Mission & History

For 50 years, COMPAS has put creativity in the hands of Minnesotans like you. Together, we’re ensuring everyone has the opportunity to make and experience art.

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A little white boy wearing glasses colors at a COMPAS program.


COMPAS delivers creative experiences that unleash the potential within all of us. 


Minnesota thrives when all of us have access to creative opportunities that enrich lives and communities.


In 1967, the National Endowment for the Arts funded a Poets in the Schools program with Molly Taylor (formerly LaBerge), leading to the birth of the Minnesota program. Initially housed under the Saint Paul Council of Arts and Sciences, it was spun off, and in 1974, programming evolved into COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts and Sciences). Offerings were expanded to include various art forms, including storytelling.  

In 2009, COMPAS merged with Young Audiences of Minnesota and, in 2018, VSA Minnesota. Both of those missions are embedded in the COMPAS vision today. With a dynamic and diverse roster of 130+ teaching artists, COMPAS is celebrated for the breadth of creative experiences it offers, its ability to be innovative and attract innovative and emerging art forms, and the variety of nonprofits and people it serves throughout the state.


Gold Transparency 2024 Candid. Seal

We participate in Candid, the online standard for nonprofit accountability. View our profile.

Charities Review Council: Meet Standards Seal

We are proud to meet the Charities Review Council standards for nonprofit transparency and excellence.


MSS Logo

COMPAS was honored to receive MSS MN’s 2023 Impact Award, “In recognition of our work to create a sense of belonging for the people MSS serves.” MSS serves adults with disabilities.


In 2020, COMPAS received Avivo’s Champion Award for our partnership to provide arts programming for adults living with mental illness.

President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities named COMPAS as an exemplary arts education organization in its report, “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.”

Oak Meadows Memory Garden Mosaic

COMPAS artist Anne Krocak and residents from Oak Meadows Senior Living Center won the Grand Prize in the 2014 national Senior Living Art Showcase competition sponsored by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) for the mosaic they created together titled “Memory Garden Mosaic.” The mosaic now welcomes visitors to Oak Meadows’ memory garden.

2012 Top Nonprofit Award

In 2012, COMPAS was ranked #6 by Philanthropedia (a division of Guidestar) on the list of high impact Minnesota non-profits for providing access to the arts.

Design & Health: International Academy Wards

The International Academy of Design & Health honored Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota along with its arts partners (including COMPAS) with the top award for “Use of Art in the Patient Environment.”

National Guild for Community Arts Education

As a National Guild member, COMPAS is committed to making high quality arts education accessible to all.

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COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

Minnesota State Arts Board LogoLegacy Amendment Logo

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.