By Justin Udo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia schools get some help in their effort to expose their students to the arts.

For the last 15 years, the Picasso Project has encouraged the arts in Philadelphia public schools by awarding them grants.

Tim Gibbon with the Picasso Project says their program is a combination of art advocacy and support.

“It’s a project with a lot of heart. Volunteers, committee members that are really committed in what they do and we see the impact everyday in the schools that we visit,” he said.

“It combines grants to support innovative arts projects in Philadelphia public schools, and also engages students and teachers in schools in advocacy efforts to advocate full and equitable funding for arts education,” said Jesse Mell, a percussion teacher at John Bartram High School, one of this year’s 14 winners.

They received a $3600 grant to help expand their music program.

“It feels great, we finally have an opportunity to have a mano percussion instrument at the school that will help us build a mano percussion ensemble next year. A full drum line that we can the compete with and perform with publicly,” said Mell.

Parkway North West High School also won a grant to help them develop a partnership with a local theatre, where students will learn about and see different plays, and develop a drama program.

“We’re exposing every one of our students to the classics, whether it be Shakespeare or modern art,” said principal Jeff MacFarland.

Grants awarded totaled more than $65,000 to 14 Philadelphia schools.

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