Our mission is to strengthen the vitality of communities with school-based projects that bring people together, activate their creativity and amplify their voices.

Creative Communities are Thriving Communities.

That powerful truism is the guiding force behind the work of the CEL. The CEL helps schools and communities deepen their connections to each other and build more creative and thriving partnerships.



Founded in 2011, the Community Engagement Lab is a leader in putting creativity at the center of learning. Our goal is for all Pre-K12 students to have the creative and critical thinking skills they need to succeed in school and life.


Coalition Building
We are the backbone of a growing coalition of organizations from across the state focused on developing more creative and engaged learners. The coalition is strengthening our ability to work together to more effectively nurture students’ creativity skills and a personal hunger to learn.

Professional Development
We provide professional development opportunities to PreK-12 classroom teachers, teaching artists, expanded learning providers and community leaders to develop more high-quality creative learning opportunities for Vermont students.

This includes our teacher institute, Creative Curriculum From The Inside Out, which is a ten-month learning, planning and programming sequence for PreK-12 teachers who want to integrate a creative project into their core curriculum subjects.

We also host the two-day Creative Learning Forum. The Forum brings together national leaders in arts integration, Vermont education leaders and expanded learning providers to develop new ways to use creative engagement to advance personalized learning. The 2016 Forum was attended by 95 educators and expanded learning providers from across Vermont.

Creative Projects
This is what it’s all about – creative classrooms and communities in action. We award a $5,500 teaching artist residency to our partner schools. The in-school teaching artist residencies take place in the winter and culminate in the spring with public events that present the students’ work alongside and in performance with professional artists.

The Creative Schools Initiative
This is our flagship program. The Creative Schools Initiative brings together students, educators, school administrators and community partners into a coalition that shares a vision and shared agenda to develop the creative and critical thinking skills that our youth need to succeed in school and life.


For the 2016-17 school year, we are working in 15 schools in 5 counties, from the Northeast Kingdom to Brattleboro. Schools served by Creatives Schools Initiative professional development and in-school teaching artist residencies have included:

Thatcher Brook Primary School
Union Elementary / Montpelier
Montpelier High School
St. Johnsbury School
Concord School
Randolph Union High School
Stowe Elementary School
Ferrisburgh Central School
Cabot School
U32 High School / Washington County
All six elementary schools in Windham County, in partnership with Brattleboro Museum
Peacham School
Barnett School
Main Street Middle School / Montpelier

Learn more about these CSI projects in the Project Archive.


Invite your school to get involved. Attend a public performance. Invest in our work. You can help grow the number of high quality creative opportunities for Vermont’s children, youth and communities.