ARTsmart Mentor Program

The dual mission of ARTsmart is, first, to provide underserved schoolchildren with an education in the arts that will provide both the instrumental and the intrinsic benefits necessary to become well-rounded, productive members of a rapidly changing society. Second, ARTsmart is a leadership-development program for LMU student mentors that incorporates teaching in the arts and community service.

ARTsmart Artist Mentors

The LMU student volunteers, known as artist mentors, are undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines (fine arts, graphic design, multimedia arts, art history, animation, dance, music, and liberal studies). Through their teaching experience in urban classrooms, LMU students gain leadership and collaborative skills, self-confidence, and an understanding of the social justice perspective. After working in ARTsmart, many LMU students use their experience as a foundation to continue as leaders in their communities, and many are inspired to pursue careers in art education, community service, and related fields, both at LMU and in further graduate work.

ARTsmart mentors collaborate to design a curriculum that fosters a passion for exploration and develops 21st century skills. This contemporary arts education curriculum prepares students for our globally competitive work force by developing the abilities to innovate, communicate, and collaborate. They also learn problem solving, critical and creative thinking, facility in dealing with ambiguity and complexity, integration of multiple skill sets, and the ability to perform cross-disciplinary work. Lessons also provide opportunities for students to reach their full potential, focusing on transformative experiences, empowerment, and what it mean to be a citizen and a healthy person in today's global world.

ARTsmart Partner School

Westside Global Awareness K–8 Magnet School In fall 2008 ARTsmart began its partnership with Westside Leadership Magnet, a local K–8 school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Then, in fall 2010, the school was renamed Westside Global Awareness K–8 Magnet, focusing on government/politics, science, and environment/ecosystems. Westside has become a strong partner, given its focus on developing leadership skills while promoting academic excellence and social justice. Approximately 80% of the families enrolled at Westside live below the poverty level, and its students are from diverse backgrounds. In a short time, ARTsmart has made an in-depth contribution to Westside students by providing thoughtfully developed standards-based arts education as well as ongoing mentoring services and support.

ARTsmart Director

Terry Lenihan is a Los Angeles artist and educator. Professor Lenihan directs LMU's art education program, which includes ARTsmart. A committed advocate for arts education and a believer in the power of art as a catalyst for social change, she focuses her research on K–12 and post-secondary art education, service learning, collaborative art, and social justice arts education. Terry Lenihan is a sculptor and installation artist known for monumental figurative sculptures that reference the individual's struggle against constraints, and the power of celebration in the human gesture. In March 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Lenihan to the California Arts Council, and Governor Brown reappointed her in February 2011. Her research interests include: K–12 and post-secondary art education, service learning, collaborative art, and social justice arts education. Lenihan was a founding member and on the Leadership Team of the CREATE (Core Reforms Engaging Arts to Educate) CA, a broad-based, statewide coalition of agencies, educators, business leaders, and organizational partners building an education reform movement that views arts and creative education as a central part of the solution to the crisis in California schools. In spring 2012, State Superintendent Torlakson appointed her to the Joint Arts Education Task Force, charged with writing The Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California's Classrooms. The blueprint was published in May 2013.

Giving to ARTsmart

Initially funded by a grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation in 2001, ARTsmart continues to thrive as we celebrate a decade of serving the community. Thanks to ongoing support from alumni, parents, foundations, corporations, and friends of the University, LMU and the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CFA) have raised over $200,000 for ARTsmart. LMU recently received a generous gift from a family foundation to establish an endowment for ARTsmart. It is hoped that, as it receives further contributions, the endowment will eventually ensure that this transformative community service program last in perpetuity. Because of the generosity of these donors, the College has prepared its student mentors for lives distinguished by creative and compassionate responses to a complex and needy world, while also ensuring that schoolchildren receive the finest in art education.

In addition to the donations supporting the operating costs of the ARTsmart program, we have received over $100,000 in scholarship assistance for LMU ARTsmart mentors. These scholarships allow them to develop their academic, humanistic, and artistic capacities on the way to becoming leaders in their communities. Donor support ensures that LMU can continue to educate ethical, talented, and deserving students for generations to come. Your generosity, regardless of the size of your gift, will help LMU continue to provide art education to the underserved children in our community.

If you are interested in supporting ARTsmart, please contact Bryant Keith Alexander, CFA Dean, at (310) 338-7430 or You may also support ARTsmart by making an online contribution to CFA at

For more information about LMU's ARTsmart Program, please contact Director Terry Lenihan at