In honor of the annual April observance of National Arts Advocacy, the Center for Arts & Education at West Liberty celebrated all month long its accomplishment of raising $1 million in funds from its efforts over the past two years (July 2011-April 2013).  cae-wlu-logo-noweb

The money raised has been from a combination of private partnerships and donor gifts, with significant support from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and will be applied to programs aimed at expanding curriculum development and fostering economic development.

“This is an unprecedented success to obtain funds of this amount through indirect and direct grants,” said Lou Karas, director of the Center for Arts & Education. “Our goal is to build and maximize the center’s public-private partnerships to not only expand upon curriculum offered at WLU by integrating the arts in all classrooms, but to also expand students’ exposure to the strategic, private-sector partnerships we have built.”

“As a direct result of these funds we’ve garnered and programs we’ve launched, we’ve seen a continued increase in student applications and student enrollment in our Colleges of Education, and our College of Arts and Communication,” said Keely Camden, dean of the College of Education. “Additionally, our current students are the best ambassadors of the incredible programs being conducted here. Where else do Education majors have the opportunity to receive training from Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab in robotics and tour and study at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, to name just a few of the many opportunities the collaborative work the center makes possible.”

Additionally, both the University’s College of Education and College of Arts & Communication have experienced a 30 percent increase in student applications as a direct result of the Center for Arts & Education’s vision and approach, according to Karas.

“Through our strategic plan of bridging the gap between these organizations and the Center for Arts & Education, we are integrating the arts into not only our schools, but also within our communities. We are able to take a front-seat, hands-on and proactive approach to learn how these organizations in larger cities — such as Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. — are using the arts as an economic development and urban revitalization tool that the Center for Arts & Education can apply and set the stage for right here in the Ohio Valley. We always look forward to fostering new opportunities and relationships within the arts and business community in order to bolster relations between educational and private sector settings — utilizing creativity, advocacy and education as our founding principles,” Karas added.

The Center for Arts and Education is the collaborative effort of the Appalachian Education Initiative and West Liberty University’s College of Education and College of Arts and Communication. Karas is a faculty member in the College of Education and teaches graduate courses throughout the year and courses in community education during the summer. Special topic summer courses in arts and technology integration are also offered.