Apr 7, 2015 Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Secretary of State John F. Kerry announce the launch of the “Arkansas Declaration of Learning” initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Arkansas Department of Education. This innovative public-private partnership will initially work with up to 30 Arkansas teachers and school librarians teaching 7th-12th grade students in the fields of art, English language arts, and social studies to develop innovative curriculum that brings history to life and shares the importance of stewardship and civic engagement during the 2015-16 school year. Secretary of State Kerry said, “People make connections in lots of ways, and sometimes that connection is quicker to take hold through music, dance, theater, film more so than the words of a diplomat. This is a side of diplomacy that a lot of people don’t often hear about…the connection between artistic expression and freedom.” Arkansas is the first state in the country to participate in this national program. All states are eligible to apply, and others are already in the pipeline. This program is part of a national Inter-Agency Educational Initiative which began when representatives from 14 national partnering organizations signed the “Declaration of Learning” in 2012. This document pledged that the U.S. Department of State, the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, and 12 other national organizations would work with state and local partners to co-create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education using historic art and objects from their respective collections and best practices in education. Through this program, teachers will develop new tools that inspire student learning. During this pilot year, a select group of exemplary Arkansas teachers and school librarians will create dynamic teaching tools working with historic objects, works of art, and primary sources from the collections of the founding partners: U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Objects selected for the program will be used to tell national and state-based stories that vibrantly illustrate the many ways our nation valued stewardship and civic engagement during our country’s formative years, and the importance of this continued focus today. Teachers and school librarians selected to participate in this program will commit to a year-long initiative which will begin with a 2 1/2 day program at Crystal Bridges in July. During the program, teachers will learn about the primary resources held by the participating museums which include historic objects, oral histories, and works of art. From these objects, educators will begin developing lesson plans and learning activities at the program and will refine and test them in Arkansas classrooms and school libraries during the 2015-16 school year. They will share the results of their work at an event at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Fall 2016. The “Arkansas Declaration of Learning” program is open to Arkansas teachers and school librarians from all areas of the state teaching 7th-12th grade students in the fields of art, English language arts, and social studies. Applications for the “Arkansas Declaration of Learning” will open on April 7, 2015 and close at midnight on April 28, 2015. Stipends will be provided to selected participants.