Founded in 1999 by legendary American singer and painter Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, ETA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving public high schools throughout New York City and Los Angeles.
The mission of Exploring the Arts (ETA) is to transform the lives of young people through arts education. At the heart of ETA's work is a vision to provide greater equality of resources and opportunity in the arts to traditionally under-served teens, both in and outside of school.
ETA PARTNER SCHOOLS: ETA programs serve predominantly Title 1, public high schools throughout New York City and Los Angeles (two of the nation's largest school districts) and leverages a deep roster of largely nonprofit arts and cultural partners.
ETA's 4-YEAR PLAN: Through its core, capacity-building initiative, ETA provides strategic planning, funding, and assessment support over the course of four years to help principals and teachers build rigorous, school-day arts programs and curricula that lead to measurable improvements in student learning, student engagement, and program sustainability.
ETA's LANG ARTS SCHOLARS and ARTS INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS: Through these two, out-of-school programs, ETA provides select students from ETA Partner Schools with training in their craft, internship placements, mentoring, and post-secondary preparatory services during after-school, weekend, and summer hours.
ETA's leadership and program staff leverage their own professional expertise as artists, educators, and nonprofit administrators and share best practices honed from years working with public schools and arts partners. The organization's work is also made possible by its robust and healthy budget, diverse funding sources, and sound management practices.
The organization's assessment practice includes the use of pre- and post-program surveys, the collection of written progress reports, and staff observations documented at site visits and meetings. ETA collects both qualitative and quantitative data through these methods.
A sample of indicators of success across its various programs include:
- increased student engagement (measured by attendance, enrollment rates, and active participation)
- students acquire new skill and knowledge (evidenced by class pass rates and credit accumulation, portfolio reviews, exhibitions and performance of work)
- schools are able to sustain their arts programs (evidenced by documented curricula, changes made to the programming of class schedules, staff hiring, changes to budgeting practices, an investment in equipment and facility upgrades)
- students are prepared for college and career pathways in the arts (students ready portfolio and audition materials, can identify jobs in the arts, etc).
- ETA led a successful capital campaign to help support the construction of a new building for Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, which opened in 2009.
- ETA has incrementally grown its roster of Partner Schools from just one to a total of 38 to date: 27 in New York City, one on Long Island, and 10 in Los Angeles.
- Since it launched in 2006, ETA's Arts Internship Program has served over 800 teens to date.
- ETA's 4-Year Plan has already graduated one cohort of 13 Partner Schools in NYC and three in Los Angeles, with newer cohorts poised to complete the program in upcoming years.
- In 2019, ETA will launch its new Lang Arts Scholars program thanks to a major funding award from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation.
- ETA has built a diverse roster of government, foundation, and corporate funders, including the National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Annenberg Foundation, The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, Macy's, and Harbor Freight Tools.