By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The School District of Philadelphia is reaping big benefits from a program that connects artists with public service in the classroom.

Margo Drakos, founder and CEO of ArtistYear, is behind the concept of connecting college graduates with a program that gives them full-time teaching positions in which they share their unique talents.

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Drakos says her organization is working or partnering this year with 11 schools in Philadelphia, including Mastery Charter Harrity Upper School in West Philadelphia.

She says a recent Drexel grad who works with metal sculpture is…

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“Working with middle-schoolers there to engage design through hip-hop and electronics and is doing a host of innovative projects there with them.”

Drakos says AmeriCorps, the government-backed public service program, recently awarded her organization a $1.4 million grant to be used over three years to support its efforts.

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Drakos says the money will support the work of the teaching fellows in Philadelphia, as well as those in Queens, New York and the Roaring Fork Valley in western Colorado.