Empowering Arts Education: California’s Innovative Toolkit Unveiled

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In a groundbreaking stride towards nurturing artistic endeavors in California’s public schools, WestEd and Create CA have collaboratively launched an innovative toolkit designed to guide local education agencies (LEAs) in strategically investing in arts education. This initiative follows the passage of Proposition 28 in November 2022, earmarking approximately $938 million for the 2023-24 school year to fortify arts programs across the state. The toolkit is poised to empower LEAs in cultivating comprehensive arts curricula, spanning dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts, catering to all schools and grade levels.

Proposition 28: Paving the Way for Arts Investment:

Proposition 28, a landmark decision passed by Californian voters, has laid the foundation for a substantial investment in arts education. With a dedicated fund of $938 million allocated for the 2023-24 academic year, the proposition signifies a resounding commitment to fostering creativity and self-expression among students. The toolkit, unveiled by WestEd and Create CA, emerges as a strategic resource to guide LEAs in channeling Proposition 28 funding effectively.

Comprehensive Templates for Strategic Funding:

At the heart of the toolkit are meticulously crafted templates tailored for Proposition 28 funding. These templates encompass crucial aspects such as community input solicitation on fund allocation, financial planning documents, an informative FAQ section, detailed program profiles, and a repository of additional resources. The toolkit serves as a compass, navigating LEAs through the intricate landscape of arts education funding, ensuring a well-rounded and equitable distribution of resources.

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Sharon Herpin’s Insights on Arts Education:

Sharon Herpin, Senior Project Director at WestEd, underlines the pivotal role of arts education in fostering self-expression and discipline among students. Herpin’s insights emphasize the toolkit’s significance in providing LEAs with actionable resources to shape robust arts programs. The toolkit is not merely a financial guide but a visionary tool poised to cultivate an environment where creativity thrives and students find a canvas for their artistic aspirations.

Collaborative Development and Foundation Support:

The toolkit’s development has been made possible through collaboration with various California education organizations and the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This collaborative effort underscores a shared commitment to sculpting a future where arts education is an integral part of every student’s learning journey. The toolkit is a testament to the power of collaboration in translating visionary propositions into actionable resources that benefit students across the state.

National Endowment for the Arts Grant:

In a further endorsement of WestEd’s commitment to advancing arts education, the organization secured a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in January 2024. This grant is earmarked to support research delving into how California school districts are leveraging Proposition 28 funding to enhance equitable access to arts education. Part of a broader $32 million arts funding pool for organizations nationwide, this grant positions WestEd at the forefront of driving positive change in arts education.

Shaping Best Practices for Equitable Access:

Expressing gratitude for the NEA grant, Sharon Herpin emphasizes its pivotal role in identifying and sharing best practices. The grant aims to scrutinize the utilization of Proposition 28 funds, ensuring they serve as catalysts for broadening access to arts education. By shaping and disseminating best practices, WestEd seeks to contribute to a landscape where every student, regardless of background or location, has unfettered access to the transformative power of arts education.

Availability and Compliance Advisory:

While the toolkit is readily accessible, it is imperative to note that its documents are intended for planning purposes and do not serve as official compliance documents. Schools and LEAs are encouraged to utilize these resources flexibly, aligning them with their unique needs and aspirations. The toolkit, enriched with insights and templates, beckons education stakeholders to embark on a transformative journey, propelling arts education to the forefront of California’s scholastic landscape.


As the toolkit unfolds its comprehensive resources, California stands on the brink of a new era in arts education. Proposition 28’s financial infusion, coupled with the strategic guidance offered by the toolkit, positions the state as a trailblazer in fostering creativity and self-expression. The collaboration between WestEd, Create CA, and various partners, supported by foundational and national grants, symbolizes a collective commitment to empowering students through the transformative force of arts education. As LEAs delve into the toolkit’s offerings, they embark on a journey to sculpt vibrant, inclusive, and artistically enriched learning environments, echoing the sentiment that every student deserves a canvas for their creative aspirations.

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