While many studies have found that arts engagement helps all young people to achieve in many aspects of life, the National Endowment for the Arts looked closely at existing studies of low-income youth.

First lady Michelle Obama advocates physical activities and arts participation. Here she dances at a Let's Move! rally with Iowa students. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

“Arts education doesn’t take place in isolation,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman in a statement. “It has to take place as part of an overall school and education reform strategy.”

The study found 74 percent of students in the low-income group who had arts experiences by the eighth grade were more likely to plan to go to college. Half of the low-income group with arts exposure expected to go on to professional fields such as law or education.

The group also volunteered more, were more likely to read a newspaper once a week and 45 percent had voted in the 2004 national election.