Corporate support makes significant local impact through UMS’s K-12 arts education programming.

UMS — the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan — is widely recognized as a global leading arts presenter with a long and storied history of bringing the world’s best and most innovative performing artists from around the globe to southeast Michigan.

What is less well known about the 139 year-old organization is the more than 300 education and community engagement activities that engage audiences off the stage each year. UMS is committed to ensuring audiences of all ages have access to transformative performing arts experiences — especially K-12 students from under-resourced schools and underserved communities who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience the power of a live performance. UMS School Day performances represent a range of cultural traditions and celebrate the diversity of the students that attend. For some, attending a UMS School Day Performance is the first time they visit U-M’s campus.

UMS’s commitment to reaching students of all backgrounds is shared by many in our community, including corporations who value enriching young minds through access to the arts. The many educational programs at UMS wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from four companies in particular.

Ford Motor Company Fund

As the first and most generous corporate partner, the Ford Motor Company Fund launched UMS’s arts K-12 educational programming in 1996 with a leadership gift. Since then, they have invested more than $3.3 million in UMS’s K-12 education programs.

“Our mission is to improve people’s lives and advance social mobility through innovation and access to transformational opportunities,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Our support for education and programs such as UMS provide young people with unique experiences in music and the arts, inspiring a new look at the world around them and the future possibilities that are within their grasp.”

Recognizing the significant resources needed to design and offer these extensive world-class programs, Ford’s annual investment is leveraged to raise additional fund through an annual spring gala called Ovation.  Scheduled for May 5, 2018, this year’s Ovation will combine a fun social event with creative arts elements in a unique new venue. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are available.

“The quality of the work that is done in collaboration with UMS is far more than just go and see a show and let’s talk about it…It’s in-depth learning. It’s cross-cultural. It’s cross-curricular.”

Michelle PeetTeacher, Early College Alliance, Eastern Michigan University

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DTE Energy Foundation

The DTE Energy Foundation helps UMS shine a light on excellence in arts education by sponsoring the DTE Energy Foundation Educator and School of the Year Awards. Now in its tenth year, the partnership has helped UMS share learnings and best practices with the larger educational community, inspiring area educators to seek new and creative ways to provide arts infused educational experiences that inspire and motivate young people.

Additionally, an open nomination process has enabled UMS to cultivate new relationships with teachers and school communities, helping to grow a network of leading practitioners and arts educators.  A video interview with the award winners and their students each year showcases the positive impact creative arts experiences have.

In addition to the award recognition, teachers and their students have the opportunity to attend a UMS School Day Performance the following season, and connect personally with the visiting artists through a school visit.

PNC Foundation

Since 2011, PNC Foundation has helped support UMS’s robust teacher training programs and online learning guides, providing local educators with the tools and resources they need to create dynamic, arts-infused lessons. In 2016, UMS worked closely with the Ann Arbor Public Schools to align its professional development programs with one of the districts’ greatest priorities — early literacy, a focus which is continuing in the current academic year.

Four workshops with national teaching artists provided training for teachers of students in grades K-3 on using the art of storytelling to support early literacy. Workshop leaders also worked with 23 teachers to give demonstration lessons directly in their classrooms. More than half of the educators who participated teach in Title I schools, where more than 50% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

“PNC’s strong support of UMS reflects our commitment to enhance the communities we serve throughout our corporate footprint,” said PNC Regional President Ric DeVore.  “As a Main Street bank, we focus our outreach efforts on early childhood education and economic development, which includes arts and culture.  UMS is a particularly good fit for PNC because of its ongoing efforts to bring arts education to underserved children in Southeast Michigan.”

University of Michigan Credit Union

In the Fall of 2016, the University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU) invested $1.5 million to establish the University of Michigan Credit Union Arts Adventures Program at UMS and UMMA to ensure access to extraordinary arts experiences and exceptional learning opportunities for students and families.

As the first corporate endowment at either organization, UMCU’s investment is particularly unique in that it ensures a guaranteed stream of funding to support student programs for generations to come. A portion of the income from the endowment is allowing UMS to offer both ticket and transportation subsidies to students from underserved schools for the first time.

Thanks to the UMCU Arts Adventures Program, in 2016-17 UMS provided 312 free tickets and over $2,700 in bus grants to K-12 students from eight underserved schools in Ann Arbor, East Detroit, Southfield, Southgate, and Ypsilanti — students who otherwise would not have been able to visit U-M’s campus for a UMS school day performance.

A Unique Field Trip

At the heart of UMS’s K-12 programs is a series of one-hour school day performances that draw K-12 students from across a five county area in southeast Michigan, including Detroit. Free, UMS-designed online learning guides help teachers integrate the mainstage performance into what their students are learning in the classroom. And UMS offers free in-class workshops, both before and after the performances, where UMS teaching artists engage students in creative, hands-on learning activities that extend their mainstage performance experience and give them a chance to explore and practice an art form in more depth — all connected to what they’re learning in the classroom.

Teacher Training

Recognizing that one teacher impacts the lives of hundreds of students, UMS offers a series of professional development workshops that are aligned with local school district learning priorities. UMS partners with national teaching artists from the Kennedy Center to give teachers creative tools and strategies to integrate the arts into their classroom curriculum in ways that inspire and motivate students.

At UMS, we hear from visiting artists all the time about how much they love coming to Ann Arbor — not only for the opportunity to perform before enthusiastic audiences, but also for the ways we engage young audiences off the stage. This is especially true for our K-12 programming. We see first-hand the energy and joy that students bring to our School Day Performances. And we know from teachers that those live experiences, coupled with creative learning activities back at school, really do inspire and motivate their students, engaging young imaginations and expanding their capacity to innovate and embrace new ideas. And we know that these experiences seed future possibilities for many. We're thrilled to have the support of generous corporate partners who value arts education as much as we do, and make it possible for UMS to extend these extraordinary learning opportunities – especially for students from under-resourced schools.

Matthew VanBesienPresident, UMS