A Regional Dance-a-Thon Fundraiser for Arts Access in Schools

Save the Date: March 4, 2022

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    2022 Updates: Answering Community Needs

    We’ve been taking some necessary time to reimagine the Run for the Arts fundraiser as we know it. It is our responsibility to make sure that our programs reflect the values of Arts for Learning Northwest, including those of accessibility and equity.

    After multiple years of analyzing data and feedback, we are ready to announce Fun for the Arts, our new and improved version of the program that is more inclusive of our larger community.

    Why now?

    During the pandemic, we were able to virtually pilot a version of Fun for the Arts that more closely aligns with our mission, using an art-based activity while addressing the physical accessibility issues of a jog-a-thon. We are now ready to move into the school year with Fun for the Arts as a one day, region-wide dance-a-thon that will equitably distribute funds to participating schools.

    Why a Communal Funding Model?

    Systemic racism has contributed to persistent income inequality and access to equitable education, resources, and to quality arts experiences. In the 2019-2020 school year, the lower income schools participating in Fun for the Arts raised ~$8 per student while the higher income schools raised ~$40 per student. This gap reflects the historically inequitable access to resources in our communities and in our education system for our students.

    Arts in learning can be a transformative force in education. Moving to a community-wide fundraiser rather than focusing on individual schools helps us to close the opportunity gap and provide more equitable access to the arts for all students.

    What is changing:

    • From Run for the Arts to Fun for the Arts:
      We are adjusting the name of the program to better reflect the shift to a dance-a-thon that can now be used to raise funds for schools.
    • One unified Dance-A-Thon event:
      Instead of individual running events at each school, we will host a one-day Dance-A-Thon event led by a professional teaching artist. The dance-a-thon will take place on Friday, March 4th, 2022.
    • Community Based Fundraising Model:
      This year, all funds raised during the single day event will be collected into one pool of funds and then divided amongst participating schools into your individual Run-for-the-Arts accounts. This pool will comprise funds raised by each school as well as corporate and local business donations secured by Arts for Learning Northwest. Funds will be allocated per school based on student participation in the event.

    What has not changed:

    • Our commitment to supporting schools: It continues to be our goal to support schools in their ability to bring arts experiences to students. This new model centers this goal more equitably for all of our students.
    • We will provide materials and prizes.
    • We will provide dedicated support!
    • Online and in-person donation options.

    Can my school do a jog-a-thon event instead of a dance-a-thon event?

    At this time, we are focusing our efforts on supporting the dance-a-thon model only. You may do your own separate fundraiser and keep your arts funds secure in a Fun for the Arts account.

    How will the dance-a-thon work?

    Schools will designate a coordinator, promote the event, encourage participation and collection of funds.

    On Friday, March 4th, 2022, students will tune in to dance along with one of our professional teaching artists. Students & support staff (parent volunteers and school staff) will help to keep track of minutes students are dancing. Students will record this number just as if it were their "laps".

    Dance-a-thon event funds will be turned in to Arts for Learning Northwest and then allocated with additional donations from corporate sponsors.

    Any additional funds deposited into your Fun for the Arts account, not from the event, will remain solely yours.

    My school wants to participate but cannot do the event on March 4th. What are my options?

    The unified event on March 4th is to encourage us to see the ways that we are all in this together — working to bring more arts to our students. At this time, we are not able to accommodate the event outside of this date, but may have flexible timing on March 4th. Additionally, there are several logistical reasons that moving away from multiple deadlines (funds due, prize orders) will better support this new model and sustainability efforts.

    It has always been our goal with this program to make fundraising for schools and the amazing coordinators at those schools as supported as possible. We hope that this next step brings us even closer to supporting each other more. You, and specifically your students, are at the center of this change and this program.

    As we roll out this new program in its pilot year, we would love to hear from you about this fresh approach to make sure the way we are structuring it feels and is empowering.

    Please reach out to Koko Olszewski at to schedule a chat.

    Benefits for Participating Schools

    Event Support:

    Arts for Learning Northwest provides all the materials needed to make the event happen, including a secure online donation platform, emails for families, and promotional materials. Each school selects one person to coordinate, and a designated Arts for Learning NW staff member will assist and guide your coordinator with management of the event.

    Online Donation Platform:

    Arts for Learning Northwest's specialized fundraising website allows students to register and collect donations online. For an individual school, the cost of this resource would be prohibitive, but as part of the Fun for the Arts community, you have access to this site at no additional charge. Schools have seen an average growth of 15% when they adopt the online platform.

    Prizes & Incentives:

    Arts for Learning Northwest produces incentive prizes for students, including the perennially popular Fun for the Arts t-shirt designed by a different student each year, with artwork selected through an open submission process.

    Support Materials in Multiple Languages:

    Fun for the Arts materials are available in both English, Spanish, and Russian. Family letters are also available in Russian, Chinese, Somali, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

    A Well-Known and Trusted Organization:

    Run for the Arts — currently adapted for safety and inclusivity as Fun for the Arts — has been a Portland area tradition since 1977, and has helped schools raise over $18 million since its launch. For many who grew up here, Run for the Arts brings back fond memories of a fun and meaningful school event.

    Student and Family Engagement:

    Students and families play an active role in strengthening the arts as a community resource and educational tool at your school.

    5% Discount on Programs:

    All Fun for the Arts schools receive a five percent discount on Arts for Learning Northwest NW artist programs booked during the school year that their event takes place.

    How It Works

    Arts for Learning Northwest provides detailed instructions, promotional materials, motivational prizes, guidance, and support. Schools sign up, find an on-site coordinator (usually a PE classroom teacher or parent volunteer), tune in on March 4, 2022 to hold their Fun for the Arts event at their school or at home given current COVID guidelines.

    Students collect pledges from family, friends, and neighbors. They take part in the dance-a-thon with their classmates for 30 minutes.

    Holding a Fun for the Arts event for your school ensures that the arts will be an integral part of the school year.

    *Processing fees apply. Please see the Guide to Using Your Funds for more information.


    All public and private schools in Oregon & SW Washington are eligible.

    Contact Us

    Do you still have questions? We're happy to help! Email Koko Olszewski at

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