5 School Theatre Programs Awarded Racial Equity Grant

Students perform a musical number from The Wiz.

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) has selected five high schools for the 2023-24 Pathway grant program, an initiative fostering racial equity through school theatre. Building on the success of the previous year, programs in California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. received $10,000 grants to support impactful productions encouraging dialogue around racial equity, continuing to champion diversity and inclusion in the arts.

The selected schools for the upcoming academic year are:

  • Alisal High School; Salinas, Calif.; Presenting “La Cortina de la Lechuga”
  • Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts; Miami, Fla.; Presenting “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play”
  • Detroit School of Arts; Detroit; Presenting “The Wiz”
  • Eastmoor Academy High School; Columbus, Ohio; Presenting “The Wiz”
  • KIPP DC College Preparatory; Washington, D.C.; Presenting “Chicago: Teen Edition”


What Is the Pathway Grant Program?

The Pathway program, inspired by the late producer Craig Zadan, aims to create opportunities for students in communities of color to work with industry professionals while performing works that address issues of diversity and racial equity.

“The Pathway program is a catalyst for change, providing students with a platform to explore and express their unique voices,” says Dr. Jennifer Katona, ETF President and Educational Theatre Association Executive Director. “By supporting these schools, we continue to elevate stories that reflect the rich diversity of our nation and foster inclusive dialogue.”

Championing Diversity and Inclusion

Each school will hire at least two professionals of color, who will serve as mentors to students during their productions. This mentorship component proved highly successful in the pilot phase, creating lasting relationships and opening pathways to potential career opportunities.

“We want our students to feel like their interest in theater does not make them an oddity,” said Elena Muzzi, Theater Director at KIPP DC College Preparatory, in the school’s application, underscoring the importance of representation. “We hope by working closely with actors and behind the scenes technicians that look like them, it will help our students see aspirations to pursue a career in musical theater as valid and attainable.”

“On behalf of our authors and their estates for The Wiz and Chicago: Teen Edition, we are thrilled to once again be able to donate the rights for these three schools to perform their selected shows,” said Abbie Van Nostrand, Concord Theatricals’ senior vice president of client relations and community engagement. “It’s an honor to continue to sponsor the Pathway program and support these young theatre makers.”

Pathway is part of ETF’s broader mission to make quality theatre education accessible to all students. Funding for the Pathway grants is made possible by the Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, Ohio Arts Council, Disney Live Entertainment, Concord Theatricals, Broadway Licensing Global, and numerous private donors honoring Craig Zadan.