Learning Through The Arts

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Academic issues; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Gang and/or related criminal activities

Setting: Rural/remote area; Community-based setting; School-based

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

Learning Through The Arts (LTTA) brings specially-trained dramatic artists, musicians, visual artists, dancers, and writers to work creatively with teachers and community program coordinators to engage youth deeply in their school learning and stimulate life skills development through out-of-school activities. The LTTA, an initiative of the Royal Conservatory of Music, offered a Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) in school and community settings in the Wood Buffalo Region starting in 2010.

The program was customized to the regional needs through a lengthy consultation process involving local youth and other community members. The result was a program of highly engaging, pro-social, arts-based activities delivered in school and community settings. The activities were targeted to the needs of Aboriginal youth in grades 6-10 who were identified as already at risk, or being at risk, of social detachment, dropping out of school, and anti-social behaviour, leading to gang involvement, substance abuse, or other criminal activities.


The main goals of the Learning Through The Arts project are:

  • Promoting student academic achievement;
  • Increasing student engagement in learning;
  • Supporting differentiated instruction in the classroom;
  • Stimulating student preferences for arts-based learning;
  • Fostering students’ desire for school arts experiences;
  • Promoting school attendance by students;
  • Enhancing inter-cultural understanding among students;
  • Promoting knowledge about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) cultures and the well-being of FNMI youth;
  • Developing Artist-Educator/Teacher relations; and
  • Creating a roster of regional Artist-Educators.


The appropriate clientele for the project are Aboriginal youth in grades 6-10 (aged 12-16) identified as already at risk, or being at risk, of social detachment, dropping out of school, and anti-social behaviour, leading to gang involvement, substance abuse, or other criminal activities.

Core Components

The LTTA’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) (LTTA’s YEP)  was customized to the needs of the Wood Buffalo Region and was specifically designed to fit well with Alberta’s Crime Prevention Framework, which emphasizes community collaborations, identification of underlying factors, contributing to youth delinquency, and the development of protective innovations for youth that help reduce risk factors. In schools where populations were composed solely of FNMI students, Youth Empowerment Program was solely culturally-based.

The main components of the project include the following:

  • In-school programming: Language Arts, Social Studies and Mathematics;
  • After-school activities: Pro-social activities for regional youth during their leisure hours contributing to the development of arts and life skills; and
  • Summer camps.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Teachers should take the prescribed 10 LTTA YEP lessons and develop arts-based teaching ideas.
  • Partnerships: Partnership between the Royal Conservatory of Music and Wood Buffalo communities in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas.
  • Training and technical assistance: LTTA YEP lessons given to teachers in the project.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Learning Through The Arts program was implemented in Wood Buffalo region (Alberta) from 2010 to 2013. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Learning Through The Arts’ YEP.  The findings from the study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio is 4.83:1. This indicates that for every dollar invested, there is an average return of $4.83 in social value created by the program over the three years; and
  • Social value was created through a reduction in educational assistant resource need, costs of child and youth case workers, community support workers, cost of dropping out, costs associated with treatment of addictions and substance abuse issues, costs of police call outs and court avoided, while actually money was created through student income.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Learning Through The Arts. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries

For more information on this program, contact:

The Royal Conservatory
Jason van Eyk
Telephone: (416) 408-2824
E-mail: jason.vaneyk@rcmusic.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-27
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: