Heidelberg Project's arts education program to expand for 2018-2019 academic year

Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Awards $25,000 Grant to Engage New Schools and Students in Heidelberg Arts Leadership Academy

DETROIT — The Heidelberg Arts Leadership Academy (HALA), a free arts education program that empowers and inspires Detroit students to be change agents, has received a $25,000 investment from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation to expand for the 2018-2019 academic year. 

HALA serves Detroit students in grades 4-12 to explore art as a tool for social change, self-expression and community healing. HALA, launched by the Heidelberg Project in 2018, served over 100 students at Martin Luther King High School, Southeastern High School, Marcus Garvey Academy and Cesar Chavez Academy East during the 2017-2018 school year. 

 “The Heidelberg Arts Leadership Academy is a critical investment in Detroit students. It’s an experience that enriches the lives of young people in Detroit,” said Virginia Romano, Executive Director of the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation. 

HALA is comprised of three, nine-week sessions of in-school or after school classes that connect students to a network of Detroit-based and national resources that include artists, organizers, entrepreneurs, and tech innovators to cultivate student potential and help build leadership skills. 

Students collaborate with a local muralist to create a school-based mural that highlights issues in the local neighborhood or school community through the Art Speaks: Mural Project, one of HALA’s three class offerings. The 2017-2018 classes visited 11 Detroit area murals and met with Heidelberg Project founder Tyree Guyton as part of the course. 

The Writes of Passage class challenges students to report and write about social change within their community, culminating in the creation of a zine of editorial poems, short stories, drawings and photography.

Art Through Hip-Hop explores album covers as a tool for social change and artistic expression, with students creating their own album cover to document their life experiences and personal stories. 

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to inspire more students through the HALA program for the 2018-2019 school year,” said Heidelberg Project President and CEO Jenenne Whitfield. “We thank the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation for recognizing how important our work is to young people in Detroit and the power of art as a catalyst for community change.”

The HALA program was co-founded and designed by three women that specialize in classroom education and programming, curriculum design, arts advocacy and community partnerships. For summer 2019, HALA will launch two inaugural summer programs, the HALA summer day camp serving grades 2nd through 5th, while the study abroad cultural immersion program will engage 10 students in 10th and 11th grade. The first destination will be Ghana, West Africa.