As many of you know, here at Upstream Arts, we’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary as a nonprofit working at the intersection of the arts, disability, and learning! In the 10 days leading up to Give to the Max Day (November 12), we’re sharing 10 fun facts about our work and our history – which double as 10 great reasons to Give to the Max, toward our big anniversary goal of $100,000 by June 30. Enjoy!

Fun Fact #4: We’re Contributing to Research

Assessment and evaluation are integral parts of the Upstream Arts culture, built into our programmatic structure itself. Because there is limited research on how the arts impact individuals with disabilities, we prioritize evaluation and see our data as a much-needed contribution to a growing field of research and practice.

Early in our history we forged a relationship with

Early in our history we forged a relationship with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI), a federally designated institute with the goal of promoting and evaluating wide scale educational initiatives and community programs for individuals with disabilities. Under the guidance of ICI, we then developed rigorous program evaluation tools. To include the voices of our participants in our evaluation process, we also use poetry activities to solicit feedback and to invite participants to reflect on what they have learned; collect and share the poems, paintings, and songs created by participants; and document our programs through photography and video whenever possible.


Upstream Arts teaching artist leading a collaborative poetry activity

Collaborative poetry writing in an Upstream Arts class (photo: Theo Goodell)


We compile and summarize our school data in annual Reports to the Community that we distribute to school districts and other stakeholders. We also create additional reports for Adult Day programs on findings specific to their clients. Click here for a growing archive of these reports that you can download and share.

This wealth of data, along with the creativity we see from our participants every day, reveals the powerful impact that the arts can have on people of ALL abilities. Our evaluation methods are rigorous, because we recognize the importance of continually demonstrating that individuals with disabilities and the arts are profoundly valuable – that they can enrich our lives, transforming our communities for the better.

Move upstream with Upstream Arts by making a special 10th Anniversary gift on Give to the Max Day! We’re looking for commitments from 10 supporters every day between now and November 12, with the goal of having 100 Give to the Max supporters giving $10 or more and moving us closer to our $100,000 anniversary stretch goal. Can you be 1 of 10 today? It takes only a few minutes to schedule a gift right now at Thanks so much in advance for your belief and support!