To cultivate creativity and grow mutual empathy as building blocks for a prosperous, sustainable, and peaceful future.
We are planting the seeds of freedom by inspiring students to boldly step beyond the boundaries set before them and challenge the norm.
Theory of Change
To transform children's self-identity through the arts for higher-order thinking and enhanced self-worth.
The ICAF school art program (Arts Olympiad) has grown over the years into the world's largest. The program employs the arts as a dynamic physical activity to get to one of the leading causes of declining creativity and rising obesity: How children view themselves.
The Arts Olympiad introduces students to the "Artist-Athlete Ideal" of the creative mind and a healthy body (mente sana in corpo sano). The structured lesson plans motivate students to think of themselves and others not as techies, nerds, jocks, or artsy but as artist-athletes. The coalescing of artistic and athletic mindsets sprouts outside-the-box thinking and instills healthy lifestyles.
The Arts Olympiad requires students to visualize and depict themselves as artist-athletes in their paintings, drawings or digital art, to inspire creative thinking and instill healthy lifestyles. Under the Arts Olympiad, students depict themselves as artist-athletes in their paintings, drawings, or digital art, solidifying their revised self-image. For those at-risk and disadvantaged, creativity can blaze new trails to break the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. An increased number of artist-athletes transforms the school into a more integrated, forward-looking community.
To develop empathy worldwide, ICAF produces the World Children's Festival (WCF) across the U.S. Capitol on The National Mall. The Arts Olympiad winners from the participating U.S. school districts and countries come together at the WCF. The festival workshops, training, and activities are designed to provide a transformative experience that infuses children's creativity with empathy, inspiring them to become "creative-empaths" who can work together to make the world a better place.
To be a creative-empath requires a quality of character that can help overcome adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and disrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma and hatred that seeps into the young, like physical traits or melanin. The WCF is not only fun and entertainment but an effective intervention that makes it unlike any other children's festival, nationally or globally.
Over the past twenty-five years, ICAF has changed the world for children. More than five million schoolchildren have participated in and benefited from ICAF's free-of-charge programs. An estimated two million students, parents, and teachers have attended ICAF festivals, exhibitions, and conferences in over twenty major cities worldwide. ChildArt quarterly’s readership has grown to about 220,000.
The National Endowment of the Art, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Skillman Foundation, and the Robert J. Bauer Family Foundation supported ICAF in 2022. ICAF is independently ranked among the 25 Top Children's Charities in the United States. The U.S. Olympic Committee has granted ICAF an exclusive license to use the "Arts Olympiad" mark. ICAF is raising funds to launch its 7th Arts Olympiad in June 2023 and produce the 7th WCF in June 2024.