Program Overview

Pro Arts strives to strengthen innovation in arts education. Our goal is to encourage change and growth in the lives of students, teachers and our community through exposure to and meaningful experiences with visual art. Our integrated art curriculum is designed to inspire creative expression, build teamwork skills, encourage experimentation and exploration, cultivate a sense of historical and cultural context, develop aesthetic valuing abilities, and support future success in personal, academic and workplace settings.

With each passing year, Pro Arts continues to respond to the scarcity of arts resources and provide continuity and connectivity to community arts. Our Art Education program is accessible at schools OUSD calls “high stress areas”, districts, 4, 5, and 6. The majority of Oakland youth live in poverty and lack access to service and programs that Youth Arts provides. We facilitate artist residencies in Elementary, Middle and High School public schools in Oakland. We also facilitate:

Teaching Artist Professional Development

In addition to our commitment to early childhood education, Pro Arts provides rigorous professional development for both teaching artists and classroom teachers in order to deepen student learning, create a collaborative learning environment, expose teachers, students and the larger school community to art, and ultimately advocate for STEAM. Teaching artists gain more experience as in-classroom educators and have the opportunity to develop a 12 or 18-week visual art curriculum. Classroom teachers also become more familiar with arts integration as a way of providing new avenues for engagement and understanding of STEAM learning.

Student Engagement 

The Youth Arts program employs 6 teaching artists who engage 914 students, between the ages of 4 and 18 years old (760 elementary students, 114 middle school students, and 40 Youth Fellows) in visual art theory, production and discourse. Participating youth represent traditional under-served populations and reflect the diverse cultural communities in Oakland and our partnering schools. To reflect Oakland’s youth, 75% of our teaching artists represent communities of color.

Examples of Pro Arts’ Visual Art Integration Practice:

Teaching Artist, Paula Hansen at Community United Elementary School

For this lesson plan, Hansen worked with students to create community playgrounds. The focus of this art-making class was for students to exercise their creativity and experiment with unusual materials and everyday objects. Community United Elementary School is among the 12 elementary schools in Oakland in which Pro Arts facilitates in-depth artist residencies throughout the school year.

Teaching Artist, Bre Gipson at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary

For this lesson plan, Bre worked with students to create “slime”. The focus of this art-making class was for students to work collaboratively and experiment with both color and texture. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary is among the 12 elementary schools in Oakland in which Pro Arts facilitates in-depth artist residencies throughout the school year.

Teaching Artist, Sam Weinberg at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary

For this lesson plan, Weinberg worked with students to finalize their graffiti project. Students then participated in “gallery walk” commenting on other students works and providing specific feedback. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary is one of 14 elementary schools in Oakland that Pro Arts provides in-depth artist residencies throughout the school year.