Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg Join Expanded White House Arts Mentorship Program

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Jane Fonda

Turnaround Arts expanded its Hollywood roster with new recruits that will join supporters including Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, Paula Abdul and Elizabeth Banks in bringing the arts to children in high-need schools.

Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg are among the newest Hollywood recruits who will bring the arts to students as part of the White House's Turnaround Arts initiative, which Michelle Obama revealed Wednesday is expanding to more schools in California. 

Carla Dirlikov, Barbara Kruger, Herbie Hancock, Smokey Robinson and Jackson Browne also have joined as Turnaround Arts mentors who will each be paired with a high-need school in California. They join mentors including Elizabeth Banks, Kerry Washington, Frank Gehry, Yo-Yo Ma, Josh Groban, Paula Abdul, Russell Simmons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Forest Whitaker, who help bring dance, theater and music programs to some of the lowest-performing schools in the nation. The program has proven to increase reading and math proficiency by 12.6 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively, according to research by Booz Allen Hamilton.

The newest participating schools include Costano Elementary in Ravenswood City School District; Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary in Los Angeles Unified School District; Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Monterey Peninsula Unified School District; Sierra Preparatory Academy and Frances E. Willard Intermediate in Santa Ana Unified School District; and Whaley Middle in Compton Unified School District.

Turnaround Arts is part of the President's committee on the arts and humanities to help bring equal access to arts education for schools across the nation. First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday showcased the talents of Turnaround Arts students during a show at the White House where children performed with mentors including Abdul and Alfre Woodard.

“The arts are central to who we are as a people, and they are central to the success of our kids. This is not an afterthought,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “This is not something you do because it’s kind of nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts.”