SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation awarded a grant Thursday to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) for transportation and programming funding from the New York State Connect Kids Program. Funding from the $20,000 grant will help cover travel, program, and staffing fees for 40 Capital Region kids to attend the inaugural year of the Saratoga Performing Arts School.

SPAC is partnering with the Schenectady Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Incorporated, and the St. Catherine’s Center for children to reach underprivileged children in the Capital Region. “The Connect Kids to Parks program ensures that the outstanding educational experiences offered in Saratoga Spa State Park are accessible and affordable to kids throughout the area,” said State Parks Regional Director Alane Ball-Chinian.

The SPAC School of Arts aims to provide comprehensive educational experiences within the artistic disciplines of dance, theater, and music. Students are given the opportunity to work alongside world-renowned artists, including this year’s guest: presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco. Blanco delivered his speech, titled “One Today”, at Former President Obama’s inauguration in 2013.

The school operates out of Lewis A. Swyer Studios, located in Saratoga Spa State Park. “Our partnership with NYS Parks over the past 5 years has allowed SPAC to make a transformative change on our physical campus,” said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol. “This wonderful collaboration brings transformative steps in furthering our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.”

The Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program is designed to connect children in New York State to nature and history. Since its inception, the program has served over 200,000 students and provided nearly 5,000 grants for field trips in the state.