Local Charter School Awarded Grant to Integrate Arts and Criminal Justice Reform

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Harding Fine Arts Academy (HFAA) was recently awarded $29,000 in grant funding by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support integrating arts with criminal and social justice reform for the benefit of the students, teachers, families, and surrounding Oklahoma City community. HFAA was only one of five awardees in the state of Oklahoma and only one of two in the Oklahoma City area.  

This funding will allow students to explore the topic of criminal justice reform through literature, visual arts, dance, music and drama as well as provide a three-day conference “Mercy & Justice: Social and Criminal Justice Reform Conference” from February 22-24, 2022. 

“I am so proud that Harding Fine Arts Academy was one of only two recipients of this prestigious grant in the Oklahoma City area,” said Jean Hendrickson, HFAA School Board President. “This will allow us to creatively combat the losses from Covid-19 while we are teaching and connecting throughout the community. Well done, Firehawks!” 

Additionally, this program will battle the effects of social isolation due to COVID-19 and promote community-wide healing by creating a safe and encouraging environment that brings disenfranchised communities back together through positive discourse. The Mercy & Justice Conference will include a pre-conference in-person and virtual book club, free classic film screening, daytime assembly for students, and evening community discussion panel. All events for the conference will be free and open to the public.

The students will begin the spring semester of their English class by reading and analyzing Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – a powerful, bold true story about the potential for mercy to redeem America, and a call to fix America’s broken system of justice from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers in the country as well as discuss the social implications for many of the policies. 

The Academy strongly believes in teaching across subject lines, so relevant topics will be discussed in US History, World History, Oklahoma History, and Government classes. These topics include the slave trade, civil rights movement, Jim Crow era, Board v. Education, Tulsa Race Massacre, red-lining, unfair loaning practices, and gentrification. Additionally, students in their arts classes will be asked to create visual art pieces, practice, and listen to music, and dance to music inspired by the conference theme. All artworks will be displayed or performed during the week of the conference for the public. 

Harding Fine Arts Academy is funded primarily through donations from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations. Donations can be made through the Foundation via online, by phone at (405) 702-6939, or by sending a check to 3333 N Shartel Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73118.  For more information, please visit www.hfaafoundation.org

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