Huntington Beach schools receive $1,000 art ‘mini-grants’

A Dwyer Middle School student puts the finishing touches on while painting a ukulele.
A Dwyer Middle School student puts the finishing touches on while painting a ukulele. The project was funded through a $1,000 “mini-grant.”
(Courtesy of Shaianne Homann)

A grant allowed Dwyer Middle School music teacher Shaianne Homann to spearhead the Just Keep Strumming ukulele project.

Over an eight-week period, 17 Dwyer students who signed up got to design and build their own ukuleles. They learned to play songs on them and built up their skills to a live performance for family and friends.

“That grant funded everything,” Homann said. “It was really important, because it gave the kids a chance to sit down and learn how to build an instrument, do something with their hands ... They got to make it their own, which is really important for middle-schoolers. At the end of the class, they got to keep their instrument, which is something that you can’t always do as a music program.”

The fact that the grant was available? Well, that was music to Homann’s ears.

Several arts projects were funded this year through $1,000 “mini-grants” awarded by Huntington Beach-based nonprofit Educational Enrichment Foundation for the Arts (EEFA).

The mini-grants program was opened last spring for middle schools that feed into the Huntington Beach Union High School District. EEFA board president Debi Windle said the organization is currently expanding the opportunity to feeder elementary schools.

The application period for next year is now open, and teachers and administrators of HBUHSD feeder schools are welcome to apply for one of up to 10 mini-grants.

“We don’t limit it to a specific type of art,” Windle said. “We can fund the purchase of extra instruments, we can fund costuming needs, we can fund if they want to put on a production and they can’t afford the royalty fees. It’s open to them to provide us with an overview of what the project is and the costs involved.”

Dwyer Middle School students made ukuleles as part of the "Just Keep Strumming" school art project.
Dwyer Middle School students made ukuleles as part of the “Just Keep Strumming” school art project.
(Courtesy of Shaianne Homann )

Projects that were supported this year also included the “Sew Your Heart Out” costuming project at Dwyer, the middle school theater arts program at Kinetic Academy, the Rock Band project and Visual and Performing Arts program at Marine View Middle School and the school musical at Sowers Middle School.

Windle said the EEPA also typically funds an extra performance of a main stage show at the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts and invites feeder schools to bring their students to see the show.

“Children and their parents often tell us it’s the first time they were introduced to live theater, and the concept of coming to APA for their high school education,” she said. “That’s our goal, to highlight that you can stay within our school district and receive an excellent education in the arts.”

The mini-grants are funded by a grant received from the California Arts Council, Windle said, as well as donations to the EEFA.

Elementary or middle school educators from the HBUHSD geographical area can apply for a 2023 mini-grant at through the end of January. Grant recipients will be announced in February.

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