This resource guide is designed to help educators and leaders identify and procure various sources available to fund arts integration initiatives and professional development.  This includes both federal funds through ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015) Title Funds, ARP and ESSER funding, and local sources.

The Case for Funding Arts Integration and STEAM

Arts Integration is an approach to teaching and learning through which content standards are taught and assessed equitably in and through the arts. With over 30 years worth of research, multiple studies have shown arts integration to positively impact student achievement. Key findings in a recent research study conducted by the Wallace Foundation indicate that the average student could go from the 50th to the 54th percentile as the result of arts integration in his or her school¹.


STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process².


With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, federal funds are now available to support the implementation of both arts integration and STEAM in schools through at least 12 sources within the law³.


In the new ESSA law, the arts and music are included in a definition of a “well-rounded education,” which has replaced the current term “core academic subjects.” This term, “well-rounded education,” including the arts and music, is clear throughout the bill, and ensures that federal funds are used to support educational opportunities through a variety of subjects.


Those subjects include English, language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject determined by state or local governments.


The U.S. Department of Education lists the following as being highlights of the ESSA law:

  • Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.
  • Requires that all students be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  • Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.
  • Sustains and expands investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
  • Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in our lower-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.

Having the arts included in the definition of a “well-rounded education” creates eligibility for funding under ESSA, including Title I, II and IV funds and grants. Additionally, the bill includes a new program, Assistance for Arts Education. This replaces the current Arts in Education program. This $20 million grant program will promote arts education for disadvantaged students, by providing professional development for arts teachers, developing arts-based educational programming, and building partnerships to ensure that all students have access to a “well-rounded education,” including the arts.


The bill also includes support to schools that provide a well-rounded education through programs that integrate academic subject areas, including the arts, into STEM. This solidifies the place of STEAM in our schools.


Additionally, if your school is eligible for and/or using ESSA funds, you qualify to use the new ARP/ESSER funding to help keep arts integration and STEAM efforts going during and after the pandemic.

Local Funding Options

When seeking funding for arts integration and STEAM, it’s always best to start with your local sources first. These include the general PD budget, supplemental curriculum budget, and local grants or organization support.

General PD Budget

Start here first! Each school has an allocated PD budget for the year. There may be funds that have not yet been tagged for specific use. These generally turn over on July 1 each year. The embedded PD in the Accelerator would qualify for this budget.

Supplemental Curriculum Budget

Many schools set aside funds for supplemental curriculum materials outside of the adoption cycle. The lessons and resources in the Accelerator should qualify for this supplemental budget.

Local Grants or Organizations

Since the Accelerator has embedded PD, as well as lessons and resources, it can qualify for many grants and Donors Choose projects. Explore options through PTA, local businesses, and smaller grants.

Using ESSER Funds

The American Rescue Plan allocated funds from 2021-2024 for schools to leverage. These are commonly called ESSER funds and there are 3 tiers: ESSER I, ESSER II, AND ESSER III. These are some of the largest monetary grants to schools in history, which provides more opportunities than ever for schools to access the tools, technology, and curriculum they need.


Each tier of funds comes with a set of requirements for their use. Below, you’ll find a list of exactly what and how to use ESSER funds for the arts integration and STEAM support found in the Accelerator.

ESSER I FUNDS: Must be allocated by September 30, 2022.

ESSER I funds can be used to purchase the Accelerator under the following acceptable use cases:

  • Address learning loss through evidence-based interventions
  • Purchasing technology
  • Supporting students in underserved groups

ESSER II FUNDS: Must be allocated by September 30, 2023

ESSER II funds can be used to purchase the Accelerator under the following acceptable use cases:

  • Address learning loss through evidence-based interventions
  • Providing Summer and After-school supplemental programs

ESSER III FUNDS: Must be allocated by September 30, 2024

ESSER III funds can be used to purchase the Accelerator under the following acceptable use cases:

  • Address learning loss through evidence-based interventions
  • Providing Summer and After-school supplemental programs.
  • Addressing SEL needs

You’ll notice that in all cases, there is a deadline for schools to allocate their funding. However, based on several recent surveys, over 50% of schools have not yet allocated all of their ESSER II Funds as of April 2023. And over 75% of schools have not yet allocated their ESSER III funds. So don’t assume that the funding has already been earmarked for other purposes.


Be sure to advocate for using these funds to receive access to the Accelerator for multiple years in order to get the best discount price, along with sustainable access for years to come.

Using ESSA Funding for Arts Integration and STEAM

There are at least 44 different types of Arts Integration efforts which could qualify for funding under ESSA. However, in order to access those funding streams, districts must show evidence that the efforts they propose can improve student outcomes.


We highly suggest leveraging the ArtsEd Search research hub, as well as the What Works Clearinghouse to find the evidence you need to support your requests.


According to the landmark study from the Wallace Foundation, “several components of arts-integration efforts can qualify for ESSA funds, including professional development for teachers, support for English learners, arts integration courses, procurement of instructional materials and broader school-improvement efforts”.


Based on the ESSA law, acceptable evidence falls into one of 3 tiers: Strong, Moderate or Promising.


Tier 1 – Strong Evidence: supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented randomized control experimental studies.


Tier 2 – Moderate Evidence: supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental studies.


Tier 3 – Promising Evidence: supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented correlational studies (with statistical controls for selection bias).


While there are many pieces of evidence to use for your funding applications, this 2017 research study, Using Arts Integration to Make Science Learning Memorable in the Upper Elementary Grades: A Quasi-Experimental Study, falls into the Tier 2 Moderate Evidence category. This particular piece of research aligns with the IAS methodology and approach to arts integration and STEAM.


The following is a table of the recommended Title/ESSA funding streams which could be used to support arts integration and STEAM:

Title IV, Part A:

Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants

Courses or instructional programs that incorporate arts and academic subject instruction to provide students with a well-rounded education.

Additional Funding Sources

If you are not successful in utilizing ESSA funds for arts integration or STEAM efforts, there are a variety of private sources as funding streams.  In addition to local and state level grants, here is a list of other outstanding opportunities:

Fund for Teachers Grant

Description: This grant is specifically designed for K-12 Teachers who need professional development.  These grants are designed by the teacher applicant and can range from $5,000-10,000.

McCarthey Dressman Teacher Development Grants

Description: This is perfect if you’re looking to try out some new teaching strategies, like Arts Integration and STEAM.  These grants are available for up to $10,000/year for up to 3 years. This would be a great chance to apply for those larger learning opportunities, like our Arts Integration Certification Program.

Donors Choose PD Grants

Description: We all love the Donor’s Choose platform for crowdfunding our classroom needs. But did you know that they also offer a way to get your professional development crowdfunded?  You can now create a Professional Development Project and specify what trainings you need, why and how much it costs.  Then put it out there just like you would a regular Donor’s Choose project.

Utilizing the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM (IAS)

Once you’ve identified and procured funding for your arts integration or STEAM initiative, now it’s time to put your plan into action. 

The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM (IAS) has been a worldwide leader in high-quality arts integration and STEAM professional development and resources for over 10 years.  Here’s how we can support you:

Professional Development

We have professional development opportunities for educators at every stage of their arts integration or STEAM journey.  Each of these PD options is available online to provide equitable access to educators from all over the globe. These include:

Let us help you do the heavy lifting.

If you are seeking to use arts integration or STEAM and need help finding funding to support your efforts, let us help! Our funding experts can guide you through which sources can be used to gain access to all of our resources.


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