Kennedy Center Names Chattanooga-Hamilton County as Partner City for Any Given Child

Program Creates a Long-Range Arts Education Plan for Students Grades K–8 in Hamilton County Schools 

From Brittany Laeger, Kennedy Center –

 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has chosen Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Tennessee, as the 26th site for Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, a catalyst program that improves student outcomes and creates community change by leveraging the power of strategic, coordinated arts education. 

Now in its tenth year, Any Given Child is based on the premise that 1) arts education is an essential component of a student’s education; 2) any given child, regardless of circumstance, deserves equitable access to quality arts education; and that 3) community stakeholders must work in concert to create long-range plans that benefit students and improve communities. With the addition of Chattanooga-Hamilton County, the program has 26 sites in 20 states and Puerto Rico. Within the 2017–2018 school year, Any Given Child impacted 977,063 students (K–8). 

“The arts are a key element to a quality education experience for our children in Hamilton County Schools, and we are excited about the opportunities the Any Given Child initiative will provide in our schools,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “The arts community in the area is very strong, and we appreciate our partnership with ArtsBuild 

and the Kennedy Center in opening the door to tremendous possibilities for our children’s future.” 

“The arts engage the whole child in creative thinking, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, and communication. It inspires and transforms students, supporting them in becoming life-long learners as well as future citizens,” said Jeanette McCune, Director of School and Community Programs at the Kennedy Center. “For the past 15 years, the Center has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Chattanooga-Hamilton County as part of the Center’s nationwide network Partners in Education program. With the continued work from this program, the mission of Any Given Child further aligns with their vision of strengthening and investing in the community. The commitment and remarkable support from Superintendent Johnson, ArtsBuild, and the local arts community has been inspiring. Any Given Child generates a measurable impact in students’ lives both in and out of the classroom and we are looking forward to seeing the students reap the benefits of increased arts opportunities.” 

Numerous studies point to the value of arts education in improving student outcomes, yet equity in, and access to, a strong, consistent arts education remains an issue for many students across the United States. Any Given Child seeks to help fill that gap by bringing together community stakeholders to create and implement a customized, unified, long-term plan for arts education. 

In Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Any Given Child will incorporate existing resources of the Hamilton County Schools, ArtsBuild, local arts and community organizations, and the Kennedy Center. Local educators and philanthropic and for-profit stakeholders will provide additional resources. ArtsBuild will also serve as the lead organization for Any Given Child Chattanooga- Hamilton County with funding support towards the first four years provided by the Hamilton County Schools. 

“We are proud that ArtsBuild and Hamilton County Schools have partnered with the Kennedy Center for the last 15 years.” Said, Dan Bowers, President of ArtsBuild. “We believe that student achievement will only increase when the arts are part of a well-rounded education, so we are excited to move arts education to the next level through the Any Given Child Initiative.” 

With expert consultation services provided by Kennedy Center staff, community leaders develop a strategy for arts education that is tailor-made for the school district and community. Since the program’s inception, Any Given Child sites have reported numerous successes: a number of schools have hired additional teachers or added staff positions; new sources of funding for arts education have been established; communities have expanded arts offerings for students; and sites have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists, and local arts organizations to build their capacity to deliver high quality arts education to students. 

These successes extend further into the community as renewed and new partnerships develop among school districts, community arts organizations, universities, communications, business, and philanthropy, bringing a new spirit of collaboration, greater coordination, and alignment of services, to their efforts and a broader vision of what is possible. Organizations that once were working alone, and sometimes at cross-purposes, are seeing how their collaboration and partnerships are achieving a powerful collective impact to reach every child in their educational journey. 

By bringing together community stakeholders to envision their arts education goals and coordinate resources, Any Given Child is a sustainable, customized approach to community building. Three phases make up the program: strategic planning (year 1), which includes the community’s comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources and needs assessment facilitated by Kennedy Center staff; implementation (years 2, 3, and 4), where guided by an Implementation Committee, the community puts the strategic plan into action; and sustaining (year 5 and beyond), with the goal that the community sustains and expands arts education offerings and continues to ensure funding and staffing for program initiatives, communications, and marketing. To download a full list of the Community Arts Team for Any Given Child Chattanooga-Hamilton County, please see here. 


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts sets a national standard for arts learning. Working through model programs and a nationwide network of partners, the nation’s cultural center harnesses the power of the arts to address education challenges, accelerate best practices, and uplift citizen artists. Across all its programs, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in, learn about, and learn through the arts. 

Highlights of the 2018-2019 season include the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which impacts thousands of college-aged theater students across the country; the expansion of Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child into two new communities; and Long Way Down, a Kennedy Center-commissioned work based on the young adult novel of the same name. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center will open the REACH, an immersive arts and learning center with significant space and programming for arts education. 

As an essential component of the living memorial to President Kennedy, the Center’s Education programs utilize the arts to embrace President Kennedy’s ideals of service, justice, freedom, courage, and gratitude. By cultivating the citizen artist in everyone, the Kennedy Center brings the arts and creativity to the center of our lives. For more information, please visit 


Hamilton County Schools provides learning opportunities today to open doors to possibilities for the future for children, families, and the community. The school district covers 576-square miles in southeastern Tennessee with a population of 357,738 residents. The 79 schools consist of Pre-K through grade twelve with nearly 2,800 full-time teachers responsible for educating over 44,500 students. The district and its schools are driven by the Future Ready 2023 Action Plan providing Future Ready students and moving the district toward becoming the fastest improving school system in Tennessee. 


Any Given Child, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by 

David M. Rubenstein. 

This program is also funded by an endowment from Newman’s Own Foundation in honor 

of A.E. Hotchner. 

Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education and 

Dennis and Phyllis Washington. 

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