Cleveland Foundation approves $500,000 grant – first in new mastery-based arts initiative – to Cleveland Public Theatre to expand successful theater programs for CMHA youth


CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation today launched its new mastery-based arts initiative through a $500,000 grant to Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT), expanding two highly successful theater programs for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) youth. The CPT grant exemplifies the foundation’s enhanced focus on providing equitable access to mastery-based arts programs for underserved youth in the core city of Cleveland.

“The Cleveland Foundation’s new mastery-based arts initiative reflects our vision that children in every low-income neighborhood in Greater Cleveland should have the same access to high-quality arts education that their peers do,” said Ronn Richard, President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation. “We believe that all art forms, from theater and music to dance and painting, help children hone developmental skills they will apply throughout their lives.”

The foundation’s funding supports the growth of the Brick City Theatre program, which guides students ages 5 to 14 through the creation and production of four plays at each site over the course of a year. The grant allows the program to triple the number of CMHA youth served from 300 to 1,000 across six public housing estates over the next two years. Brick City currently operates at Lakeview Terrace on the West Side and Woodhill Homes on the East Side.

In addition, the grant allows the Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP), which works with at-risk teens to write their own play and perform it on tour throughout the city, to scale up from a summer program to year-round.

“This infusion of support by the Cleveland Foundation is going to have a huge impact on youth in our community, providing powerful learning opportunities that address core academic skills, while also teaching core life skills of empathy, communication and team work,” said Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director, Cleveland Public Theatre. “We have learned that youth are ready and willing to step up to high expectations when they are highly regarded and given a platform to voice their thoughts, feelings and dreams. Youth build true and lasting esteem when they directly experience excellence and the rewards of high performance.”

The STEP expansion will include engagement of a resident STEP alumni ensemble to serve as interns for the program. STEP will also extend its technical theater and design job training module to year-round, adding employment preparation and job coaching modules.

“The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority welcomes and appreciates this opportunity provided by the Cleveland Foundation to expand the performing arts programming provided by CPT to four additional CMHA sites,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, CMHA CEO. “These programs allow residents of all ages to come together to learn and enjoy all the wonderful things that the performing arts offers.”

“This grant is the first in our ongoing work to connect children with the incredible artistic talent we have in our community, to make Cleveland a place where the arts are an avenue for kids to become healthy, educated, happy, productive people,” said Lillian Kuri, Program Director for Arts and Urban Design at the Cleveland Foundation.

A documentary short highlighting the Brick City Theatre program at Lakeview Terrace is being released for public viewing today in conjunction with this grant announcement of the program’s expansion. The 2015 documentary short PLAYGROUND features I’ll be there, a play created last year by Brick City students that focused on violence against youth in the city. The film was produced by StoryLens Pictures.


Cleveland Foundation

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2015 grants of $95 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture, economic development and purposeful aging – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, visit and follow us on, Twitter @CleveFoundation and Instagram @CleveFoundation.