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RISCA's school bus program

Big Yellow School Bus Grant Program

Current Status of Program

Funds Available for the 2012-2013 School Year - $20,000

Click link for a list of Big Yellow School Bus Grants awarded in the 2011-2012 school year

Click link for a list of Big Yellow School Bus Grants awarded in the 2010-2011 school year

Click link for a list of Big Yellow School Bus Grants awarded in the 2009-2010 school year



Important Note to Applicants: The Big Yellow School Bus Program is designed to help transport students to performances and exhibitions related to classroom learning and grade span expectations in the arts during the school day. Transportation to competitions or attendance at rehearsals for performances in which the students are participating are not supported by this program.

About the School Bus Grant Program

RISCA's school bus program

One of the consistent things the State Arts Council heard during its recent statewide planning process was concern about the future of arts education in the schools. Serious financial challenges restrict what schools can do, and many schools have reduced or eliminated field trips and out of school learning experiences due to economic necessity.

This is particularly troubling for the arts. The arts have been designated by the Board of Regents as a core subject area in Rhode Island schools, operating at the same level as math and science. While math and science can best be learned in the classroom or laboratory, the arts must be experienced where it exists. RISCA has provided grants to local schools for years to support artist in residence programs, but another significant way that young people learn about the arts is through direct engagement with high-quality art experiences in museums and in the concert hall.

The State Arts Council has decided to designate an initial $20,000 from its federal grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help schools with the cost of hiring buses to transport students to arts and cultural events and programs. This new program, based on successful programs in Iowa and Massachusetts, will help school students attend concerts at the Providence Performing Arts Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium, plays at Trinity Rep and the Gamm Theatre, museum exhibitions at the RISD Museum and the Newport Art Museum, and countless other arts opportunities that are currently unavailable to Rhode Island school students because of lack of funding for buses and coverage for classroom teachers.

Under the terms of this new program, schools can apply for up to $400 per trip, with each school eligible to receive support for one trip per year in order to ensure that as many schools as possible can participate in this program. Applications will be funded until the money runs out, but it is the Arts Council’s intention to evaluate this program and continue to support it – contingent on availability of sufficient funds -- into the foreseeable future.

A particular concern of ours is that field trips to attend arts and cultural events be closely connected to curriculum and Grade Span Expectations (GSE’s) in the arts. Applicants will be required to describe how a supported trip will meet educational standards and curriculum. Funds will go to support buses as well as coverage for classroom teachers, so that educators can accompany students on these educational field trips.

In addition, the State Arts Council feels it is important that our elected officials hear from their community’s schools about the value of educational field trips to attend arts and cultural events. Westrongly suggestthat each applicant to this program inform their local senator and representative about their application for support, and outline in their email or letter to the elected official the educational value they expect to receive from this field trip experience.

Applicants will have access to a webpage with links to a simple application form and contact information for their school district’s state senators and representatives. In addition, applicants will be able to see how much money remains in the program budget, as well as descriptions of other school’s trips to arts and cultural events.

This program is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 25, 2010 with no application deadline. Applicants are required to submit applications at least 45 days in advance of the cultural event or activity. The program is available to Rhode Island K-12 tax-exempt public or private schools with 501c(3) educational status, or a tax-exempt parent-teacher organizations (PTO) associated with a school.