About Arts for Impact


  • Arts for Impact

The belief in the power of the arts to transform urban education is at the heart of the Arts for Impact Strategy. Arts for Impact reflects a vision for arts teaching and learning based on an approach designed to target and implement arts learning and pedagogy strategies to enhance and accelerate learning for urban adolescent students. Arts for Impact seeks to locate arts learning in education by helping students, teachers and schools reach their achievement goals. Arts for Impact challenges urban adolescents, educators and schools to see new possibilities for themselves and create an environment which awakens the creative and social imagination to fully envision and realize the student’s full potential and impact on the world.


Meaningful and sustained engagement in study of the arts impacts the ways in which students come to understand 1) themselves as individuals, 2) their capacity to create, to learn and to express themselves, enhancing confidence and self-esteem,, 3) the meaning of artistic literacy and how their personal creativity enhances every aspect of their lives, 4) points of view of their peer group, 5) how using their voice and personal choice enhances learning, and 6) the role that they play in shaping their community as well as the global society in which they live, to better prepare them to be successful in school, work, and life.


When students study the arts intensively as discrete subjects, they use multiple intelligences, deepen thinking, attain knowledge and build 21st Century skills in creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, and communication. Study of the arts also supports the development of social and emotional skills, cognitive skills, personal discipline, flexibility, and the confidence to take risks and to seek the opportunities from trial and error. Arts for Impact believes in students developing the knowledge and skills that they need in the arts as individual subjects; however, the Arts for Impact Strategy is also effective for use in curriculum that takes an arts integration approach and in arts magnet schools whenever individual arts classes are present in the curriculum.

  • National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA)

The National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA), a nonprofit professional development organization, was founded in 1989 at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the College Board. The foundational principles and high operational practices guiding the NUA derive from the Pedagogy of Confidence®, an approach to learning and teaching based on the fearless expectation that all students are capable of high intellectual performances. This approach integrates the findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience with practical applications that dispel the myths regarding urban adolescent youth and their ability to learn while rekindling teacher confidence to motivate the vast capacity in urban students.

The Pedagogy of Confidence is a transformational approach to teaching and learning based on the following beliefs: 1) Intelligence is modifiable, 2) All students benefit from a focus on high intellectual performances, and 3) Learning is influenced by the interaction of culture, language and cognition. Mirroring approaches to gifted and talented education, The Pedagogy of Confidence is implemented through a corresponding set of high operational practices designed to engage urban students and prime them for high levels of performance, student-based learning and self actualization.

  • Arts Learning and Pedagogy: Foundational to the Network’s Approach

The ultimate goal of the Network’s approach is the inclusion of the arts and arts learning as a part of the process of learning in whole schools nationwide. We know that arts learning knowledge and content balanced with effective teaching strategies (pedagogy) is a powerful force to create dramatic results from potential to high achievement for urban adolescent students.

The Networks’ arts practices are designed to shift belief systems regarding the learning and thinking capacity of urban adolescent students .Our strategy focuses on student strengths and gifts rather than weaknesses thereby shifting from a low bar of expectation to one that reflects the high intellectual and creative capacity of urban students. We refer to this process as “gifting.”  We seek in the Network to

‘Engage the Artist in Every Child’ by providing urban adolescent students with educational experiences in the arts that mirror gifted and talented approaches to learning.

Research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology have determined the modifiability of intelligence, the benefit of teaching and learning from personal strengths and the anchoring of cognition in culture and language. Arts for Impact strategies are designed to highlight these findings in practice. We focus on the urban adolescent student because this is a decisive point in psychological, emotional and cognitive development, and a defining stage for building student identity and confidence. Arts for Impact serves as a mediation strategy targeting under-developed skills through affirming cultural frames of reference. The Arts for Impact Social Justice curriculum and all Network arts practices illicit a personal motivation for learning by providing strategies  that link students to their talents and strengths, to their culture and to their unique meaning-making and creative capacity.

Overarching Connections between Arts for Impact and The Pedagogy of Confidence:

  • Arts Learning as a Mediation Strategy: Mediating Underdeveloped Skills through Affirming Cultural Frames of Reference. The purpose of mediation is to illicit from the learner a personal motivation for the learning process and to provide strategies for linking students to their strengths, their culture and their community.
  • Arts Learning and Cognition: The Network correlates arts learning with the high operational practices of The Pedagogy of Confidence to heighten creative, intellectual, academic and social development. The seven high operational practices are: Identifying and Activating Strengths, Building Relationships, Nurturing High Intellectual Performances, Providing Enrichment, Incorporating Prerequisites, Situating Learning in the Lives of Students, and Amplifying Student Voice.
  • The Social Justice Curriculum, The Continuum Project and other Network Curricula: Clarify through practice the interconnectedness of language, culture and cognition; advance arts learning pathways to 21st Century and higher order thinking skills; and connect arts learning to the Common Core Standards supporting college and career readiness.
  • Arts Learning Strategies: Serve as a means to self-directed learning, performance-based learning and the empowerment of student voice.
  • Professional Development to impart the Principles of The Pedagogy of Confidence.