Goizueta Foundation donates $12 million to Woodruff Arts Center for education

By Maria Saporta

The Goizueta Foundation is donating $12 million, three-year grant to the Woodruff Arts Center to expand arts education programming for children and students up to the 12th grade.

The gift is the single largest grant that the center has rceived for its campus-wide education initiatives.

The grant also will help the arts center develop a cohesive and collaborative education platform that works with each of its divisions, including the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre and Young Audiences.

The grant also is intended to better incorporate the arts in Georgia’s core education curriculum tohelp make up for the state’s low investment in arts education.

The Goizueta Foundation was started in 1992 by the late Roberto C. Goizueta, longtime chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. The foundation’s primary mission is education and assisting organizations that empower individuals and families through educational opportunities.

“The reason we felt it was so important is because it builds on each division’s individual strengths,” said Maria Elena Retter, executive director of the Goizueta Foundation. “It’s going to make arts education in each division even stronger.”

But even more significantly, Retter said the foundation applauded the “vision to create an enterprise-wide strategic plan to get the divisions to work together.”

In a statement, Joe Bankoff, the Woodruff Arts Center president and CEO, called the gift “groundbreaking,” and said it would help catapult the center’s ability to serve the children of Georgia.

Bankoff added that the gift will help the center meet the increasing demand for arts education programs and that it will help improve academic achievement across various disciplines.

The Woodruff Arts Center adopted a strategic plan in May, 2008 that called for it to play a great role in education in the future. The goal outlined in the plan was to unify and build upon the education programs already being provided by the member institutions.

The grant will support the following initiatives:

* The Georgia Center for Professional Learning in the Arts: This will expand the professional development program to train artists to partner with classroom teachers;

* Pre-K through 12 Arts Education for the 21st Center: This will provide a comprehensive approach to arts edeucation by working with the Georgia Department of Education’s K-12 Performance standards through various programs including inschool concerts and performances;

* Out-Of-School Programming Initiative for Middle and High School Students: The center will provide greater opportunities for cultural enrichment of the youth through after-school, evening and weekend programs as well as through arts leadership programs, summer camps and online courses;

* Engagement and Community-Access Programs: The Woodruff Arts Center believes that arts and education should be available and accessible to all citizens, and the grant will help the center offer opportunities to children from all communities, including those that might no otherwise have exposure; and

* Expanded Programming for Families: The center will expand its family-oriented programming campus-wide so that families can experience a variety of cultural activities together.

“It’s exciting,” Retter said. “It says a lot about the leadership of Joe Bankoff, the Woodruff Arts Center and the divisions. It’s also a huge testament to the directors of education in each of the divisions.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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