In 2009, a group of Austin, TX educators, philanthropists, parents and civic leaders formed a collective impact initiative called MINDPOP. The project was noble: these leaders shared the belief that when creativity and the arts are integrated into school lessons, students are more engaged and learning improves.

Today, MINDPOP has blossomed into a nationally-recognized creative learning initiative, providing professional development strategies to teachers and earning accolades and funding from more than 50 arts providers, including a major affirmation from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which endorsed the program by naming Austin, TX as just the seventh city to participate in its Any Given Child program, which aims to ensure access, equality quality in the creative learning space.


Under the consult of MINDPOP founder Dr. Brent Hasty, mindALIGNED is spearheaded by the Basie, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, Bob Morrison and Quadrant Arts Education Research, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education. Over the last year, the Basie has hosted meetings between these individuals and organizations and members of the MINDPOP collective, with the goal of launching a like-minded program for schools and students in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

mindALIGNED is a modern approach whose techniques span across disciplines, brightening the classroom from lesson to lesson, pupil to pupil.

The mindALIGNED pilot phase is underway at Red Bank Middle School, Middletown Village Elementary School, Park Avenue Elementary School in Freehold Borough, South Toms River Elementary School, George J. Mitchell Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor and Ocean Academy in Bayville.

During this phase, data will be collected and observations made, consistent with the goal of a regional expansion and the creation of cornerstones for arts-rich communities. Changes in students’ attitudes, attendance and test scores will be measured over time to gauge the success of creative teaching and the impact of increased arts education. Like MINDPOP, mindALIGNED’s goals are noble: a reinvigoration of learning, greater engagement and test scores, and a brighter classroom experience for teachers, students and parents alike. By 2030, our goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties will become mindALIGNED and designated as arts-rich.

The Count Basie Center for the Arts and its partners are proud to launch mindALIGNED, and look forward to following up with data and information and seeing minds align around creating arts-rich schools and communities.