is insignificant for most of us on any given day. However, when one and a half trillion drops fall during a typical heavy rainstorm, it usually gets our attention. When those drops of rain join to fill our rivers and streams, as they’ve done to the extreme in 1993, 2015, 2017, and now again in 2019, there can be life-changing effects.

Springboard to Learning strives to be a life-changing force, in a positive way, for under-resourced children. However, like a single drop of rain, the effect can be minimal and possibly insignificant when done in isolation. This past year, Springboard to Learning had the privilege of working as a collective in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and other St. Louis area not-for-profit community organizations to achieve greater, collective community impact. The process began when RAC asked the community how the arts might play a larger role in making St. Louis a better place to live, and heard that arts education plays a primary role. Working with area arts organizations, Springboard to Learning helped identify priorities for improving arts education in our region, concluding
that significant impact can be achieved through the following:

  • Systemic support for Teaching Artists – attracting and maintaining a pool of highly skilled Teaching Artists
  • Advocacy for arts education – making the case for the importance and impact arts education has in the lives of the St. Louis community
  • Centralized resources – information regarding community-wide activities
  • Full public funding – accessible, affordable services
  • Community and school-based programs – arts education in area schools, beginning with our youngest students
  • Equity – access to arts education for all St. Louisans regardless of race or economics

Springboard to Learning demonstrated its commitment to these priorities during the last year, educating local Teaching Artists by implementing the Teaching Artist Institute; joining with other arts organizations across the state to advocate for increased funding for arts education at the annual Arts Advocacy Day in Jefferson City; using the power of its marketing efforts to publicize its programming through newsletters, events, and social media; raising funds to subsidize 100 percent of all programs; putting measures in place to offer arts education programming for children beginning at birth through its Wolf Trap work; and continuing to make the under-resourced and those lacking access to arts education a priority.

However, unlike rain drops, joining forces through collaboration can be difficult for people and organizations even though nature gives us a fine example of the power behind collective work. Despite the challenges we face, I’m optimistic and excited about our future potential. Through a million-dollar gift this year, one major donor and proponent of collaboration, Helen Shopmaker, is positioning Springboard to Learning to think outside the box regarding impact. Stay tuned for the collaborative, life-changing effects that lie ahead.


Cathy Hartmann
Executive Director

(314) 768-9670 ext. 101