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Lenfest Funds Drexel Partnership with ArtistYear to Bring Arts to Underserved Philadelphia Schools

Artist, Harp

June 28, 2016

Visual arts, creative movement and music education will become more accessible to underserved Philadelphia schools this fall when students from Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design enter classrooms as part of the ArtistYear fellowship program. ArtistYear, a national service program that places recent college graduates in local public and charter schools as teaching artists-in-residence, is supported by a grant from H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

Over the next three years, 24 graduating students will receive fellowships through ArtistYear, a program started in 2014 with the mission of bringing arts access and education to under-served youth in America, through an Artist-Citizen Service Year. Fellows spend a year working full-time and receive a national service allowance, living stipend and medical insurance for their commitment. 

"I am very excited about being given the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program for which I feel such strong support,” said, Cassandra Howard, a fellow from Drexel, who will begin her year of service in September. “The ArtistYear fellowship provides an important, and undervalued service to the young people of our community."

Westphal College students will join fellows from the Curtis Institute of Music in the creation of arts programs and classes for several Philadelphia public and charter schools. Through the ArtistYear program, fellows will receive weekly coaching, professional development and collaborative meetings to ensure classes and community arts programs will create a sustainable arts education curriculum for K-12 schools where resources for arts education and programming are limited or unavailable.

“Restricted access to arts programs plague many Philadelphia schools and their students are losing the opportunity to learn and progress through artistic instruction, performance and appreciation,” said Allen Sabinson, dean of Westphal College. “Westphal students now have the opportunity to use their degree, skills and passion for the arts, to inspire these students and give back to the community.”

ArtistYear was founded in 2014 by Margo Drakos and Elizabeth Warshawer in partnership with Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, Service Year and Curtis Institute of Music, to launch the first Artist-Citizen Service Year program. 

“I’m pleased to support the expansion of the ArtistYear Fellowship Program with Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and firmly believe that this investment will help bring arts access and education to under-served Philadelphia school students, while developing professional citizen-artists with deeply engaged community perspectives,’ said Mr. Lenfest. “It is my hope that ArtistYear will partner with other local colleges and universities to grow the number of ArtistYear Fellows in the coming years to serve as many schools as possible in the Philadelphia region.” 

To learn more about ArtistYear go to

Media Contact

Emily Storz