ETF’s signature program continued to build sustainable middle school theatre programs across the country.

JumpStart Theatre

2022 represented a fresh start for ETF’s JumpStart Theatre program: After two years disrupted by the pandemic, all 45 schools in the program were able to stage spring musicals.

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Here’s how the program works: Five regional theatre partners administer JumpStart Theatre in nine states. After a rigorous application process, schools make a three-year commitment. Thanks to partners iTheatrics and Music Theatre International, each school receives $12,000 worth of services, training, mentoring, and support annually to produce a full-scale show for their community.

JumpStart Theatre also provides teacher stipends and modest budgets for sets and costumes. Students are involved in every aspect of the production: performance, costumes, sets, technical support, and design. The support continues for three straight years until the program becomes sustainable.

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A few highlights from 2022:

  • The University of Michigan School of Musical Theatre and Dance activated JumpStart Theatre in Detroit. Schools were able to participate in the full program for the first time since the partnership began in 2020, thanks to a generous gift from Hamilton producer and Detroit native Jeffrey Seller.
  • Alliance Theatre, the JumpStart Theatre regional partner in Atlanta, expanded into rural Brooks County, Ga., with a hybrid model of in-person bootcamp training and virtual mentoring.
  • Cincinnati JumpStart graduate schools received “boost grants” from a generous donor to ensure their nascent programs could ramp back up.

Both students and teachers carry the impact of JumpStart Theatre beyond the stage. See what participants have to say:

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“The 2022 JumpStart year was like a renaissance. After working around the restrictions and limitations brought about by the pandemic, our educators and their communities were energized, motivated, and ready to sing loud as they revitalized the spirits of their schools with their passion for musical theatre. Many of our partners saw marked differences in reading fluency, attendance, and general excitement to be back at school from their casts — something we’ve always known is a byproduct of arts in our schools.”

—Angelo Cerniglia, Education Director, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati

“One of our eighth graders has grown so much through the theatre program. He has some struggles in his content classes, with difficulty in focusing, reading, and staying within class boundaries. He is a resource student and receives support in his classes, but in theatre he has become a leader. He has gained a lot of confidence in his skills to read and memorize and being able to channel some of his body energy into the arts.”

— Innovation Middle School, San Diego

“Performing in the musical has forced me out of my comfort zone in a good way!”

— Turkeyfoot Valley School student, Maryland

JumpStart Theatre Impact


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Regional Partners

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© 2023 Educational Theatre Association