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AAE Arts Connect Program

The Arts Connect program is in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and is funded by the Assistance for Arts Education program through the U.S. Department of Education. The program is a four-year research project promotes arts education for students through activities such as (a) professional development for arts educators, teachers, and principals; (b) development and dissemination of accessible instructional materials and arts-based educational programming, including online resources, in multiple arts disciplines; and (c) community and national outreach activities that strengthen and expand partnerships among schools, local educational agencies , communities, or centers for the arts.  We selected three elementary schools: Oakland Academy of Knowledge, Bridges Academy at Melrose, and Laurel Elementary. During a six-month engagement, all students at each site receive weekly 50-minutes hands-on visual and poetry art lessons with a MOCHA Teaching Artist and classroom teacher. Classroom teachers receive professional development during our Summer Art Institute and at their school sites throughout the year.


The Arts Connect program encompasses an interdisciplinary approach to support Oakland schools by focusing on community learning that combines art integration, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Community Resiliency Model (CRM), and educational equity. MOCHA's method of teaching visual & poetry arts acts to build a bridge between students' diverse abilities, language background, experiences, and learning styles. We connect our practice to learning goals, core curriculum, and expression and literacy development that include poetry and reflection.

Check out our Pop-Up Sensory Poetry Book Art Lesson

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  • Students and teachers develop visual and poetry art skills

  • Teachers will develop arts integration skills that connect with multiple subjects

  • Demonstrate how high-quality arts instruction necessarily embodies SEL frameworks and learning strategies

  • Share and grow arts learning in local, regional, and state contexts

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​It is critical for children to develop a positive perspective of themselves, while feeling that they are a valued and respected member of a family and community. From birth, children develop an awareness of who they are and when children feel a sense of belonging and pride in their families, their peers, and their communities, they can be emotionally strong, self-assure, and more resilient.

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