their life. I hope they find that special skill that will help them communicate their deepest feelings and thoughts.

Muratalla, Juan IDJuan Muratalla (Visual Arts)
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (Sandra Cisneros Campus), Grades K-8

Why do you teach?
I love to teach! I teach so I don’t forget. I teach to make a difference. I teach because I believe. I teach visual arts because it’s what fuels the essence of my life.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I have had great people around me, but the first teacher that inspired me to believe in myself was John. I still remember his wrinkled skin and his tired eyes that projected love to everyone around him. John worked at a church that provided arts and sports for the youth, and he exposed me to a world that I had no idea existed. A world of color. A world that made me think. A world that brought a smile to my face. A world where I felt safe. A world where I felt free to imagine and create anything – even if it made no sense, to John it was a masterpiece. He shaped me into the person that I am today. A person that wants to make a difference. A person that hopes to inspire and give others the chance to believe.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They can create their own space in the world through art.