California organizations raked in nearly $5 million in spring funding grants from the National Endowment for the Arts - and two charter schools were among the local winners.
"We are all absolutely thrilled," said Liza Bercovici, the executive director of the Gabriela Foundation, which established Gabriella Charter School, a K-8 school in Echo Park.
Bercovici said Congressman Xavier Becerra's office delivered the good news and it quickly spread around the school through a series of emails and virtual high fives.
"If it weren't for grants from government agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts we wouldn't be able to do what we're doing," Bercovici said. The $25,000 funding grant will go to support the charter's school day dance program, which provides several hours of dance per week during students' regular school day. Gabriella also offers extensive after school dance instruction.
Another local winner was Renaissance Arts Academy, a charter school in Eagle Rock. Executive Director PK Candaux said this is the sixth consecutive year the school's received NEA funding.
"It's one of those high status funding sources," she said, which gives her group credibility among smaller funders. "It makes other people feel like, 'OK this is real.' "
Candaux said the $50,000 award will pay for the school's two-hour after school arts conservatory, which extends the school day and gives students access to orchestra, dance, percussion and choir.
Candaux said grants are a vital part of the school's funding structure. Recent state education funding reductions have been hard on the arts, she said, presenting budget challenges the school's had to navigate.
"A lot of people have been in the position of just cutting certain programs," she said. "Our program is created to have arts at the center so we couldn't just cut them out."
Arts for LA, Centre Theater Group, Network of Ensemble Theaters and Southern California Institute of Architecture and Library Foundation of Los Angeles also won grants.