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.

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…

“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.

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.