Expanding Family Involvement through the Arts

Cool Culture Professional Developments have enhanced and expanded my engagement with the children and families in my school by providing me with the tools to encourage, guide and support the families to become active participants in the city’s varied cultural institutions. The shared dialogue at the Professional Developments have transformed my museum experiences into more creative one.

-Anthony, Parent Coordinator at PS 66

Click here for the 2017-2018 Program Flyer 


Literacy Without Walls is Cool Culture’s professional development and family involvement program for New York City’s Title 1 elementary and charter schools. The program enables Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten families to support children’s language development and early learning through New York City’s museums, gardens, and zoos. 

  1. Your school receives:
  2. A 4-part professional development workshop series for the Cultural Liaison, the school staff member designated to implement the program at your school Each workshop will:

    • provide training on best practices for supporting family involvement through the arts
    • provide participants with educational resources and activities that can be used during parent workshops and meetings 
    • connect participants with educators from some of NYC’s world-renowned museums

  3. Your Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten families each receive:

A personalized Cool Culture Family Pass which provides FREE, unlimited general admission for up to 5 people to our 90 partner museums, botanic gardens, and zoos during out-of-school time (not for use in field trips).

See Frequently Asked Questions for more info.


Enrollment is not complete until Cool Culture emails you a signed copy of the contract.

Enroll by Sept. 12 to receive Family Passes in November. Enroll by October 11 to receive Family Passes in December.

PROGRAM FEE: $2,700 per-school

Literacy Without Walls is a fee-for-service program.  The fee is a standard payment for the professional development series and will not be itemized or discounted according to which service and w orkshop the school participates in. The Family Passes for Pre-K and K are provided free of charge for those schools that enroll in the professional development series.

Accepted schools will be invoiced in August, payment will be due December 1, 2017.

Licensed Vendor with NYC Department of Education (Vendor ID: 161636968)


We encourage schools to enroll in the summer before the school year. Enrolled schools will register their families for Family Passes in the Fall and Winter (Family passes are ready for distribution 6-8 weeks after registration). The professional development workshops take place throughout the year, beginning in November. 

For a full program timeline please click here.


If you still have questions please email us at learning@coolculture.org.  

See what others are saying about our  program!

Executive Director Candice Anderson and longtime supporter, Principal Cecilia Jackson of Pioneer Academy - P.S. 307Q, speak on WABC 7's Viewpoint about Cool Culture’s unique position in providing not only free cultural access, but empowerment to families and commitment to enrich educational experiences through the arts.

Meet Anthony Baker!  A long time Cool Culture Liaison and Parent Coordinator.

Hear how parents and museum educators are Cultivating Champions of Culture in Preschool.  


  1. How does this program impact my students and their families?
  2. What kind of professional development is provided through Literacy Without Walls?
  3. What do pre-kindergarten and kindergarten families receive?
  4. Does staff get a Cool Culture Family Pass?
  5. Is my school eligible for Literacy Without Walls?
  6. Can we take field trips using our Cool Culture passes?
  7. What happens once my school submits enrollment materials? How do we register our families?
  8. Do schools have to use Title 1 funding to pay for the program free?
  9. Are there discounts for small schools?
  10. Why can't Cool Culture provide passes for first grade or above?

How does this program impact my students and their families?

In alignment with the Common Core State Standards, and the NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, family visits to cultural institutions provide real-world opportunities for children to

  • Make observations, draw inferences, and ask questions
  • Express thoughts, feelings and ideas
  • Find evidence for their opinions
  • Develop new vocabulary and content knowledge
  • Understand other perspectives and cultures
  • Make connections between themselves, the arts, and other subjects

The professional development program specifically addresses the unique needs of families that are new to museum-going, based on Cool Culture’s over 15 years of experience engaging underserved families with supporting children’s learning through arts and culture.

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What is the role of the Cultural Liaison at my school?
The Principal appoints a staff member to be the school’s Cultural Liaison and to attend the professional development workshops. Liaisons enroll Universal Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten families in Cool Culture, distribute materials, hold meetings to keep parents up-to-date, and create a Cool Culture display space at their schools to provide parents with information about cultural institutions.

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What kind of professional development is provided through Literacy Without Walls?
Literacy Without Walls professional development 4-part series occurs throughout the school year, during school hours, at 4 different cultural institutions, November-May. Each 5-hour workshop includes a guided tour by a museum educator and an introduction to simple parent-child activities for museum visits. Participants leave the session well-informed about the educational opportunities available for families at cultural institutions and prepared to turnkey the information to parents in their school. Workshops are designed specifically with considerations for family populations who are low-income, recent immigrants, and new to museum-going. Each workshop participant will be entitled to sign up all of their pre-kindergarten and kindergarten families for the Cool Culture Family Pass. Exact locations and dates TBD.

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What do pre-kindergarten and kindergarten families receive?
All Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten families enrolled in Cool Culture will receive a Cool Culture Family Pass for free and unlimited general admission, similar to a museum membership card, to 90 partner institutions, for use in out-of-school time. Cool Culture provides each school with Cool Culture Family Guides to distribute to families. Families also receive Cool Culture’s monthly email newsletter with family event listings around the city. Our website is a valuable family resource with museum scavenger hunt cards and activity plans.

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Does staff get a Cool Culture Family Pass?
The Cultural Liaison, art teachers, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classroom teachers and paraprofessionals that work in those classes may register for a Cool Culture Family Pass. We have a strict agreement with our partnering museums, and cannot extend the pass further.

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Is my school eligible for Literacy Without Walls?
Schools must receive school-wide Title 1 funding to be eligible to enroll. Schools that have 75% or more of students eligible to receive free or reduced fee lunch will receive enrollment preference. For information about whether your school receives Title I funding, please inquire with the school principal.

Ineligible for Literacy Without Walls? Visit our website to find other ways families can make free or low cost visits to cultural institutions.

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Can we take field trips using our Cool Culture passes?
No. Passes are for use by families. No more than 3 families may travel and enter together to a cultural institution. Cultural institutions view larger groups as they would a class trip, which is not covered by the Cool Culture Family Pass and requires separate arrangements with the museum’s group services department. If more than 3 families travel to an institution together, they may not be granted admission.

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What happens once my school submits enrollment materials? How do we register our families?
After a school’s enrollment materials have been processed, Cool Culture will contact the Cultural Liaison and let them know if the school has been accepted. In September, all Literacy Without Walls Cultural Liaisons will receive registration materials that each participating family must complete in order to receive their personalized Cool Culture Family Pass. Liaisons can collaborate with staff at their school to help every Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten family complete a registration form. The Liaison will deliver the forms to Cool Culture offices by the stated deadlines.

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Do schools have to use Title 1 funding to pay for the program free?
No, schools may pay from other funds. A purchase order or check must be submitted to Cool Culture once the schools receive confirmation of their enrollment. In order to stay true to the intent of the program, schools enrolling in Cool Culture may NOT request donations from parents to cover the cost of Literacy Without Walls. If your PTA raises funds for the arts and other programs, it should be completely unconnected to Cool Culture (and the Cool Culture Family Pass registration process).

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Are there discounts for small schools?
There are no discounts available. As a non-profit organization, we do own fundraising to keep the program fee as low as possible.

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Why can't Cool Culture provide passes for first grade or above?
Cool Culture currently enrolls 50,000 families in grade K and below, annually. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the capacity to expand the program.

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Our program is aligned with city-wide arts and education and parent involvement standards and NYS Common Core Learning Standards in social/emotional development, approaches to learning, and literacy.