NBC is launching R.I.S.E. (Recognizing and Inspiring Student Expression) America, a program that grants a half-million dollars to high school theater programs across the country.
It was inspired by NBC's upcoming drama, "Rise," which premieres Tuesday, March 13 and follows the effects a high school theater department has on its surrounding community.
R.I.S.E. America will award 50 high schools a $10,000 grant that will enable them to enhance or revitalize their theater programs. The winning schools can use the grant money to cover various critical needs, including master classes and production expenses.
To administer the grant applications and award process, NBC has partnered with the Educational Theater Foundation (ETF), an organization dedicated to shaping lives through theater education. Eligible high schools can apply at NBC.com/Rise. Applications will close on Tuesday, Feb. 6 with winning schools announced in March.
“This program is incredibly personal to me as someone whose own life was changed by a high school theater program,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “I wholeheartedly support the work of the ETF and have seen the effect of their initiatives on thousands of students. I’m proud that ‘Rise’ will be more than just an uplifting show about a high school drama program, but, through this initiative, will also have an impact on the lives of real students in 50 high schools.”
“From the start, I wanted to find a way to support the types of schools and students whose stories we were telling,” said Jason Katims, who serves as executive producer and showrunner. “I couldn’t be more thrilled, or feel more passionately, about this partnership and cause. The support Bob and NBC have shown to help make a real difference for schools and theater programs around the country shines a light on their vital importance.”
“We are honored to partner with NBC, along with Jason and the ‘Rise’ team, to support theater education across the country. Every child in America deserves access to theater. Theater teaches essential skills, such as collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking, that have far-reaching positive effects on a student’s life long past high school,” said ETF President Julie Cohen Theobald.
“Only 33 percent of school districts provide financial support to high school theater programs beyond classroom instruction. This leaves an average shortfall of over $9,000 for schools to raise for their productions and educational activities*," Theobald continued. "The R.I.S.E America grants can be a life-saver for schools in underserved communities with struggling programs and a game-changer for schools with established programs, enabling them to take a major step up in excellence.”
To qualify, a high school must have an existing theater program or a champion of theater arts in their teaching staff in cases where a school’s theater program was cut because of budget constraints.
Eligible high schools can submit a video up to two minutes long celebrating their theater program and a 500-word essay explaining why their school should be awarded the grant and how they will use the $10,000 should they win. The final component is a letter of recommendation from a school principal or administrator endorsing the application.
The winning schools will be announced in March and will receive the grant funds to support their programs this calendar year.
From Jason Katims, executive producer and showrunner of “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood,” and “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller comes a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. The series is inspired by a true story, and stars Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Auli’i Cravalho, Damon J. Gillespie, Marley Shelton, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Amy Forsyth, Casey Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joseph Tippett and Shirley Rumierk.
Jason Katims serves as executive producer and showrunner. Jeffrey Seller, Flody Suarez and Michelle Lee executive produce.
About the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF)
ETF provides essential financial support to enhance excellence in theater education and to expand access to school theater programs for every child, putting them on a more positive life path. ETF is focused on three areas: JumpStart Theater – to create sustainable musical theater programs where there previously were none; need-based grants to schools – to provide teaching and performance resources and equipment in under-resourced schools; and, merit and need-based grants to individuals - to nurture the next generation of theater teachers and artists.
*Results of 2017 survey of high school theater programs conducted by the Educational Theater Association