The Educational Theatre Association announces a significant expansion of its JumpStart Theatre program, thanks to a sizable personal donation from Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment. As a result of Mr. Greenblatt’s major gift, the initiative, which was initially launched as a scalable pilot program, will now have the resources to have a national impact. The expansion, and Mr. Greenblatt’s support, is being celebrated at “Thespians Go Hollywood,” a benefit cabaret to raise funds for growing access to theatre in underserved schools.
Mr. Greenblatt says, “I’m extremely proud to be getting in on JumpStart Theatre from the ground floor. As someone whose life was fundamentally enriched by a robust theatre program in my high school in Rockford, Illinois, I believe that bringing theatre to young people in as many schools as possible is vital. We know the powerful social and developmental benefits that kids get from the arts, and it’s up to us to fill in the gaps as public and government funding becomes more scarce. I can’t imagine how different my life and career would be had I not grown up with theatre and music, and if I can help bring that to other kids across the country nothing would make me happier. I hope my gift will encourage other theatre and television professionals, or anyone who values young kids having access to the arts, to join me in supporting this great program.”
JumpStart Theatre equips non-theatre teachers with the skills and resources to produce their school’s first musical through a proven combination of hands-on mentoring and boot-camp style training. The program was developed in partnership with NYC-based companies Music Theatre International and iTheatrics, piloted in Cincinnati, and will be expanded next to St. Louis and San Diego through partnerships with STAGES St. Louis and the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California.
“From the outset, the intention of JumpStart Theatre was to be sustainable and implemented in underserved middle schools nationwide,” says EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald. “My deepest appreciation goes to Bob Greenblatt for his leadership role in bringing our vision to life.”
Additionally, The Shubert Foundation recently announced a grant to support the expansion of the JumpStart Theatre program. In making the award Michael I. Sovern, president of The Shubert Foundation said, “The Shubert Foundation is proud and excited to help further this worthy endeavor.” It is the first time The Shubert Foundation has given a grant to an educational program outside of New York City.
EdTA is also announcing the launch of the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) making these donations particularly timely. “This is just the beginning,” adds Theobald. “ETF’s aim is to become the go-to philanthropy for theatre education in America.”
Research clearly indicates that students who participate in theatre grow their literacy, empathy, self-discipline, and self-confidence, putting them on a more positive life path yet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 28 percent of schools in high poverty areas offer theatre instruction.