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Student Voice Takes Center Stage Through Governor McKee and RIDE’s $5 Million ARTS Initiative

Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island Department of Education launch $5 million art education support effort to strengthen programming through student engagement and real-world connections 


LINCOLN, R.I. Student voice is taking center stage in the new $5 million ARTS Initiative, launched today by Governor Dan McKee, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) during a celebration at Lincoln High School.  

Under the Art Reengages Talent in All Students (ARTS) support effort, each public school district and charter school system will receive at least $10,000 to support arts in their schools, which include culinary, visual and media arts, performing arts and design.  


“After more than two years of disruptions due to the pandemic, the ARTS Initiative is a fantastic opportunity to reengage students in the arts and strengthen their connection with their schools,” said Governor Dan McKee.The arts have been proven to promote and improve mental health and increase academic performance. We not only look forward to the investments schools make, but the student engagement that makes them happen.” 

Grants can be used to purchase items such as musical instruments, auditorium upgrades, artists in residence, murals, sculptures, professional development, individual sponsorships, audio/visual or culinary equipment, and other investments that help provide high-quality arts education. 

During Act I of the ARTS Initiative, $4.5 million from the School Building Authority Capital Fund will be allocated to local education agencies on a per-student basis, with funding available through June 30, 2023. The top recipients are: 

  • Providence: $694,225  

  • Cranston: $328,840 

  • Warwick: $261,841 

  • Pawtucket: $260,527 

The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved the $5 million allocation during the May 17 meeting. 

“Every student in Rhode Island deserves a well-rounded education,” said Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Patti DiCenso. “Schools have a responsibility to provide that, and I hope this initiative will help ignite passion, promote engagement and open doors to opportunities in and out of the classroom.”  

Local education agencies will receive funding agreements and guidance, as well as a resource guide for schools that includes offerings from individuals and organizations in various artistic disciplines.  

“Through the arts, our students are discovering, imagining, creating and problem solving. From our youngest learners to soon-to-be high school graduates, everyone can benefit from strong arts programming,” said Commissioner Infante-Green.I am thrilled we are making investments that will have an impact on all students, no matter their zip code. A well-rounded education must include the arts.” 

RIDE is coordinating with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to expand outreach into the arts community statewide 

"On behalf of the state's Arts Council, congratulations to our partner RIDE as the agency supports and highlights the impact of the arts in our schools," said RISCA's Director of Communication, Faye Zuckerman. “This new program through RIDE's School Building Authority will enhance learning and broaden their career prospects." 

Echoing that sentiment are students and school leaders at Trinity Academy of the Performing Arts (TAPA) in Providence, where students learn to think like artists, acquire lifelong enthusiasm for learning and develop their personal identities.  

“Tapping into our students’ incredible potential, we use the arts to strengthen academic learning, empower youth and families, transform neighborhoods and lay the groundwork for post-secondary success for all,” said TAPA Director of Teaching and Learning Ammar Zia. “The arts are a powerful tool for social, emotional and academic success. The RIDE Arts Initiative helps provide opportunities so that all students can participate in the creative process no matter their background or income level.” 

“At Lincoln High School, the arts have had a great influence on my path after graduation. From freshman year sewing class, to sophomore year fashion, to creating an AP Art portfolio junior year and learning ceramics senior year, I have gained a multitude of new skills throughout the last four years,” said Lincoln High School senior Trinity Pickering.The arts at LHS have provided me with outlets to express my creativity in different artistic disciplines. I produced some of my best work during AP Studio Art last year, including the works that earned me the Wickford Art Association’s scholarship.”  

The education community celebrated the initiative with an ARTS Gala at the newly- 
renovated Lincoln High School, a $60 million investment that added a new main 
entrance, science labs, an auditorium, a library/media center, a gymnasium and more. 
The gala featured student performances, a speaking program, appetizers and desserts prepared by culinary arts students and a tour of the new administrative offices which have been turned into a permanent art gallery installation of revolving student artwork.  

"We are so excited to host Governor McKee, Commissioner Infante-Green and other distinguished guests at our newly-renovated high school to announce the ARTS initiative for schools and districts across the state,” said Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Filippelli. “At this event, our guests saw firsthand the importance that performing, visual and culinary arts have in the lives of our students. The arts offer a level of expression and creativity for students that may not be found in other subjects, and it is crucial that these programs be supported at all levels. The ARTS initiative provides this much-needed support to schools and districts. We are proud of our students involved in our numerous arts programs in our district and are especially proud of those students who were highlighted today at Lincoln High School.” 

"At Lincoln High School, we have always taken pride in offering students a comprehensive high school experience where they can pursue their personal passions and interests,” said Lincoln High School Principal Robert Mezzanotte. The ARTS initiative highlights some of these programs. We look forward to continuing to offer students a wide range of opportunities so that they can demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and talents in multiple ways." 

Act II of the ARTS Initiative will follow later this summer as the second pool of funding ($500,000) is leveraged with additional resources. Act II is incentives-based and interested LEAs will receive an application form by July 1, 2022.