The Right Brain Initiative and Gresham-Barlow School District bring the arts to all elementary students

Public reception and student art opening on April 14th will honor partnership

Portland, Ore – This spring, The Right Brain Initiative celebrates a milestone in its quest for equitable arts education: the Gresham-Barlow School District has become the first to bring the arts program to all elementary students in its district.

A public celebration and exhibition of student work is scheduled for Monday, April 14, 5-6 p.m. at the Gresham Public Library, 385 N.W. Miller Avenue in Gresham. The program will include statements from local leaders, as well as performances and a display of visual art from students who have worked with The Right Brain Initiative.

Superintendent Jim Schlachter said of the Gresham-Barlow School District’s partnership with Right Brain: “The skills of reading, writing, and speaking are brought to life for students when explored and experienced through the arts. When students are engaged, it leads to higher levels of learning.”

School district partners currently invest $15 per child for the program, which covers artist fees and material expenses. Professional development for school staff and on-site coaching are provided through Right Brain’s other public and private sources, which include Multnomah County, the City of Portland, corporations, foundations and individuals.

Bank of America has been one of Right Brain’s top corporate partners since 2010 and is a lead private funder for the Gresham-Barlow School District expansion. Nicole Frisch, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of America in Oregon and southwest Washington said, “As longtime supporters of education and workforce organizations, Bank of America understands the critical role Right Brain plays in helping ensure students are taught to think creatively and critically. Right Brain’s programs not only provide the important arts education our community needs, but support learning in all curriculum areas, including math and writing.”

The Right Brain Initiative partners with school staff to design and implement arts programming that integrates with other areas of the curriculum. These rich experiences are customized to meet the unique needs and learning goals of the students at each school. Right Brain professional development helps teachers learn how to integrate the arts into the classroom on an ongoing basis.

The Right Brain Initiative is a public-private partnership established by the Regional Arts & Culture Council to bring high quality arts education to all children in Portland area public schools. Launched in January of 2009 with 20 school partners, Right Brain now serves 20 percent of the 110,000 K-8 students in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties. This school year a total of 14,000 students in 49 schools from six districts are being served. Other partnering districts are Corbett School District, Hillsboro School District, North Clackamas Schools, Oregon Trail School District and Portland Public Schools. The organization is made up of a sustainable partnership of public schools, local government, foundations, businesses and the cultural community, which launched its effort to bring the arts to every child in the Portland area in January 2009. The program’s vision is to transform learning for all children through the arts, creativity, innovation and whole-brain thinking. The Right Brain Initiative is a project of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, with Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington serving as Implementation Partner. Read more online at

The Regional Arts & Culture Council is the local arts agency for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, providing grants for artists, schools and nonprofit organizations; conducting workplace giving for arts and culture (“Work for Art”) and other advocacy efforts; presenting workshops and other forms of technical assistance; providing printed and web-based resources for artists; and integrating art into public spaces. Online at