Urban Gateways Partners with Chicago Corporate Leaders to Launch “Arts-Wired” Schools

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Jenner & Block and Fifth Third Bank Adopt Schools to Prepare Students for the 21st Century

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education is pleased to announce the official launch of the Urban Gateways Arts-Wired Program, a whole-school change model which infuses the arts into struggling schools to transform them into high-quality hubs of learning with the support of corporate partners.

Urban Gateways, Chicago’s oldest and largest arts education organization, recognizes the unparalleled impact of arts learning on a school culture and is partnering with like-minded Chicago-area schools and business leaders to transform schools in need.

How does the Arts-Wired Program work? A business partner adopts a Chicago-area school for a period of four years, during which Urban Gateways delivers in-depth, customized arts programming. Just as a school which is “wired” for technology raises the possibility for success in any educational environment, Urban Gateways will infuse four key components of arts learning into Arts-Wired Schools, in order to increase the academic achievement levels for all students. That arts programming includes:

  • Artist Residencies, which bring professional artists into the classroom – before, during and after school – to provide students with high quality arts experiences that offer enrichment, inspiration and engagement for all types of learners.
  • Professional Development for teaching staff, certified arts specialists and administrators that expands their knowledge of the arts and teaches them how to build the arts into their teaching strategies and curricula;
  • Exposure to high quality performing arts and cultural experiences through Urban Gateways’ touring and matinee performances in dance, music and theatre; and
  • Out-of-school opportunities, such as workshops, classes, and special events for students parents and neighborhood residents that embed arts learning into a larger community development context.

The first two business leaders to fund or “adopt” an Arts-Wired School are Jenner & Block and Fifth Third Bank, which have adopted Fairfield Academy (6201 South Fairfield, Chicago) and Roosevelt Middle School (2500 Oak Street, Bellwood), respectively.

“Student involvement in the arts has been proven to contribute to improved academic achievement, decreased drop-out rates, and increased self-esteem and responsibility in youth,” said Urban Gateways Executive Director Julie F. Simpson. “An Arts-Wired School can provide children with an environment to exercise their voice and develop the self confidence and leadership skills necessary to become catalysts of change in their schools, communities and the world around them.”

Local businesses were a natural partner for this project, since they have a vested interest in preparing the next generation for the workforce. “It is a privilege to bring the Urban Gateways Arts-Wired Program to Roosevelt Middle School,” said Chip Reeves, Fifth Third Bank Chicago Market President. “Fifth Third Bank’s commitment to building strong communities begins with a quality education for children to give them the best possible start in life. We are proud to play a role in making this innovative program a success.”

The Arts-Wired Program has also provided a way for businesses to encourage their employees to further support their community. Jenner & Block lawyers and staff for many years have supported Fairfield Academy through weekly tutoring sessions and other programs, as well as with financial and technology support. The firm challenged its personnel to raise half of the $30K goal it needed in order to bring the Arts-Wired program to Fairfield, with Jenner & Block providing the rest of the funds. The response to this challenge from across the firm was overwhelming, with more than $22K raised.

“The arts are an important part of a robust education that every child deserves and we’re proud to help bring this innovative program to Fairfield Academy,” said Jenner & Block Chairman Anton R. Valukas, who has spearheaded the Jenner & Block’s firm-wide support of Fairfield. “The Arts-Wired curriculum will help Fairfield students to grow academically in all subjects, bolster their confidence and broaden their horizons.”

Urban Gateways’ first Arts-Wired Schools, Fairfield Academy and Roosevelt Middle School, were launched this past spring. It is anticipated that they will be receiving the full complement of services within the first nine months of operation.

To learn more about Urban Gateways’ Arts-Wired Program or to request an interview with constituents from Urban Gateways, the schools, or the corporate partners, please contact Becky Schneck Allen, Urban Gateways Marketing & Communications Manager, at 312.445.2749 or bschneckallen@urbangateways.com


Urban Gateways Urban Gateways is one of the largest and most comprehensive arts education organizations in the country and a recipient of the White House’s “Medal of Arts.” For more than 48 years, Urban Gateways has brought the arts into the lives of millions of disadvantaged children in Chicago. We fulfill our mission – to ignite the creative potential of all young people – by providing high-quality, customized programming before, during and after school to more than 100,000 Chicago-area youth each year in the areas of literary, media, performing and visual arts. For more information, please visit: www.urbangateways.org.

Jenner & Block Jenner & Block is a national law firm with approximately 470 attorneys and offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. Founded in 1914, the Firm has grown and prospered because of an unwavering commitment to our clients, to the Bar, to our people and to public service. Jenner & Block has been widely recognized for consistently delivering excellent legal representation in the courtroom and the boardroom. The Firm has also traditionally served as a leader in public service and pro bono advocacy, having been consistently ranked as one of the top ten pro bono firms in the country by The American Lawyer magazine. In 2009, The American Lawyer recognized Jenner & Block as the number one law firm in the country for pro bono service for the second year in a row.

Fifth Third Bank Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Company has $113 billion in assets, operates 16 affiliates with 1,309 full-service Banking Centers, including 102 Bank Mart® locations open seven days a week inside select grocery stores and 2,366 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Investment Advisors. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of March 31, 2010, had $190 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $25 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com.