U.S. Department of Justice

Arts Infusion Initiative, 2010-15: Evaluation Report

Publication year: 2015
"In 2010, an ambitious model for social change emerged in Chicago that aimed to connect detained youth and those at risk for incarceration (“at-risk youth”) to rigorous and engaging arts instruction, infused with social and emotional learning goals. Dubbed the Arts Infusion Initiative, the Chicago Community Trust (“the Trust”) spearheaded and funded this five year, $2.5 million demonstration while earning cooperation from the local detention facility, public school system, community policing office, and community arts program leaders to integrate arts programming into youths’ school and after school environments. Since its launch, the Arts Infusion Initiative has served more than 2,000 youth at an average annual cost of $700 per teen, linking them to high performing arts instruction associated with significant increases in social and emotional learning. This report marks the first large-scale evaluation of the Arts Infusion Initiative which was designed to: (1) assess the degree to which the project, as an emergent model for social change, was achieving its intended purposes and (2) generate actionable information for promoting effective Arts Infusion practices while redirecting those that have been less effective" (p. 3). Six chapters comprise this evaluation: introduction; importance of the Arts Infusion Initiative; components of the Arts Infusion Initiative; evaluation methods; seven key findings; and recommendations for promising practices. Two of the key findings are: Arts Infusion youth participants had statistically significant improvements in their social and emotional learning skills; and Arts Infusion programs were successful in "exposing at-risk youth "to new skills and technologies, providing confidence building experiences that opened their minds to a positive future" (p. 5).