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Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Launches Columbia Arts and Humanities Project with $200K Donation Sheffield, MA— The Columbia Arts and Humanities Project was launched today at a press conference in Hudson, NY with a $200,000 donation for the Chatham, Germantown, Kinderhook/Ichabod Crane, New Lebanon, Hudson and Taconic Hills school districts. Since 2000, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has worked together with The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation to establish Arts and Humanities Funds for all six public school districts in Columbia County, NY. At the end of March 2011, the education funds had a combined total of over $1 million for the benefit of their students. ―This is an extraordinary initiative that is having a profound impact on our schools,‖ said Jennifer Dowley, president of Berkshire Taconic. ―Now, students from the smallest and most isolated of Columbia County’s school districts, or from the most troubled, have the opportunity to participate in world-class arts and humanities programs. This can’t help but make a difference. Columbia County is indeed fortunate to have such a committed and enlightened donor.‖ ―In 6th grade I had an art teacher, Dorothy Opsit, who opened up the world for me … both visually and intellectually. I’ve always been amazed that one special person in your life can change it,‖ said Ellsworth Kelly. ―As arts programs are being cut across the country, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has been able to touch the lives of thousands of children through programs in arts and humanities programs throughout Columbia County.‖ Berkshire Taconic is responsible for developing and coordinating regional collaborative opportunities, and is spearheading the Columbia Arts and Humanities Project. Education consultant Jeffrey Levitsky has been retained to coordinate the project. The Foundation advises the districts on countywide programming and building each fund’s connections with area artists and cultural institutions, ensuring that programs have a strong connection to the curriculum and that they aspire to the highest standards of quality. The first district collaboration funded by the Columbia Arts and Humanities Project was a multi-school field trip to see ―American Idiot‖, a much praised musical on Broadway. Other proposed projects include: A multi-school field trip to the Clark Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA in the spring and a fall visit to MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Both outings will involve interactions with curators, arts educators and artists A staff development day at the Clark for art teachers and English, social studies, math and science teachers interested in making interdisciplinary connections to the museum collection Career Night in the Arts at Taconic Hills High School in the fall for the students of all schools to explore career opportunities with artists, writers, photographers, musicians, and theater professionals A Columbia County Arts and Humanities Project website that will allow students to post their artwork and ask art related questions of and receive critiques from local professional artists ―Ten years ago, I met with Jack Shear, the Director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation at a coffee shop in Chatham,‖ said Dowley. ―He referenced a newspaper article about a nearby school district that offered enrichment programs that students couldn’t get through the existing curriculum. Jack was inspired by the idea, and wanted to see something like it not only in Chatham, but throughout the county. We’ve worked together ever since to build a lasting source of enrichment in the arts and humanities for the students of Columbia County. It’s really an incredible series of gifts and a very serious investment in the future of our children. We hope that it inspires others to come forward and invest in causes they care about.‖ This is the tenth year that the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has made a significant contribution to build these important education enrichment funds. In most cases, a grant of $100,000 was made—half to be awarded in increments of $10,000 a year for five years and half as a challenge to the community to raise a matching $45,000 for an endowment to ensure its permanence and finally $5,000 made available to cover fundraising expenses. The Hudson City School was awarded $200,000 and has $100,000 to raise to meet its endowment challenge. Each year, grants are awarded by each school district for projects such as visiting artists, student publications and technology in the arts. ―We would like to congratulate the hard working volunteer committees who have worked for many years to raise matching money for endowments through bake sales, craft fairs, cocktail parties, letter writing campaigns, grant applications, and visits with funders,‖ said Dowley. ―It’s been an intense community effort in each of our towns and they have risen to the occasion. We salute all our communities for supporting the arts and humanities for our children.‖ Berkshire Taconic Board Chair Virginia Stanton Smith said, ―Berkshire Taconic has been a leader over the last 15 years in bringing private philanthropic dollars into the classrooms of students in our public schools for projects that are not covered by tax dollars. We are here in perpetuity to work in partnership with the schools, business leaders, individuals and families in our community to further enhance public education. Berkshire Taconic’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves – you can count on us to maintain our commitment to education, one of the most important benchmarks in any healthy community.‖ To make a donation to the Arts and Humanities Funds in Columbia County, or to find out how to make a difference in your community, visit www.berkshiretaconic.org/makeadonation or call 413.229.0370. Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation builds stronger communities and improves the quality of life for all residents of northwest Litchfield County, CT; Berkshire County, MA; and Columbia County and northeast Dutchess County, NY, acting as an agent for positive change in the region. Since 1987, Berkshire Taconic has managed a growing collection of charitable funds created by individuals, families and businesses. Each year, the foundation distributes over $7 million through grants and scholarships for programs in the arts and education, health and human services and environmental protection, helping thousa nds of donors achieve their philanthropic goals and hundreds of nonprofits carry on their good work. Berkshire Taconic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.
"Columbia Arts and Humanities Project"