The Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers is a unique A&E partnership that provides critical funds to arts education programs serving St. Louis area school districts. Maritz and the Arts and Education Council partner to offer this unique funding opportunity to individual schools and nonprofit organizations to support projects and opportunities that encourage creativity in the classroom; the grants are administered by the Arts and Education Council and funded through a significant, leadership gift from Maritz. The distinctive funding program enables teachers to apply directly for a grant to use during the school year. The Fund’s goal is to support classroom-based projects and artistic opportunities that engage students in the creative process.

The 2016-17 Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers Grantees (in alphabetical order):


Art Unleashed and the Boonslick State School will partner to provide high quality arts education to students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Boonslick State School provides an outstanding educational environment for these special students whose unique needs cannot be met in a typical public school setting.   Art Unleashed is an independent non-profit organization created to enrich the lives of students of all ages and abilities.  The students reside in seven different school districts across St. Charles County.Art Unleashed uses the visual arts as a vehicle to cultivate individual’s creative self-expression, improve artistic abilities, and enhance self-esteem in a safe and welcoming environment.   This Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers grant will allow Art Unleashed to provide Boonslick students with much-needed access to arts education at no cost to their families or to the School.


Brown Elementary School’s grant will support a fifth grade theatrical production of Maniac Magee, a Newberry Medal Award-winning novel.  The book was written by author, Jerry Spinelli, and deals with the issues of racism and homelessness through the eyes of the book’s protagonist, Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee.  Jeffrey is an orphan who finds himself in the city of Two Mills – a city divided physically in half by Hector Street and divided emotionally in half by racism.  Jeffrey crisscrosses the two halves effortless and shows how one person can have a positive impact in bringing a community together.  The production will be presented for the entire Hazelwood School District community.  Audience and staff members will be invited to further explore the issues raised in the production through small group discussions conducted each month at the school.


Doug Erwin, Fine Arts Content Coordinator for the Ferguson-Florissant School District and recipient of A&E’s 2016 St. Louis Arts Awards Art Educator of the Year, will coordinate an all-district music theater production of “The Wiz” at the Florissant Civic Center.  “The Wiz” won the 1975 Tony Award for “Best Musical” and offers a soulful retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic, “The Wizard of Oz.”  The District’s Maritz grant provides critical funding for this production that will involve over 600 students and faculty from 23 elementary, middle and high school and high schools.  More than 3,000 community members are anticipated to attend the performances. 


Funding from the Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers will fund a partnership between La Salle Middle School and the Center of Creative Arts (COCA – an A&E grantee) to provide expanded performing arts opportunities to fifth through eighth grades.  COCA instructors will offer classes in vocal music performance, West African drumming, and West African dance and choreography.  La Salle Middle School and COCA will offer six, six-week classes each quarter.  To remove barriers to participation, this Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers grant assists the school with offering the classes at no cost and in an after-school setting, removing the challenges of both expense and transportation.


Griscom Public School is an alternative school serving grades 5 – 12 and is located in the St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center.  Currently the school offers no art instruction due to budgetary constraints.  This grant will allow Griscom Public School to partner with Craft Alliance (an A&E grantee) to provide hands-on art instruction in the school three times per week for the duration of the 2016-17 academic year.  Students will receive instruction and opportunities for creative exploration in drawing, painting, textile arts, ceramics and printmaking.  The program will be designed to help these incarcerated young people utilize the arts to envision problems and possible solutions; develop group awareness and how their abilities contribute to the larger community; and encourage responsibility, leadership and improved self-esteem.


Nearly 400 students will benefit from Keeven Elementary School’s purchase of fifteen (15) Orff instruments for use in their music classroom through this Maritz Fund for Teachers grant. German composer, Carl Orff, and a colleague devised a developmental music instruction plan to combine music, speech, drama and movement in a natural and comfortable environment. The Orff Approach utilizes affordable instruments that - when purchased by proceeds from this grant - will serve Keeven Elementary School for many years; ultimately impacting thousands of students over the course of the instruments’ life span. The grant allows students to have hands-on musical experience and advanced training that would be otherwise impossible by just listening to or reading about music.


“I’m not going to pretend like we all have perfect lives, but we’re all here and learning. And there’s a lot of talent – a lot.  Having a place to combine our talent and our stories would be awesome.”  These are the words of a Lift for Life Academy student that prompted the school to partner with St. Lou Fringe to create an after-school Drama Club with the assistance of a Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers grant. The club’s objective is to deliver a high-impact theatre arts program that delivers so much more than acting skills: character building, leadership, creative thinking and a positive, healthy lifestyle via exploration through acting and the telling of participants’ personal stories.  The Drama Club’s efforts and work will culminate in a public performance at the end of the school year.


With the assistance of a Maritz Fund for Teachers grant, the Normandy Fine Arts Department will bring healing and unity to their North St. Louis community by rallying students and audiences around a production of “Dreamgirls: All You Have to Do is Dream.”  The production will be under the leadership of Duane Martin Foster, Drama and Choir Director and recipient of A&E’s 2013 St. Louis Arts Award for Art Educator of the Year.  By presenting a popular – yet poignant – story about dreams, High School students will engage in conversations and discussions that will help them develop more positive and uplifting vision for their futures.


Normandy Schools will provide an outstanding opportunity for students to participate in an after-school percussive arts education project.  “Beating Challenges” will serve seventh and eighth graders with a program that fosters discipline, focus and teamwork while encouraging improved school attendance.  The program will be offered each day that school is in session for the duration of the academic year.  Students will participate in a culminating performance in the spring entitled, “2017 SHOWDOWN: A Drumline Celebration of Difference and Intersection.”


St. Louis College Prep is a school that provides college-track education to low income students in St. Louis City.  The Maritz Fund for Teachers grant will expand the school’s current art offerings to include ceramics and digital photography.  The grant will allow the school to purchase two potter’s wheels, two point-and-shoot cameras, two Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras, a quality photo printer plus necessary supplies and software.  Participating students will display their completed pottery and photography works at the Historic Shaw Art Fair in 2017.  The equipment purchase through this grant will continue to serve students for many years to come.


The Valley Park School District is experiencing a resurgence in band participation.  The program has grown from just 20 students to over 150 students in the past five years and the school needs more instruments to meet the demand.  The District once only offered concert band, but now offer students across multiple grades the opportunity to participate in pep band, marching band and/or jazz band.  Not all students can afford to purchase or rent instruments so this Maritz Fund for Teachers grant will allow the District to purchase new instruments as well as rehearsal materials including music stands and sheet music.