Illinois Art Station’s Itsy Studio Receives Grant to Set Up Early Childhood Arts Education Program – News


Illinois Art Station at Illinois State University announced a $ 45,000 PNC Foundation grant to benefit Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for the State of Illinois which provides funds for the Illinois Art Station Itsy Studio: in the community program. The grant money, which is part of PNC’s Grow Up Great® program, will be distributed to the program over two years. Illinois Art Station is a collaboration between the Illinois State College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Fine Arts.

Itsy Studio: in the community was inspired by artist residencies in public schools in New York, Chicago and California. The Itsy Studio program is designed to help children:

  1. Develop and improve socio-emotional learning skills, as well as creative and critical thinking skills and habits.
  2. Recognize and communicate emotions through transformative and hands-on weekly visual art lessons.
  3. Observe, solve, think, communicate and think like an artist.

The program enables an artist specializing in early childhood education and graduate students from the School of Art at Illinois State University to teach children ages three to five at Heartland Head Start and Sarah E. Raymond School of Early Education. Itsy Studio aims to reach over 600 students at both sites after two years.

Seventy-nine percent of the 340 students at Sarah E. Raymond School of Early Education are eligible for the District 87 Free and Discounted Meals Program, and 100 percent of students in Sarah Raymond’s Preschool for All program are eligible for early childhood education in accordance with Illinois state guidelines.

“We are already working to meet the needs of our students with a curriculum focused on their socio-emotional development. We see the Itsy program as a great complement and reinforcement of our current model, ”said Danel Behrends-Harr, Principal of the Sarah E. Raymond Preschool School.

One hundred percent of Heartland Head Start’s student body meet federal income eligibility criteria and 18 percent are bilingual. “The new initiative will provide our students with benefits that they would not otherwise have been able to access,” said Mary Lou Nelson, Child and Family Services Specialist for Heartland Head Start.

“Research shows that children who participate in high quality preschool programs are more likely to succeed in school and contribute to society later in life,” said Jenna Cicciarelli Wiesner, PNC vice president , Director of Customer and Community Relations for Central Illinois. “The Itsy Studio at Illinois Art Station was a great fit for a Grow Tall grant, as it will increase children’s access to high-quality educational opportunities from an early age.”

Not only will the grant allow Itsy Studio to reach out to students in the area, but it will also create a new position at the Illinois Art Station: an early childhood educational artist. This position will teach all students of the Itsy Studio program and also lead professional development workshops to enrich and develop sustainable visual art practices in the classroom.

The Itsy Studio also provides an environment for academic research in early childhood development and psychology. Julie Campbell, assistant professor of psychology at Illinois State plans to study the relationship between children’s preference for hands and fine motor skills. “This information can be used to explore other research questions that examine the link between fine motor skills and other cognitive abilities, such as language,” Campbell said.

The PNC Foundation, which receives its main funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of the communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes arts and culture. Through Grandir Grand, its flagship cause that began in 2004, PNC created a multi-year, bilingual, $ 500 million initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 to succeed in school and in the world. life.

Support during the Redbirds Rising campaign promotes scholarship, leadership and innovation in the state of Illinois. To learn more about the Illinois Art Station, visit To follow the success of the Redbirds Rising campaign and contribute today, visit

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