Group poses with certificates

Texas Cultural Trust Awards $26,000 to 10 Teachers Across the State to Implement Innovative Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative

by Texas Cultural Trust

“The Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative transforms fine arts classrooms into a place where students learn important 21st century technological skills,” says Jennifer Ransom Rice, Executive Director of the Texas Cultural Trust.  “Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, Fine Arts is still viewed as a non-essential part of our children’s education. These courses emphasize the impactful role the arts play in technology for all students. High school students leave these classes better prepared for the modern-day workforce while still gaining all of the benefits of arts education – better attendance, better standardized test scores, and higher rates of enrollment in post-graduation education to name a few.”

The 2016 Arts & Digital Literacy Classroom Technology Grantees are:

Dedra K. Espinoza, San Antonio                                                                                  $4,000

NW Campus

Jenna Stephenson, New Braunfels                                                                              $3,000

Canyon High School

Raquel Wiseneke, Fort Worth                                                                                      $2,750

Western Hills High School

Carrie Johnson, Irving                                                                                                  $2,750

Universal Academy LTTS Charter School Irving

Brittany Skillern, Round Rock                                                                                       $2,500

Westwood High School

Jennifer Nowzardan, Austin                                                                                        $2,500

Crockett High School

Brian Cheslik, Austin                                                                                                     $2,500

Texas School for the Deaf

Anna Macias, Austin                                                                                                   $2,000

Lake Travis High School

Laura Castaneda, Brownsville                                                                                      $2,000

Raul Yzagiurre School for Success

Theresa Sneed-Hardy, Dallas                                                                                      $2,000

Pinkston High School

House Bill 5 requires schools teach 21st century learning skills, develop community partnerships, and focus on digital learning. The Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative addresses all of these requirements while keeping students fully engaged in school.  The Trust’s own research shows that students who are enrolled in the arts have up to 15 percent higher pass rates on standardized test scores, are 50 percent less likely to drop out, and have greater rates of enrollment in higher education in Texas than students who are not.  The Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative is based on a combined set of fine arts and technology standards, providing integrated, relevant skills that will prepare students for the 21st century workplace.

The grantees and other Fine Arts teachers will be attending our upcoming professional development Institute, Digital Pioneers, August 1 – 3, 2016 at the AISD Performing Arts Center.  Exciting, hands-on instruction will be offered to high school fine arts teachers interested in meaningfully integrating technology in their classroom using the Arts & Digital Literacy Curricula. An opening reception will feature keynote speaker, Dr. Bob Duke of KUT’s Two Guys on Your Head, on August 1st, 5:00-6:30 pm. Media is invited to attend.

For more information about the Texas Cultural Trust and Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative, visit  To download the curricula for free, visit