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NBC Commits $500,000 to Support High School Theater Programs with Launch of R.I.S.E. AMERICA

Inspired by the network's upcoming Jason Katims drama RISE, which premieres Tuesday, March 13 and follows the effects a high school theatre department has on its surrounding community, NBC is launching R.I.S.E. America, a program that grants a half-million dollars to high school theatre programs across the country.

R.I.S.E. (Recognizing and Inspiring Student Expression) America will award 50 high schools a $10,000 grant that will enable them to enhance or revitalize their theatre 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 Theatre Foundation (ETF), an organization dedicated to shaping lives through theatre education. Eligible high schools can apply starting this morning at NBC.com/Rise. Applications will close on Tuesday, Feb. 6 with winning schools announced in March.

Below, view a video message from cast members Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Auli'i Cravalho and Damon J. Gillespie announcing the program:

"This program is incredibly personal to me as someone whose own life was changed by a high school theatre 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 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 theatre 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 theatre education across the country. Every child in America deserves access to theatre. Theatre 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 theatre programs beyond classroom instruction. This leaves an average shortfall of over $9,000 for schools to raise for their productions and educational activities.* 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 theatre program or a champion of theatre arts in their teaching staff in cases where a school's theatre program was cut because of budget constraints.

Eligible high schools can submit a video up to two minutes long celebrating their theatre 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.

*Results of 2017 survey of high school theatre programs conducted by the Educational Theatre Association


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