Established in 1995 by the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the A+ Schools Program began with 25 Pre-K–12 public schools that participated in an extensive four-year evaluation. The results of the initial evaluation, and the subsequent evaluation in the eighth year, attributed the success and sustainability of the program to the use of arts in school reform, the professional development and the network created to support teachers and schools.
In 2003, the A+ Schools Program moved from the Kenan Institute for the Arts to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2009, A+ became a program at SERVE. On July 1, 2010, the A+ Schools Program which had now grown to a network of more than 40 schools, moved to the N.C. Arts Council, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
Upon completion of the initial evaluation in 1999, other states began to express interest in the program. In 2000, the N.C. A+ Schools Program began a four-year process to assist the Kirkpatrick Foundation in establishing a statewide A+ Schools Program in Oklahoma. Today, the Oklahoma A+ Schools Program is strong with more than 70 schools. In 2001, the N.C. A+ Schools Program began a similar process with the Windgate Charitable Foundation to establish a statewide A+ Schools Program in Arkansas.
The A+ Schools Program continues to work with other non-N.C. schools, school districts, arts and cultural organizations and state departments of public instruction to establish A+ pilot sites across the country.