Arts experiences are a critical part of a child’s education – cultivating empathy, expanding world views, creating human connections, and enhancing creative problem-solving skills are just a few of the benefits.

Since the Moss Arts Center opened its doors in 2013, it has provided free arts experiences for more than 12,000 children throughout Southwest Virginia. With the current uncertainty of national arts funding, the center is seeking support to help expand its offerings for area students in kindergarten through 12th grades.

Each year, the Moss Arts Center offers special youth matinee performances by prominent touring artists from all over the world, takes artists and educators into schools for hands-on events and residencies, hosts art-making workshops, and exhibits youth art shows in its visual arts galleries. All of these opportunities are provided at no cost to students.

According to the Americans for the Arts, students with an education that includes rich arts experiences have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, as well as lower dropout rates, regardless of socio-economic status. While 90 percent of American adults believe that arts education is important for students, only 61 percent believe that students in their area have adequate access to the arts. In addition, Americans from rural and low-income areas were more likely to cite concerns about access to arts education.

Community organizations, such as the Moss Arts Center, have an opportunity to provide meaningful arts experiences for children to help supplement current and future shortfalls in the classroom. These engagement activities contribute to a level playing field, providing each child with the same chance to become a well-rounded individual.

With the community’s support, the Moss Arts Center can expand its offerings to reach more children through its engagement and outreach programs. A $6 donation can provide an arts experience for one child at the center. The center’s goal is to make 1,000 more of these experiences possible for children during the next school year. Donations can be made online.

This crowdfunding effort is one of the inaugural programs for Jump, Virginia Tech’s official crowdfunding platform designed to bring together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends to maximize impact for supporting university projects that make a difference.