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Sorenson Legacy Foundation Donates $4.5 million to Brigham Young University’s Arts Reaching and Teaching in Schools Partnership

Gift Augments $1.5 Million Endowment to Boost Arts Education

PROVO, Utah ‑ Brigham Young University today announced a new donation of $4.5 million from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation to augment an endowment previously established by Beverley Taylor Sorenson to enhance arts education in Utah’s elementary schools. In 2006, Sorenson established the endowment by her gift to the university of $1.5 million. The gift now brings the endowment to a total of $6 million. Because of Sorenson’s initial gift and her tireless energy through the years to bring arts education to Utah’s elementary students, the endowment has been named in her honor.

The new contribution will enable the Beverley Taylor Sorenson BYU A.R.T.S Partnership (Arts Reaching and Teaching in Schools) to foster arts-related professional development opportunities for BYU’s elementary education majors, elementary school teachers and art specialists throughout Utah and thereby improve the quantity and quality of arts education – including music, dance, theater, visual and media arts – within the BYU-Public School Partnership. Through the BYU-Public School Partnership, the university teams with 120 elementary schools in five school districts that together serve one-third of Utah’s elementary school children. The districts are Alpine, Jordan, Nebo, Provo and Wasatch.

“It has been proven that meaningful engagement in the arts greatly improves a child’s ability to learn and overall quality of life,” said Beverley Taylor Sorenson. “We are delighted to support BYU through its well-established infrastructure to improve the lives and educations of thousands of Utah children.”

In the two years following Sorenson’s initial $1.5 million gift, the BYU partnership provided professional development training to more than 375 teachers and administrators in 46 schools, many of whom participated in more than one of the initiatives listed below. The additional funding will allow the arts program to eventually reach all 120 schools in the BYU-Public School Partnership and develop models for state-wide use.

“We’ve long been impressed with Beverley Sorenson’s vision that every Utah child should receive quality education in the fine arts – her passion is contagious,” said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. “With the existing BYU-Public School Partnership, we had the required infrastructure already in place for such an endeavor. Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Sorenson and her family in establishing the endowment that will bear her name, we now have the means to do our part to make her dream a reality.”

“Thanks to Mrs. Sorenson’s compassion, generations of Utah school children will have more and better opportunities to learn about and participate in the arts,” President Samuelson said.

The Sorenson BYU A.R.T.S Partnership is a joint effort among the David O. McKay School of Education, the College of Health and Human Performance (which houses BYU’s dance program) and the College of Fine Arts and Communications. It will fund and manage the following initiatives, among others:

· An ongoing series of professional development workshops where arts professors help teachers learn how to integrate arts as an enhancement of, rather than a diversion from, subjects such as reading, writing, math, science and social studies

· An annual three-day conference for teachers and administrators focused on improving arts education

· Pairing BYU students majoring in one of the fine arts with current teachers interested in collaborating to improve arts education in their classrooms

· Specialized mentoring for select BYU interns in an art form during their year in the classroom

· Research into the effectiveness of new approaches to arts education

· Collaborating with other Utah institutions of higher education to promote and improve arts education

Sorenson, a Salt Lake native, has for decades been a tireless advocate of arts education for Utah children, dedicating countless hours and substantial resources to this cause. The BYU endowment is part of a 13-year effort by Sorenson and her Art Works for Kids foundation to bring sequential arts education into all Utah elementary schools. Art Works for Kids advocates a research-based side-by-side teaching model, where classroom teachers work closely with art specialists to provide high-quality, integrated arts learning experiences that produce tremendous outcomes, such as enhanced academic learning, social and emotional growth, as well as artistic development.

In spring of 2008, the Utah Legislature passed the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning program. This initiative dedicates $16 million to increase the reach of ongoing quality arts education and opportunities for Utah children.

About Sorenson Legacy Foundation

The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a non-profit corporation established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family for the exclusive purpose of promoting charitable, religious, educational, literary and scientific endeavors. The foundation is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is qualified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Writer: Kimberli Gibson


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