The Art Institute of Tampa Gives Back, Supporting the Arts in Local Schools

By: Georgia Schumacher

March 17, 2017

Over 15 million US students don’t have the resources they need to succeed in school, reports nonprofit organization Adopt-A-Classroom. With school funding failing to meet their needs, K-12 teachers across the country spend more than $1.6 billion each year to stock their own classrooms. 

“I’ve noticed, as an educator and teacher for many years, often times we don’t even think about it. We just buy what we need,” said Maria Swanson, Assistant Director of Admissions at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design.

Quite frequently, the arts and art education are the areas hardest hit by school budget cuts. Yet, for many high school students, these courses are not only among their favorite, they’re also valuable to their development. “There is research that states the wiring of the brain is enhanced when you have opportunities to read music, to explore your creativity,” explained Swanson.

To support these students and their teachers, The Art Institute of Tampa has partnered with Adopt-A-Classroom to give back to Tampa public schools. The university donated money to assist educators in four neighboring high schools, with each school receiving a $500 grant to buy art supplies for their classrooms. 

To talk about this partnership, Swanson appeared on Tampa Cox Media Group’s Sunday Morning radio show last month. “You’re given a limited budget and you’re going to get the basics. You’re going to make sure you have paper and paints and colored pencils and markers and things like that. However, if you want to do anything inventive or exploratory, you have to wonder where you are going to be able to get that from,” Swanson explained to the show host, speaking with experience as a former high school administrator.

“Being an art school ourselves, we're going to do anything we can to help promote the arts at the public school level,” said Swanson, who, in her role at The Art Institute of Tampa, regularly speaks with high school students about their experience in the arts. “So many of them mention how limited their offerings were or just not having a lot of resources. When Adopt-A-Classroom partnered with us and we had an opportunity to actually give money back to the schools, we figured why not go right to the art classrooms. Why not go to some of our high schools that are right in own backyards and help?”

Through Adopt-A-Classroom, The Art Institute of Tampa’s donations were given to East Bay High School in Hillsborough County, Pinellas Park High School in Pinellas County, Gulf High School in Pasco County, and Ridge Community High School in Polk County. A luncheon and creative classroom workshop was held on campus on February 8, 2017 for teachers and students from the local schools. The artwork produced at the event is being donated to a local children’s hospital.

During the radio interview, Swanson also discussed how The Art Institutes of Tampa’s programs can help students prepare for creative careers, the role of technology in creative careers, and the variety of events and courses the college offers to high school students interested in the creative arts. For more information, listen to the full radio interview or see how you can help at

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By: Georgia Schumacher

March 17, 2017