The Chicago Arts Learning Initiative (CALI) was a community-wide, collaborative effort to ensure that quality, effective, culturally relevant arts learning is provided equitably and consistently to all Chicago Public School students. The initiative was driven by the Chicago Arts Education Collaborative, a group of Chicago philanthropic leaders working with Chicago Public Schools and the arts education community to enhance the educational experience for all children by working deliberately and cooperatively on a common agenda to improve arts learning. In addition to creating a plan for moving forward, the initiative also sought to create greater connectivity within the arts education sector to stimulate emergent activity and long-term adaptive capacity leading to sustainable change.
Engaged by the Collaborative, MG developed and implemented a community engagement process to solicit input from diverse stakeholders across Chicago, including educators and school administrators, arts educators, working artists and arts program administrators, arts funders, parents, and others, with specific focus on multicultural community engagement. MG facilitated four open forums across Chicago drawing hundreds of people, and reviewed data from a survey of arts funders and a field scan of 286 arts education programs. The process culminated in a two-day planning retreat, which identified not only a general course of action, but also critical unmet needs including increased involvement by parents in the planning process.
Based on the strategic foundation established during our work with the Chicago Arts Education Collaborative, a continuing planning process ultimately resulted in the creation of a unified agenda and plan of action, and establishment of Ingenuity Incorporated to serve as the “backbone” organization to carry the initiative forward.