Are you (or your organization) interested in working in Chicago Public Schools? Based on questions that the CPS Department of Arts Education has received, and the most frequent circumstances under which community-based arts organizations seek advice, here are some key questions that need to be answered in order to pursue successful partnerships within CPS.

1. Do you know which school(s) you would like to partner with? 

In order to kick off the partnership process with CPS, you must identify a school or schools to work with.

Partners can browse Ingenuity’s artlook® Map to find detailed information on schools’ arts-related data, their existing arts partners, and the types of partnerships they are seeking. Each school has a designated Arts Liaison who can be contacted regarding partnerships.

Important: The Department of Arts Education strongly discourages adding Arts Liaisons to any general organizational mailing lists or sending any other type of bulk promotional communications to Arts Liaisons. It is strongly recommended that an arts organization limit communications to the school(s) that have indicated interest in the services provided by said organization, or if communication with the school(s) has previously been established or actively solicited.

Partners can also join Ingenuity’s yearly Summits, at which arts partners have a chance to mix and mingle with CPS Arts Liaisons and other school delegates in order to establish connections that can lead to strong partnerships. At summits, CPS schools also have a chance to win seed money to apply directly toward arts partnerships.

2. Do you have a CPS Vendor Number?

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

  • To obtain a vendor number, a school administrator will need to sponsor you as a vendor and submit a sponsorship request form.
  • 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.

If you are looking for additional information about vendorship, visit the CPS Department of Procurement page.

3. Are you approved to work with CPS students? 

Background Checks: All partners working in CPS schools (face to face or remotely) must determine whether they need to complete background checks. To determine whether you and/or your employees need to complete a background check, use the Vendor Background Check Rubric.

NOTE: Information on additional approvals necessary to work with CPS students in SY21-22 is forthcoming. 

4. Is your curriculum, instruction, and assessment aligned to the updated Illinois Arts Learning Standards, the CPS Instructional Core Vision, and the CPS Instructional Priorities?

All CPS teachers are expected to align their curriculum, instruction, and assessment to the updated Illinois Arts Learning Standards, which took effect in September 2018. The CPS Department of Arts Education maintains a Standards Toolkit with numerous resources to help teachers understand and implement the standards.

In SY20-21, the CPS Office of Teaching and Learning released an Instructional Core Vision along with a set of six Instructional Priorities and currently engages all subject area teachers and school leaders in professional learning cycles aligned to these Priorities. These learning cycles are designed to help teachers and school leaders engage students in relevant, responsive, standards-aligned learning every day, while offering all students and school staff daily opportunities to practice social-emotional learning competencies in a supportive and anti-racist community. 

All partners are strongly encouraged to demonstrably align their in-school and out-of-school programming and their professional learning offerings for CPS educators with the Illinois Arts Learning Standards, the Instructional Core Vision, and the Instructional Priorities. 

5. Do you have a clear vision of quality to guide your organization, your staff (teaching artists and administrators), your programs, and your partnerships?

Ingenuity’s Arts Partner Standards of Practice are diagnostic tools for arts organizations and teaching artists to articulate their vision for quality teaching and learning in the arts. The APSP contain focus areas, elements and characteristics of practice which teaching artists and organizations can use as a guide for self-evaluation. Many arts education stakeholders use the APSP to help determine partner readiness, capacity, and program quality.

6. Do you have clear program assessment practices in place to articulate and measure the impact of your work in schools?

It is recommended that all organizations working within CPS schools develop clear assessment practices so that they can regularly evaluate the impact and success of their programs. The Arts Partner Standards of Practice can be used to help develop and refine assessment practices.

7. Has your organization developed clear communications, marketing, and recruiting strategies?

Arts partners working in CPS schools should develop clear and transparent communication, marketing, and recruitment strategies for use with school administrators, teachers, students, and families.

8. Do you align teacher professional learning to the CPS Framework for Teaching and the Arts Addendum to the Framework?

Modified from Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, the CPS Framework for Teaching is the foundation of school and district mentoring, coaching, professional learning, and teacher evaluation processes. The Arts Addendum was created by the CPS Department of Arts Education to illustrate how important and unique aspects of arts teaching practice in music, visual arts, theatre, and dance align with the CPS Framework.

Do you have additional questions about working with CPS schools? Contact the CPS Department of Arts Education at or (773) 553-2170.