Through the experimentation and hard work of Arts for Academic Achievement over many years in Minneapolis Public Schools, several programs have been identified as high-impact for our students. These research-based programs are proven to increase student academic achievement and engagement using arts integration as an innovative learning intervention in Minneapolis and other school systems are available district-wide.  We are continually working to identify and develop partnerships with the community to offer meaningful programming across the district.


Co-Mission is a partnership between local business leaders and Minneapolis Public Schools that engages students in the process of creating a commissioned piece of artwork. Students learn the professional practices required of working as a commissioned artist such as planning, studio techniques, and project completion. A professional artist from the Twin Cities works with the students and teacher as a mentor during this project. The contribution from each partner company fully supports the project including the professional artist residency, materials, and equipment.

Our first partnership began with Norwest Equity Partners (NEP) in the fall of 2014.  

During the 2017-18 school year, Edison High School Visual Art instructor Rachel Hoemke and her students will have the opportunity to work with glass artist and local Potekglass owner Malcom Potek to create an orinal work of glass art that will be displayed in NEP’s offices on the 36th floor of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis. Norwest Equity Partners intends to continue this partnership by reaching all MPS high schools.

MPS Arts is also be partnering with Minneapolis Foundation for the 2017-18 school year. Wellstone International High School visual art instructor Linda Radius and her students will work with Saori weaving artist Chiaki O'Brien. Wellstone students will learn the unique techniques of Saori weaving and create original works of textile art to be displayed at the Minneapolis Foundation offices on the 8th gloor or the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis.  

MPS Arts is extremely grateful to have support from NEP  and Minneapolis Foundation. We look forward to working with them and other local firms in the upcoming years.

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Previous Co-Mission Projects:

School Year 2014-15: Supported by NEP, Roosevelt HS Visual Arts Specialist Jaci Smolund and her two beginning drawing classes collaborated with artist Greta McLain to create two large pieces of multimedia work.

School Year 2015-16: Supported by NEP, Henry HS Visual Arts Specialist Andrea Rose and her students worked with Drew Peterson to create an original work through the process of printmaking.

School Year 2016-17: Supported by NEP, North Community HS Visual Art Specialist Lindsey McNown and her students worked with Northern Clay Center and  Elizabeth Coleman to create original ceramic work. Also supported by RJM Construction, South HS Art Specialist Corbin Doty and his students worked with Wing Young Huie, to learn in the process of creating original photographs.

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Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a program that uses art to teach thinking, communication skills, and visual literacy. VTS produces growth in visual literacy and verbal and thinking skills, from non-English language learners to high achievers. VTS meets state standards in art, language and social studies and improves test scores in reading and writing. VTS is embedded in our Cultural Experiences Partnership with the Minneapols Institute of Arts. 

Upstream Arts works with students with disabilities by fostering creative communications and social independence through the power of arts education. Drawing on research and best practices, their unique arts-based approach to addressing social deficits common in individuals with a variety of disabilities is aligned with MPS standards and assessment tools.

H-Art - The H-Art (Hands on Art) program at South High School has been a long standing program of Minneapolis Public Schools. Its success has spanned over 20 years and currently consists of partnerships between South and three primary arts organizations: Illusion Theater, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.  The team also currently works with two additional independent teaching artists; and an independent arts education coach/consultant.  H-Art provides a way for students who are behind in credit create a path to graduation. Community arts partners and H-Art teachers develop and co-teach a daily two-hour class that employs the use of performing arts, book-making, and community parade-building to deepen student engagement and learning and help students earn the credits needed to graduate.

Connect - Roosevelt HS - more info coming soon!

Hip Hop Elements - South HS - Funded by MSAB - Hip hop poet and performer and activist Tish Jones, and dancer J-sun Noer, collaborated with Minneapolis Public Schools South High teachers Erin Brown (dance) and Sharon Rush (literacy) and approximately 80 students to create and perform original dance and poetry pieces.

This project kicked off with a series of professional development sessions for teachers at South High. The following week Tish Jones visited South High for four days, teaching four different classes in Erin Brown’s dance classroom, including some of the students from Sharon Rush’s literacy classes. Students spent the week listening to hip hop music and analyzing its structures and lyrics. They learned some basic history about hip hop as an art form and expression of culture and social justice in the United States. They also all had a chance to write their own poems—poems that some would later transform into performance pieces for the stage. Jason Noer, a hip hop dancer, visited the dance classroom for several sessions between Oct. 27 and Nov. 17 to show students some hip hop moves and help them develop original dance pieces to perform for the stage. Some students worked individually and others worked in small groups. In between these artist visits, students worked with their dance teacher to refine their dance and performance pieces. The project culminated in a final evening performance for the South High community. All students participated in some way in this event as poets, dancers, ushers, emcees, stage managers, or ushers.

This project gave students and participating teachers an opportunity to experience hip hop music and dance and poetry in a social/historical context with professional artists in the genre. Everyone involved, even the artists, were able to experiment with new ways to integrate dance and poetry. All students had access to quality resources and had time to make and perform original poetry and dance. The teachers who participated in the professional development or the residency itself were also able to learn about hip hop history and culture and understand better how to access it as an art form that they can use in future projects and assignments, thereby helping them more effectively incorporate their students’ lived experience beyond the school walls.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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Ongoing Partnerships

MPS Arts maintains ongoing partnerships with the following programs - however specific work has not been scheduled for SY16.

Tableau is a theater-based technique used across curricular areas. Artists and teachers work with students to enact stories building comprehension, visualization, problem solving, creative writing and classroom engagement skills. Watch this video to learn more.

Community Design Group works with 5th grade students from Emerson School to envision and re-envision Hennepin Avenue from the Mississippi River to the Walker Art Center by developing, leading and facilitating academic activities that further students' understanding of design, urban planning, mapping and technology while exploring the roles that the built environment plays in shaping our everyday lives and the culture of our cities and urban environment.