Epic Theatre Ensemble
In 2016, the foundation provided support to Epic Theatre Ensemble, which uses an arts integration model that builds language and literacy skills, to improve students’ academic performance. The Epic model successfully accomplishes this integration of arts into academia by connecting professional artists to students in underserved communities in New York City. Epic operates three in-school, school-wide educational arts programs at underserved partner schools and provides supplemental programs to additional schools.
Epic reaches 2,000 students each year by providing the opportunity for teaching artists to partner with classroom teachers in English, History, and Economics classes. Students write and perform theater productions that incorporate academic lessons, and youth interested in participating in after-school theater programming can become a part of the Shakespeare Remix or Epic NEXT programs, which provide more intensive arts-plus-education interventions.
In 2016, the foundation’s support enabled Epic to further develop college access and persistence strategies to support high school students in its Shakespeare Remix program, including a full, grade-wide model at Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts (BHSWCA), one of Epic’s flagship partner schools. Epic serves Remix students during its 20-week after-school program with daily lessons and this year is providing college planning and support to each junior and senior.
During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 92 percent of Remix seniors applied to at least eight colleges and received acceptances to at least four. In the coming year, through its new grade-wide pilot at BHSWCA, Epic projects an 85 percent college acceptance rate for all seniors at the school, a 90 percent college matriculation rate for those students, and similar retention from freshman to sophomore year of college for REMIX students.