The CPS Department of Arts Education encourages and supports robust collaborations between CPS schools and community arts organizations and teaching artists that bring the rich cultural resources of Chicago into the district’s classrooms.

CPS committed to ensuring that partner policies and resources address the best interests of our students and our valued partner community.  Below, partners who are currently approved to work in CPS schools can find important safety and security and procurement policies and resources. 

If you or your organization are not currently approved to work in CPS schools but would like to become a partner, please visit our Prospective Partners page.

Five Steps to Arts Partnership in SY2020-21

In order to work in CPS schools in school year 2020-21, arts partners should ensure that they follow the five steps below.

1. Have an Active Vendor Number

All partners who work with CPS schools must have an active vendor number from the CPS Department of Procurement.

Obtaining a Vendor Number
  • To obtain a vendor number, a school administrator needs to sponsor you as a vendor.
  • Once your sponsorship is approved, you will receive a Supplier Application from the CPS Department of Procurement.
  • Complete the application and provide the necessary documents for Procurement’s review. 
  • Be sure to plan ahead, as the sponsorship and review process can take some time.
Confirming your Vendor Status

If you 1) do not know what your vendor number is or 2) think that you may have an inactive vendor number, please complete the Procurement Customer Service Request Form with the name that your vendor number would be under or your Tax ID number. The Department of Procurement will help you find your vendor number and let you know if it is still active.

Note: Active vendor numbers deactivate after 15 months of no activity. If your vendor number has become inactive, the same process applies for reactivating a vendor number as it does for new vendors (see above).

Additional information about vendorship can be found on the CPS Department of Procurement page.

2. Obtain Background Checks

Determine whether you and/or your employees must complete a background check by using the Vendor Background Check Rubric.

If you/your employees do need background checks: See the SY20-21 Arts Partner Flowchart for more details. (SY20-21 flowchart coming soon!)

If you/your employees are entering a school only once: You may be considered Level 2 Volunteers, and you should become a volunteer organization. For more information on becoming a Level 2 volunteer, click here.

3. Determine What Contracts You Need

What type of contract you need to establish with a school/schools (if any) depends on how much money you will be charging for your services. 

If you are charging more than $25,000 per school year: You will need to become a Strategic Source Vendor. For more information on that process, please review the Arts Partner Flowchart. (NOTE: SY20-21 flowchart coming soon)

If you are charging less than $25,000 per school year: You are ready to do business with CPS and may begin work once a PO is opened.

If some or all of your services are free: You will need to sign a No-Cost Services Agreement with each school where you are providing services. For more information on this process, please review the Arts Partner Flowchart. (NOTE: SY20-21 flowchart coming soon)

4. Obtain a Tier Designation for Remote Work

To work remotely in CPS schools in SY2020-21, all arts partners must have a Tier designation from the CPS Department of Procurement.

Tier status indicates the level of interaction an organization may have with staff, students, and families in any remote learning environment, according to the CPS Acceptable Use Policy.

Most arts partners will fall under a Tier 1 designation. Tier 1 (Remote Learning Partner) permits conditional interaction with CPS staff, students, and families. 

CPS reserves Tier 2 status for vendors providing services that must be 1:1 and cannot be modified to be provided in a small-group setting due to confidentiality and the sharing of protected information (such as mental health services and counseling). Please do not request Tier 2 status unless your organization falls into the vendor category outlined here.

To obtain a Tier 1 designation from the Department of Procurement:

  • A school administrator must sponsor your designation and must complete the Remote Learning Tier Request Form. (Please note that the linked form is only accessible with a CPS login.) 
  • Receiving a Tier 1 designation should take approximately 2-3 business days. 
  • Your Tier designation will be applicable to any school that identifies your services. 

For more information on Tier designations, please visit this CPS Vendor Policy page or email with any questions.  

5. Engage in the Payment Process

  • Before you start any work with CPS, you must submit a quote to the school/schools you are working with, and they will open a purchase order (PO). Under no circumstance should work ever begin before a PO is opened. 
  • When your work is complete, you may invoice for the services delivered.
  • All invoices must be emailed to with your purchase order number in the subject line of the email, and your vendor number, purchase order number, and invoice number on the invoice itself.
  • Make sure each school receipts for services once they are rendered.

If you have questions about the invoicing process, please email

If you have questions about payment, email

Access the SY20-21 Partner Quickstart!

The Department of Arts Education has created a Partner Quickstart for all arts partners working with CPS schools in SY20-21. This guide details the five steps listed above and contains links to important resources.

Other Arts Partnership Supports and Resources

Below are other key resources and supports for arts partners working within CPS schools.

SY20-21 Arts Education Remote Learning Guidance

As CPS schools engage in remote learning in the 2020-21, the Department of Arts Education has released a SY21 Arts Education Remote Learning Guidance Document to support teachers, administrators, and arts partners. This document contains expectations, recommendations, and resources for implementing quality remote learning in the arts. Arts partners can navigate to the “Remote Arts Partnership” section of the Guidance by clicking on the bookmarked header in the Table of Contents.

Professional Learning and Other Partner Supports from Ingenuity

The CPS Department of Arts Education partners with Ingenuity, a national leader in arts data collection and mapping, strategy, advocacy, and partnerships related to arts education. Ingenuity offers unparalleled support to current and potential CPS arts partners and teaching artists across the city, including:

Ingenuity also maintains artlook Map®, which facilitates connections between schools and community partners and provides all stakeholders—schools, partners, funders, government agencies, and others—with robust data about arts education across the city.

If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback about arts partner policies and resources, please feel free to contact or call (773) 553-2170.