Searching for funding opportunities to supplement your school’s allotted budget for the arts? Here you’ll find information about how to access grant money for arts programming, supplies, and equipment.

Arts Essentials Grant Program

What is Arts Essentials? 
The Arts Essentials Grant Program provides $1,000 to all schools that have achieved Creative Schools Certification in Categories 1, 2, 3, or 4 and have an active Arts Liaison. This money can be used toward materials, equipment, and supplies for arts classrooms. 

How Do I Get an Arts Essentials Grant for My School? 

Schools do not need to apply for an Arts Essentials grant. In order to be eligible for Arts Essentials, a school must: 

  • Have an active Arts Liaison who has been nominated by the principal. Arts Liaisons serve as the on-site arts champions for their school communities. They must be (re)nominated at the start of every school year. To renominate a Liaison or nominate a new Liaison, principals should complete this form
  • Have an active Arts Liaison complete the yearly Creative Schools Survey in the Spring of every school year. The Creative Schools Survey collects arts data from each school to determine the level at which it meets the goals and priorities outlined in the CPS Arts Education Plan. 
  • Have a Creative Schools Certification rating of 1, 2, 3, or 4. Categories are determined through analysis of data from the Creative Schools Survey. Learn more about the categories.

Once school Certification categories are released in the late fall of every school year, Arts Essentials funding is loaded into qualified schools’ budgets and purchasing can begin. 

How Can Arts Essentials Money Be Spent? 
Arts Essentials funding can only be spent on materials, supplies, and equipment for visual art, music, dance, theatre, and media arts programming or instruction during the school day. The principal, Arts Liaison, and arts staff should work together to identify the area(s) of greatest need .

For a step-by-step walkthrough of the purchasing and reimbursement process, download the purchasing guide for Arts Essentials

Other Arts Essentials Resources 

Creative Schools Fund

What is the Creative Schools Fund? 
The Creative Schools Fund is a grant-making partnership between Ingenuity, Inc. and the Department of Arts Education to support the expansion of arts education in schools. It is the only funding effort in Chicago that grants directly to schools for programs designed by teachers to increase arts access. 

The Creative Schools Fund’s goals, focused on arts instruction during the school day, are to: 

  • Fill gaps in time and resources spent on arts instruction, increase arts access across all grade levels, and expand the depth and breadth of artistic disciplines available in a school 
  • Support schools to progress in creating and sustaining high quality arts instruction during the school day 
  • Forward innovative approaches to arts instruction that can serve as models within the district

How Do I Apply for a CSF Grant? 
The grant application portal for SY17–18 is now closed. This year’s recipients will be notified on or around December 15, 2017. 

Applications for SY18–19 will be accepted beginning in Summer 2018. 

Other Arts Funding Resources

Browse the following links to find other opportunities for funding arts programming and initiatives in your school. 

Chicago Foundation for Education Small Grants 
These grants of up to $600 fund the implementation of classroom and school-wide curricular projects that respond to the specific academic, social, and emotional needs of a student population. 

Crayola’s “Champion Creatively Alive Children” Initiative 
Creative leadership teams at selected schools receive $2,500, plus $1,000 worth of Crayola products to develop an art-infused, creative capacity-building, professional development program. Note: Principals from applicant schools must be NAESP members. 
A platform that connects teachers in high-need communities with donors who want to help. Download a tutorial on how to create a compelling Donorschoose proposal, created by CPS teacher Amy Ellifritz.

A free crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events. 

How to Make an Amazon Classroom Wishlist 
An EdTech tutorial on setting up a public Amazon wishlist to share with potential givers. 

Little Kids Rock 
This nonprofit partners with public school districts in economically disadvantaged communities with the goal of ensuring that all students have access to music education. Teachers apply to be trained in the Little Kids Rock methodology; after training is complete, they receive a donation of curricula, instruments and other resources to launch Modern Band music programming at their schools. 

Moss Foundation National Teacher Grants 
Awards of up to $1,000 to support a new or evolving program that integrates the arts into educational programming. The purpose is to aid and support teachers who wish to establish an effective learning tool using the arts in teaching children who learn differently. 

NEA Art Works 
The principal grant program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Art Works funds artistically excellent projects that celebrate America’s creativity and cultural heritage, invite a dialogue that fosters a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups, and enrich our humanity by broadening our understanding of ourselves as individuals and as a society. Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000. 

Social Emotional Learning Innovation Fund 
Grants of up to $5,000 (for teacher-led projects) and $25,000 (for district projects spanning multiple schools) are given to individual educators, teams of educators or district leaders seeking to improve systems that foster social and emotional skills in fresh, inventive or innovative ways. 

Target Field Trip™ Grants 
Grants of up to $700 to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom.

Resources for Free or Cheap Art Materials and Supplies

Chicago Creative Reuse Exchange 
A nonprofit working with local and national businesses to source surplus materials for teachers and other nonprofits. They also offer creative reuse programming such as workshops, webinars, and exhibitions. 

Creative Pitch 
Arts teachers, art therapists and other arts professionals can apply to receive free graphic design supplies including crayons, pens, paper, paint, brushes, canvas, glue, scissors, rulers, clay and more. 

Creative Reuse Warehouse 
This program locates and collects business and industry salvage for resale at an extremely low price, entirely donation-based.
NAEIR Teacher’s Program 
Individuals who join this program pay nominal processing and handling to receive products like arts and crafts items, pens and pencils, highlighters, scissors, stickers, and more. In most cases, members pay less than a third of what they would pay at deep discount stores, and shipping is free.

The WasteShed Chicago
Chicago storefront that sells reclaimed art supplies at very low prices. They also hold workshops on mending clothes, making crafts and more.

Zero Landfill Chicago 
Provides surplus and outdated architectural and interior design samples, including interesting fabric, wallpaper, tile, glass, metal, carpet, laminates, binders, books, matboard, foamcore and more.