learn / 2020
The Young Shakespeareans (TYS)
Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Young Shakespeareans (a project of Community Partners)
TYS’ on-site and online after-school program uses the richness of Shakespeare’s works to create early, challenging, and formative learning experiences in LA’s Title 1 elementary and middle schools, and to promote exposure and high expectations regardless of students’ ethnicity, origin, or income level. Our 12-week programs culminate in high-quality theatrical productions of Shakespearean plays which they perform in the original (abridged) Elizabethan text for their school, families, and extended communities. Your support will enable us to serve more partner schools and deliver full Performing Arts and Production Design components in each of them, greatly impacting our number of participating students, and reach to the school communities, families, and surrounding neighborhoods.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Partner Schools:
- Nevin Avenue Elementary School, 1569 E. 32nd St, Los Angeles CA 90011
- West Vernon Avenue Elementary School, 4312 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles CA 90037
- John Adams Middle School, 151 W. 30th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
We work closely with our schools, which begin with each school’s Principal, who dedicates the necessary funds and workspace(s), selects a Liaison Teacher, Classroom Teacher, and Support Staff to work in concert with TYS.
(P=Principal, C=Classroom Teacher, L=Liaison Teacher, S=Staff, F=Family)
- Select Participating Students (P,C,L)
- Order “No Fear Shakespeare” books (L)
- Use TYS Guide to teach basic Play elements (Plot, Characters, Themes) (C)
- Impart Rules of Commitment (C&L)
- Obtain Parental Consents (L)
- Support “No Fear Shakespeare” reading (C,L,F)
- Encourage Program Attendance/Participation (C,L,F)
- Coordinate/Attend all Workshops (L)
- Distribute program materials (L)
- Prep Workshop Spaces (S)
- Volunteer where Needed (eg. Hair/Makeup) (S,F)
What is the need you’re responding to?
“The streets are waiting for our kids.”
We hear this way too often from too many parents in our service community. We select schools in Los Angeles neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by poverty, homelessness, and gang violence.
TYS begins in 4th grade providing early and formative intervention; we seize the opportunity to raise our students’ awareness of their innate talents, challenge their academic and social skills, and provide a positive peer community. They discover innumerable ways to apply their skills and energy and expand their self-expectation and sense of possibility.
TYS successfully instills critical life skills – resiliency, discipline, teamwork, respect for self, and others. Our partner school communities repeatedly confirm that TYS makes a vast difference by teaching our students about themselves and the world around them, and how to navigate their way within it powerfully.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
We achieve our goals. We built a curriculum that really works; builds strong, trusted partnerships with our schools; has trained passionate teaching artists; and continually expands our reach and program offerings.
We empower our students. At the request of “alumni” from different schools, we supported their approach to their school principal, enlisted the help of their magnet coordinator, and added John Adams Middle School downtown to our roster. We are creating paths to grow with our students through high school and beyond.
We pursue support. We enjoy funding by committed donors, foundations and public agencies (including California Community Foundation, California Arts Council, Neighborhood Councils). We have pro-bono relationships with critical vendors. We are creating strategic relationships with LA’s leading arts organizations, pursue the support of local politicians, and continue to develop dedicated volunteers. We honor our donors and make every dollar count.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
TYS demands a commitment to step way beyond one’s comfort zone, thus cultivating a sense of empowerment and agency rarely delivered by after-school arts programs.
“School” becomes a vibrant center for its students, parents, and surrounding residents; in fact, TYS is cited as a factor in improved attendance, and designations of California “Blue Ribbon School” Awards.
To continue engagement upon LAUSD’s COVID-19 closure, we rapidly launched a Virtual Program which is enjoying 99% attendance. We’ll record/edit all final performances, turning difficult circumstances into a wonderful opportunity where, together with our students, we can rightfully proclaim “IF I CAN DO SHAKESPEARE, I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!”
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
TYS is a proven success in using the broad platform of the theatrical arts to attract and hold attention, develop and utilize academic and life skills, cultivate and apply critical thinking independently and collaboratively, and provide a truly transformative experience for all involved. Our goal is to expand our reach – more schools, more students, more programming.
We measure our success via both anecdotal and data-driven methods. We track and enjoy high attendance, re-enrollment from year to year, and subsequent enrollment of siblings, cousins, and friends. We conduct written surveys (Student self-assessment; Classroom/Liaison Teacher assessment of each student) at the beginning and end of each program, as well as our Principals’ assessments of overall school impact and written surveys of our Teaching Artists at the end of each program. Our executive team reviews all information to remain current regarding the effectiveness of our curriculum and delivery, and we implement adjustments if/as needed.
The comments we regularly hear are equally important indicators of our success:
- 2nd and 3rd graders press to know when they can become Young Shakespeareans;
- Our Alumni regularly return to share their latest achievements;
- Teachers report that their TYS students’ classroom participation and confidence notably increase;
- Principals report that parents push for months for the program to begin;
- Parents report that their previously shy children become more outgoing and willing to try new things;
- Local residents tearfully thank us for bringing pride to their neighborhood;
- Affluent audience members are surprised, impressed, and inspired by our students’ poise, and reconsider the possibilities that exist in the neighborhoods we serve.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- Arts education
- Enrollment in afterschool programs
- Student proficiency in English & Language Arts
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to PLAY
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Communications support
- Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation