The DreamWorks Animation Charitable Foundation made it possible for Inner-City Arts (ICA) founders Irwin Jaeger and Bob Bates to bring their vision of an arts academy in Los Angeles to reality (see Los Angeles Area Grants). With a $500,000 grant, the Inner-City Arts Academy opened its doors in 1989 in an area of Los Angeles that reportedly has one of the largest homeless populations in the United States — Central City, better known as Skid Row. The DreamWorks Foundation continues its commitment to bringing art to middle and high school children that would have likely never had the exposure or the chance to develop their creative talents.
Those not living in California may not realize that in the late 1970s, arts instruction was eliminated in California public schools due to budgetary constraints. Bob Bates, a professional artist and art teacher, had the vision of creating an art space for inner city children while Irwin Jaeger, who found his success in business management and real estate development, headed up the business end of things. With a lifelong love of the arts, Jaeger sought to break down L.A.'s ethnic divides and bring different cultural groups together through its children and through art.
When ICA first opened, it served 550 inner-city children. Decades later, ICA now serves over 11,000 children. With the DreamWorks Foundation's recent grant award of $250,000 over five years, not only will these young people continue to make art a big part of their lives, but they will also receive the benefit of career readiness programs to learn the necessary skills required for today's workforce. The success of ICA is unquestionable, Joseph Collins, president and CEO of ICA offers the following statement to that end:
100 percent of the participating high school students have graduated from high school (compared to the Los Angeles Unified School District graduation rate of 62 percent), more than 90 percent of the students have enrolled in college or post-secondary training, and at least 40 students have embarked on careers in film, television, teaching and the social sciences.