I owe my career to an after-school arts education program in an inner city Los Angeles public school.

Generally I answer questions about how I ended up as CEO of ArtsWave by saying that I’ve spent my entire professional life in arts administration and fundraising. But in truth, I can trace that path back to the first grade at Van Ness Avenue School, where two first-generation Mexican immigrants were giving back to their community by teaching Mexican Ballet Folklorico dance. To this day, I can still pound out a pretty mean “zapateado,” or footwork, and I still treasure the hand-sewn (and now faded) costumes, with miles of lace and ribbon, that my mother and grandmother made for me. 

Dance was my equivalent of soccer, I tell my twins, Delaney and Hayden. My Folk Dance troupe instilled in me lessons about partnership, discipline, self-expression, cultural tradition, appreciation of diversity, hard work and beauty -- in singular ways. My experience in that school auditorium began a lifetime of passion for dance and for the arts, which I have been able to turn in to a wonderful professional journey.

This is national Arts in Education Week, an annual celebration designated by Congress to bring awareness to the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education. Every child deserves the chance to experience the power of the arts – the benefits go way beyond the art itself and establish the foundations of creativity and innovation that are essential for the 21st century workforce.

U.S. employers say creativity is one of the top three personality traits most important to career success, according to research from Americans For The Arts.

Across Greater Cincinnati, arts organizations supported by ArtsWave are providing thousands of arts education opportunities. In the first half of the 2015-16 school year, for instance, ArtsWave-funded organizations offered 34,000 student arts experiences in Hamilton County through programs, field trips and in-school activities. In Butler County, Ohio, and also in Kenton County, Ky., the number of students enriched by various arts organizations in the first half of the school year topped 9,000. 

This just scratches the surface, and we know it. ArtsWave wants all kids to benefit from arts education, and we know from our research that more than 90 percent of Greater Cincinnati parents agree.

Help us remind decision-makers of the importance of arts education by sharing your #BecauseOfArtsEd story on Twitter and Facebook.