Denise Davis-Cotton, director of the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT), has been named principal investigator of an $8.5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen arts educational programming in the nation’s educational system.
The award, the largest to a program or individual in the history of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, was announced in October 2021.
With five years of federal funding, the “Race, Equity, Arts and Cultural History (REACH)” project will establish a replicable model to enhance student engagement and achievement by incorporating arts-based education into U.S. schools that focuses on cultural history, race and equity.
Davis-Cotton, who has leveraged community partnerships across Florida to develop innovative art-based programming, will work with multiple South Florida and national partners, including the Arts Schools Network (ASN) and the Education Development Research Institute (ERDI), to collaboratively create arts-based materials and programming as well as train superintendents and curriculum directors. Davis-Cotton formerly served as a board member and past president of ASN, a collective group of national arts leaders, thought partners and contributors to the arts.
“Dr. Davis-Cotton is continually creating ways to elevate the public discourse around issues of equity and inclusion,” said USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor, Karen Holbrook. “It was amazing to receive the news about this grant, but not unexpected given her leadership to advance teacher proficiency and help young students become high academic achievers through the arts.”
Participating REACH schools will be represented by traditional public schools, magnet schools and charter schools in urban and rural settings. Model schools where REACH will be implemented include the William Monroe Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication elementary and middle schools in Bradenton, the Chicago-based Arts In Motion schools, and the West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics.