ArtPlace Mississippi, was founded in 1991 as Greenwood Leflore Cities In Schools, then changed to Communities In Schools of Greenwood-Leflore in 1996. It was affiliated with the national organization, Communities In Schools, with the mission of high school dropout prevention. In 2013, CIS of Greenwood changed its name to ArtPlace Mississippi to reflect its focus on the arts and place-based programming. The mission was expanded to include not only at-risk youth, but senior citizens, adults and the community at large.
The emphasis on arts began in 2001 when CIS of Greenwood implemented the new CORE Arts program sponsored by the Mississippi Arts Commission and Attorney General's office. The program provided high quality arts programming for court-involved youth in alternative schools, detention centers, adolescent offender programs and state training schools. CORE Arts, with its innovative programming and hands-on approach, proved to be the most effective tool to engage students and improve both behavior and school attendance, leading to better grades and graduation rates.
Seeing the success of using high quality arts programming in our work with at-risk youth, ArtPlace began expanding its programming to address other community issues such as job creation, youth development and leadership, workforce training and downtown revitalization.