Giving Back: Providing Arts Education to Children in Need

Today, as HuffPost and AOL unite to launch the Huffington Post Media Group, we're celebrating by making a statement about the importance of giving back and helping others.

Led by HuffPost Impact -- The Huffington Post's section devoted to service, causes, and volunteering -- every HuffPost section is featuring a group or individual who is taking action and inspiring others during these challenging times. Like the rest of the world, our hearts and minds are also focused on Japan, and we've created a resource page for everyone wishing to support the emergency relief efforts.

And we're thrilled to announce that Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, is joining the Huffington Post Media Group as Strategic Adviser For Social Impact. Stone will help the company to create innovative social impact and cause-based initiatives.

AOL/Huffington Post Media Group has also issued a 30-day Service Challenge to every one of its employees worldwide, encouraging them to give their time to non-profits in their local communities and organizing volunteer events in 16 cities.

We hope you'll join us in utilizing the power of online journalism to help people get involved, work together, and bring about real change.

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Giving Back: How You And The Arts Community Can Help Struggling Families

P.S. Arts is a non-profit organization that has been providing arts education to children in need all over Southern California. Chosen as a model for integrating arts education to the daily curriculum by Americans for the Arts, P.S. Arts currently serves more than 11,000 students in 25 schools. Of the population served, approximately 75% live at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($22,500 for a family of four), 45% are English language learners, and 11% have special needs.

In Los Angeles Unified School Districts, the arts were cut by up to 50% in many schools in 2010, and will likely be cut again by 50% to 100% in 2011. Disadvantaged and at-risk youth are often barred from school arts programs in favor of remedial instruction in reading and math, contradicting research showing that quality arts education provides even greater learning benefits to disadvantaged youth than their advantaged classmates. Restrictions on the State Arts and Music Block Grant Funds were lifted, resulting in many districts reallocating those funds for purposes other than the visual and performing arts.

Many of these kids served by P.S. Arts come from Spanish-speaking households. The obstacles these children face, in school where the instruction is in English and many teachers must 'teach to the test,' is staggering. Art doesn't have a language barrier. Children lucky enough to have P.S. Arts in their schools get to participate in visual art, music, dance or drama where they gain a sense of accomplishment, not to mention all the other obvious benefits that an arts education provides.

How can you get involved?

1. You can donate funds for supplies, adopting a class and more directly

2. You can volunteer by contacting P.S. Arts directly

3. You can adopt an entire class

4. Sponsor an event or Shop at the P.S. Arts Store

5. You can reach out to other organizations which provides arts to children in need around the country. Organizations we love include:
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Artists Collective
Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA)
Arts @ Large
Young Audiences
Nashville Children's Theater