Monday, December 8, 2014

Statement in Support of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Announcement on Providing Quality Education Services for America's Confined Youth
December 8, 2014 - The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) applauds and stands in support of the joint announcement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressing quality education services for America's confined youth.  The guidance and support are a welcome, needed set of priorities to improve opportunities for our nation's most vulnerable youth: those students in our juvenile justice facilities.  
SEF recognizes that there are persistent opportunity gaps faced by youth of color in this country, and is encouraged by the efforts of the My Brother's Keeper White House Initiative, and the jointly released sets of guidance from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice over the past several months: guidance released in October, to ensure all students have equal access to educational resources; and today's guidance to ensure that youth in juvenile detention centers are ensured a quality education.
Earlier in 2014, SEF released a report on the educational status and academic outcomes of incarcerated youth (Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems).   This report addressed the overwhelming lack of educational opportunity in our nation's juvenile justice systems, primarily impacting youth of color, and the need to transform the system.  SEF's Just Learning report found that in 2010, the approximately 70,000 youth incarcerated on any given day were primarily youth of color (63 percent).  The evidence that these youth have already been impacted by a lack of access and persistent inequity is clear, as the data show they enter juvenile justice facilities behind in school, possess substantial mental and health problems, and are frequently confined for nonviolent, minor offenses.  In 2009, most incarcerated youth in the system for 90 days or more failed to earn a single course credit, and only about one-quarter remained on track to re-enter their local schools.  The report concludes that juvenile justice programs are actually making it harder for students to turn their lives around.  These youth should not be forgotten when we work to achieve the goal under My Brother's Keeper of graduating every American child from high school college and career ready.
SEF's recommendations for transforming our juvenile justice systems are ambitious, in recognition that it will ultimately take an overhaul of priorities to make education the focus of incarcerated students' days.  We are encouraged that the jointly released guidance today reflects that necessary shift.  Our recommendations include:
  • Re-organize programs so that they are designed and operated to advance the teaching and learning of students.
  • Set and apply the same educational standards that exist for all students in a state to the schools and educational programs in the juvenile justice system.
  • Establish effective and timely methods of testing and reporting on the educational status and progress of every child and youth in the juvenile justice system.
  • Develop and implement an individual educational plan and learning strategy-including special education, developmental services, academic motivation and persistence, and meta-cognition-to guide the instruction and services of every student in the juvenile justice system.
  • Establish systems of coordination and cooperation to provide a seamless transition of students from and back into public schools.
  • Create and maintain data systems to measure institutional and system-wide educational progress and identify areas in need of improvement. 
Today's announcement and accompanying guidance present an important opportunity, and it will take all of us coming together to ensure incarcerated youth have access to quality education. The Dear Colleague letters should serve as useful tools and provide clarifying information on the protections afforded incarcerated youth.  We urge those leaders in juvenile justice systems across the country to take the guidance seriously, and we hope that the resources and supports these leaders need will be provided to transform juvenile justice facilities into effective educational systems.

Auditions for Independent Film

Online Audition

The Scenarios USA Chicago Film Veracity is a story about an African-American girl named Olivia J. Brownstein, who gains the courage to let her family and friends know that she is a lesbian. The response she got was not what she expected from those she loved most. Veracity explores the tension of being gay in the African-American community. The film will be directed by Seith Mann (Walking Dead, The Wire)

Step 1 – Read the character descriptions below and decide who you want to audition for. Then click the link under the character’s name to download the pages you need to read for the audition.

Step 2 – Click here to download the BLUE PRINT FOR AN AUDITION {} – It will tell you how to film and post your audition.


Send the link to your video or any questions directly to or call



Character Descriptions

Olivia J. Brownstein is the most popular girl in school. African American, about 17, talkative and outgoing at school but passive and quiet at home. She craves attention and loves to be loved, especially at school because she’s ignored at school. Wears a lot of in-style clothing (if not in her cheerleader outfit.)

Click Here {} to download the script for Olivia. NOTE: There’s 2 parts to this audition script!

Imani is the new girl in school. African-American, clumsy and quiet. She’s artistic and appears to be comfortable with who she is (but isn’t). Usually alone, an outsider and dresses more casually.

Click Here { } to download the script for Imani.

Karolyn is a "friend" of Olivia (her 2nd in command), African-American, about 17, comical but uptight and anxious for popularity. Tries to dress like Olivia

Click Here { } to download the script for Karolyn.

James has a crush on Olivia. He’s about 17, African-American and impulsive.

Click Here { } to download the script for James.

Sage is about 17, African-American, finds Olivia and offers her help.

Click Here { } to download the script for Sage.

Joseph is a little older (18-21), African American, buff/athletic with a deep voice. He was on his high school football team.

Click Here { } to download the script for Joseph.

To read the entire script for Veracity Click Here {}


Monday, November 24, 2014

Time Capsules - Arts Lab: Better Boys Foundation

Impressive Teens  - Leading the Way
I recently had some eye opening site visits with Better Boys Foundation and Free Write Jail Arts.  Once again I find myself humbled by the experience.  I can't begin to express how exciting it has been to watch these students, create, evaluate and collaborate.  Many times during my visit I would think about the phrase "At Risk".  I use it all the time to describe the student demographic of the organizations in the Arts Infusion cohort.  I use it all the time and it has always bothered me.  Using the term "at risk" has a strong intuitive meaning and I wonder if by using this phrase am I actually applying a label that de-humanizes, underestimates and devalues the capabilities of your teens?
One could argue that all youth regardless of gender, race, community and family are at risk of engaging in dangerous behavior, dropping out of school, or becoming a teen parent.  If this is true why does “At Risk” become the leading descriptor for identifying Arts Infusion youth?  At risk implies a chance or probability but not a certainty.  As I left both site visits I realized, with certainty, because of the commitment and drive of you the, teaching artist the teens in your programs are indeed “At Risk”, at risk of becoming innovators, creators and leaders in their communities. 
I’m looking forward to seeing more of your programs in the coming months.  Have a safe and happy holiday. 
Ann Douglas
Arts Infusion Program Coordinator

Beats Lab: Better Boys Foundation



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dear Arts Infusion Teaching Artists and Program Directors:

I will be facilitating the next Arts Infusion Knowledge Share on Monday, November 10, 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation:

5114 S. Elizabeth St., Chicago, IL 60609

As we move into the 5th year of this initiative, it is important that our teaching artists all become familiar with the assessment methods we developed over the 2013 – 2014 Arts Infusion program year. This needs to include the many exciting new teaching artists that have joined our fold.

Implementing effective assessment methods to continually improve our work is crucial this year because this is the final year of the first round of funding for Arts Infusion work. We need to make the strongest case we can for sustaining this important program.

Please help your teaching artists become familiar with the assessment website created for your Arts Infusion organization to prepare them for the Knowledge Share.  Your organization’s assessment website can be easily accessed at this web address: It would be especially helpful if your program directors and your teaching artists reviewed together the 2013 – 2014 assessment data analyses done for your organization (or in a few cases, organizations have done themselves internally) BEFORE that knowledge share. Collectively, we have created some meaningful new approaches to assessment, and we have a lot to learn from each other’s work.

At the Knowledge Share we will explore together samples of each other’s assessment instruments:

in a Swap Meet / Speed Dating knowledge exchange activity. I have reformatted your instruments slightly for ease of reading. We will also look at the results of last year’s assessment data analyses:

to learn from last year’s data and to plan our most effective programming for this year.

Please bring a laptop or an i-pad to work on if you can. We will be sharing a lot of knowledge at this Knowledge Share, and electronic tools will make it easier to capture that knowledge.

Looking forward to seeing you on Monday, November 10th


Arnold Aprill

Arts Infusion Initiative Assessment Consultant

PS: In addition, I am more than glad to meet with any Arts Infusion organization that wants one-on-one counseling on deepening its assessment methodology for this year. Here again is my contact info:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

November Knowledge Share

Creating Meaningful Assessment

Knowledge Share

Monday, November 10, 2014

10 AM to 2 PM

Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation

5114 S. Elizabeth St, Chicago, IL 60609




9:30 AM – 10:00 AM:

Coffee, Pastries, Sign in


10:00 AM – 10:30 AM:

Presentation on Arts Infusion Assessment Methods

Arnold Aprill, Principal Investigator, Radical Compliance Arts and Learning Laboratory


10:30 AM  - 12:00 Noon:

Arts Assessment Swap Meet

Participatory dialogue between arts infusion teaching artists on existing assessment instruments


12:00 Noon – 12:30 PM:



12:30 Noon – 1:00 PM:

Analysis of 2013 – 2014 Assessment Results in Small Groups


1:00 PM – 1:30 PM:

Planning Assessment Needs and Methods for 2014 – 2015 in Small Groups


1:30 PM – 2:00 PM:

Group Reflection

What Have We Learned? What new actions do we need to take?



Contact information for assessment support:

Arnold Aprill

773 627 – 6619


Thursday, September 25, 2014

For your Teens

Join us for The Chicago Track: Film Kickoff Event

Are you between the ages of 18 - 25 and
interested in breaking into the film industry?
Come to The Chicago Track Film Kickoff
to get the inside scoop from industry professionals
in casting, camera, special effects,
costume design, producing and more.
Learn all about our film workshop series that will grant
unprecedented access to the people behind the screen
who will show YOU how to get seen and heard.
*** All attendees will leave with a FREE headshot***
  This event is free and open to the public.
         Snacks and refreshments provided free of charge!
                                                  Thanks to our official partner and host,
The Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago

Follow us for updated information!
Twitter: @CHI_TRACK
The Chicago Track is an industry school for film and music, hosted by Free Spirit Media, Young Chicago Authors and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Have questions about The Chicago Track: Film Kickoff Event? Contact The Chicago Track: An Industry School for Film and Music
Chicago Artists Month
Chicago Artists Month Featured Artists, photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux, Inc.
Chicago Artists Month Featured Artists, photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux, Inc.
Welcome to the 19th Annual Chicago Artists Month, a five-week, 300+ event celebration of the creative pulse and impulse of our city. Drawing from visual art, dance, fashion, music, theater, culinary arts and every other genre of art-making imaginable. CAM is a non-juried program featuring events throughout October including open studio tours, neighborhood art walks + festivals, performances, learning/making and exhibitions featuring Chicago-based artists and arts organizations.

Kicking off this Saturday, September 27 and continuing through October 31, meet artists and see their work at venues across Chicago.

Crossing Borders
 CAM Featured Artists photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux Inc. Chicago Artists Month Featured Artists, photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux, Inc.
Crossing Borders means leaving your neighborhood, your physical comfort zone, to explore the environs of others around you. Crossing Borders means painting mixing it up with music, poetry in the kitchen - or dancing about architecture. Crossing Borders means immigrants from faraway lands making their homes in Chicago and transforming the creative soul of with a little bit of Africa, or South America, or...
Crossing Borders, the theme of Chicago Artists Month 2014, means you meeting us meeting others and, in the process, changing the way we see the world, our city and ourselves.
2014 Featured Artists and Events
Crossing Borders
Chicago Artists Month Featured Artists, photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux, Inc.
Plan Your CAM
Crossing Borders
Start this Saturday at A Day in Avondale with featured artist Jorge Felix's Sofrito. Or take a trip through the lookingglass with featured artist Noelle Krimm's Alice, a roving production that turns a block in Andersonville into a wonderland every weekend. Nick Fury's Victorian Graffics will be unveiled at the CTA Green Line Ashland/Lake station, and  Jonald Jude Reyes is part of  Stir Friday Night, an Asian-American comedy group appearing late night at Theater Wit.
Pick up our Official Program Guide in this week's issue of Newcity, at the Chicago Cultural Center or at a participating organization.
See the complete event listings at
'Like' Chicago Artists Month on Facebook and follow @ChicagoDCASE on Twitter to stay up to date on all that's happening!
About CAM
Chicago Artists Month is presented as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Park District. In-kind support was received from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises®, Inc. Media sponsors are WTTW and WFMT.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Chicago Park District

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