Students in courtyard

PAInT Center at USF receives $30,000 donation to promote diversity, equity and inclusion

By Rich Shopes

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


The University of South Florida Foundation has received $30,000 in donations to create a program at the Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) that combines creative learning and classroom instruction with concepts that promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Called the Beeler Scholars’ IDEIL Program, the initiative is named for philanthropists Tom and Carol Beeler of Sarasota, who provided $10,000 to help launch the program. IDEIL stands for Incorporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Leadership.

The Center for PAInT, based at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, will administer the program with assistance from local colleges, arts organizations and public schools, including the Circus Arts Conservatory, Florida Studio Theatre, New College of Florida, the Ringling College of Art and Design, State College of Florida, the Visible Men Academy charter school, the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Booker Promise, a college-readiness initiative at Booker High School in Sarasota.

davis cotton

Denise Davis-Cotton

“The goal of this program is to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community on the Suncoast through the arts, and the Beelers are helping to fund the program,” said Denise Davis-Cotton, director of the Center for PAInT. “This is their initiative.”

In addition to the Beeler family, the program received matching funds from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County – together totaling $20,000 – to help subsidize the launch and the program’s first-year developmental phase.

A “train-the-trainers” program, IDEIL is being designed as an online course for arts organizational leaders, teachers, students and others who, after completing the course, would introduce what they’ve learned to their host organizations. The program’s aim is to unite ideas related to diversity, equity and inclusion with arts-integrated teaching, an instructional method that combines the arts with academics.

Davis-Cotton is developing the program’s curriculum and content with assistance from Bernadette Bennett, a high school social studies program specialist at the Sarasota County School District, and Michael Shelton, former executive director of the nonprofit arts education program Embracing our Differences. Early next year, representatives from the local arts and education communities will provide feedback to fine-tune the course.

“The Beeler program is important to PAInT’s ‘IDEIL philosophy’ because it empowers teaching artists and educators to engage in equity work that strengthens social cohesion, promotes shared values and celebrates the heritage, histories and cultural identities of an inclusive community,” said Davis-Cotton, who is also developing a program at Booker Middle School with the Circus Arts Conservatory to spotlight Black artists’ contributions.

Bennett agreed, saying, “When we began our talks with the Beelers – when they were looking for a program that provides students with the skills and understanding to help them move forward in this diverse world – we thought that by looking at concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion we can help them to understand how these issues affect their lives and who they are and where they are going, so they can become better prepared to deal with these issues within society, as community members and members of the workforce.”

The two said the program’s first year would focus on the creating the course curriculum, content and evaluation process. After that, the course will be offered to arts organizations, colleges, schools and others who may also elect to enroll.

According to the project’s executive summary, “The program will create a collaborative environment where the arts become central to the teaching, learning and embracing of concepts, including:

  • diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • financial literacy and workforce development
  • collaboration, teamwork and social awareness
  • creativity and critical thinking

“The program will offer a self-paced online course, focusing on diversity and culturally relevant arts integration with an emphasis on leadership and life skills,” the summary said. “This course will provide the ability to build university student groups with college-level Beeler Scholars who will meet four times during the year, twice per semester. Additional opportunities will be provided for K-12 Beeler scholars based on assessed needs.”

The Beelers have long supported local arts organizations. They reached out to Davis-Cotton about their idea late last year.

“Given what is happening in our country right now and the need for real dialogue on issues of race, we believe this program will contribute to moving that dialogue forward in a meaningful and respectful way while helping young people to understand more about the world and themselves and to embrace others of different races and backgrounds,” said Carol Beeler. “Tom and I are both very excited and pleased to be working with Dr. Davis-Cotton, Dr. Bennett, Michael Shelton and the other project partners.”

Kirsten Russell, vice president of community impact at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, agreed about the program’s importance and relevancy, adding that the foundation is a strong advocate of both the arts and programs that advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Through their philanthropy, the Beelers are helping to advance conversations that give voices and perspectives of many,” Russell said. “Additionally, their gift creates a framework for leadership so those conversations can grow and evolve over time.”

Kirstin Fulkerson, senior vice president for philanthropy at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, also lauded the Beeler program. 

“This is a wonderful example of how the Beelers dive in and take an active role in their philanthropy,” Fulkerson said. “Tom and Carol really model the concept of ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ and this effort couldn’t come at a more vital time.”

Visit www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu to learn more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.


Related Articles

USF to present free online classes starting Nov. 2 to help hospitality professionals navigate COVID-19 and prepare for its aftermath

USF to present free online classes starting Nov. 2 to help hospitality professionals navigate COVID-19 and prepare for its aftermath

USF honors two at Sarasota-Manatee campus in virtual ceremony

USF honors two at Sarasota-Manatee campus in virtual ceremony

Campus Insider: USF students, Tervis Tumbler president to lead Wednesday discussion about virtual learning, work protocols amid COVID-19

Campus Insider: USF students, Tervis Tumbler president to lead Wednesday discussion about virtual learning, work protocols amid COVID-19

Jean Kabongo appointed USF Muma College of Business campus dean at Sarasota-Manatee campus

Jean Kabongo appointed USF Muma College of Business campus dean at Sarasota-Manatee campus

M3 Center at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus makes global impact on hospitality and tourism industry, academia

M3 Center at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus makes global impact on hospitality and tourism industry, academia

University of South Florida consolidation takes effect July 1

University of South Florida consolidation takes effect July 1

Campus Insider: USF Sarasota-Manatee campus hosts online World Refugee Day celebration

Campus Insider: USF Sarasota-Manatee campus hosts online World Refugee Day celebration

USF Federal Credit Union becomes title sponsor for Brunch on the Bay as new date set for Jan. 24, 2021; Elizabeth Moore to chair 27th Annual Event

USF Federal Credit Union becomes title sponsor for Brunch on the Bay as new date set for Jan. 24, 2021; Elizabeth Moore to chair 27th Annual Event

Online grant-writing workshops at USF draw hundreds of researchers

Online grant-writing workshops at USF draw hundreds of researchers

Explore More News

Follow Us On Instagram