The A+ Schools program began in North Carolina, where it has successfully used the arts as a catalyst for transforming schools since 1995. Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana adopted the A+ model in developing their own statewide A+ networks. A+ Schools has continued to evolve and is nationally recognized as an effective, research-based strategy for sustainable school reform. All state A+ networks regularly share their practices, research and expertise with each other and with others inquiring about the initiative. True to the creative process and honoring the individuality of people, places and cultures, the initiative looks different in each state, reflecting the attributes and characteristics that make each state unique. What binds the group together is their common commitment to schools that work for everyone, facilitated by a common set of foundation commitments: the A+ Essentials™.
In 1995, the A+ Schools concept was conceived in North Carolina where it began as a research model sponsored by the Institute for the Arts. Starting with 25 schools in their first year, the NC A+ network has grown to include 40 schools statewide.
In 1998, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, a private foundation in Oklahoma, identified the North Carolina A+ Schools program as one with great potential for replication, and the Oklahoma A+ Schools initiative was born. In 2003, the University of Central Oklahoma agreed to provide a permanent home for Oklahoma A+ Schools. Currently, there are 70 A+ Schools in Oklahoma.
The Thea Foundation, a public foundation based in North Little Rock, Arkansas, supports 11 Arkansas A+ Schools. Training began in 2011 and supports public, private and charter schools statewide.
After visiting Oklahoma A+ Schools in conjunction with Arkansas’ Thea Foundation in 2011, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) established an A+ network in Louisiana. Currently, LA supports 7 A+ schools.