A MINDPOP can be defined as that rewarding experience when everything clicks – in a brief moment elusive knowledge becomes real understanding. In 2009, a group of dedicated Austin educators, philanthropists, parents and civic leaders came together for a collective MINDPOP. They found they all shared the belief that when creativity and the arts are integrated into school lessons, students are more engaged and learning improves. Engagement is key to learning. On this principle MINDPOP was founded and led by Executive Director, Dr. Brent Hasty, the organization set out to expand creative learning in Austin.

Image © 2010 Creative Action

In 2010, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts supported MINDPOP’s work by naming Austin as the 7th city in its Any Given Child Initiative, an effort to ensure Equity, Access and Quality in creative learning opportunities. The Center provided technical assistance to map community needs, employ best practices and develop a long-term strategic plan. The same year, an anonymous donor committed $1,000,000 over 4 years to the Austin Creative Classroom Fund to be managed by MINDPOP. The fund promotes equity by providing grants to high need and high poverty elementary schools and fine arts academies in Austin Independent School District.

In 2011, the AISD board joined the effort and voted to support arts integration and education through the Creative Learning Initiative, the carefully crafted plan, designed and implemented by MINDPOP, to bring creative learning programs to all schools district-wide within 10 years. The same year, the City of Austin incorporated the goals of the Creative Learning Initiative into its 30-year Comprehensive Plan.

Today MINDPOP, working collaboratively with these partners and over 50 non-profit arts providers, is entering the 4th year of the Creative Learning Initiative. We lead efforts to provide creative learning and community arts experiences for students, professional development for educators and ongoing campus coaching in these strategies. In 2015-16, 44 schools, over 2,500 teachers and 32,000 students will participate in the CLI, nearly 40% of the total district population. Thanks to the vision of the MINDPOP founders, attendance and student engagement have increased and students are showing a boost in academic achievement and fewer disciplinary infractions. Our students are better prepared for college and career.

Stay tuned as MINDPOP continues its groundbreaking work in arts education.