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Project SUCCESS and 'Hamilton'

posted on Fri, Sep 7 2018 9:14 am by Project SUCCESS Staff

Project SUCCESS has long believed in the power of theater to inspire students around important life themes and to imagine their place in the world. Since 1994, Project SUCCESS has built strong partnerships with area theaters to enable more Minneapolis students and families to experience the power of theater. Through the incredibly generous donation of tickets from theater partners, and the work of Project SUCCESS in and out of the classroom to share the experiences with students and families and remove barriers (i.e. cost, childcare, transportation), students and families are able to see inspiring performances that stimulate discussion of real-life issues, help them dream about their futures, and connect them with the larger community.

Because of Project SUCCESS’ commitment to sharing the power of theater with students, three years ago a number of community leaders, after seeing the production in New York City, emphatically told Adrienne Diercks, Executive Director of Project SUCCESS, “Young people in Minneapolis must see Hamilton!” They spoke about the quality and energy of the performance, the diversity of the cast, and most importantly the story that was being told: the immigrant story, one of loss, legacy, perseverance, and hope. Everyone was talking about the power of the story and how completely inspiring it would be for our students.

“I’M YOUNG, SCRAPPY AND HUNGRY AND I’M NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT.”*

This line from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton could be the chorus of every Project SUCCESS student’s theme song. In Hamilton’s high-energy contemporary style, these lyrics echo the values on which Project SUCCESS was founded — every student has a shot, and we help them rise up and take it.

For the past three years, Adrienne and the Project SUCCESS team have vigorously pursued the dream of bringing Hamilton to Minneapolis students. And now, we are proud to share that 5,000 area students will participate in two school matinee performances — and related in-class curriculum — when they come to experience Hamilton at the Orpheum Theater through the Hamilton Education Program.

The Hamilton Education Program in Minnesota was coordinated by Project SUCCESS in partnership with Hamilton producers and The Public Theater, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, The Rockefeller Foundation and Broadway Across America. Local Hamilton programming and access to performances through Hennepin Theatre Trust are made possible by major grants from Aroha Philanthropies, Target, the Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf Family Foundations.

The two student matinee performances are part of the structured Hamilton Education Program, through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which provides curriculum materials in American History and English classes, and requires students to create performances focused on the characters; attend the show; and submit their project materials to the collections managed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

Project SUCCESS had a goal to bring all Minneapolis Public School (MPS) students to see Hamilton. While this dream wasn’t able to be realized due to the popularity of this show and the criteria of the Hamilton Education Program, Project SUCCESS is grateful to have worked with the Gilder Lehrman Institute to ensure every Project SUCCESS student eligible for the Hamilton Education Program will be able to attend. At this point, all tickets have been assigned to designated schools for matinee performances per curriculum partner, Gilder Lehrman’s, guidelines. For further information visit www.gilderlehrman.org.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute offers the Hamilton Education Program experience to Title I high schools at which 40% or more students receive free or reduced cost lunch. In order to take part in the Hamilton experience, students must attend a school eligible for the program, must be enrolled in a course that addresses U.S. History, and must complete the EduHam curriculum, including the submission of a final project. Of the nine Project SUCCESS MPS partner high schools, seven were eligible based on the Gilder Lehrman criteria and all seven of those schools were chosen by Gilder Lehrman to attend. Washburn and Southwest were not eligible based on Gilder Lehrman criteria.

Funded through the Project SUCCESS Dreams to Futures Initiative for program expansion, the following Minneapolis Public School District Project SUCCESS partner schools will be attending the September 27 matinee performance:

  • Thomas Edison High School
  • Patrick Henry High School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • South High School

The following Minneapolis Public School District Project SUCCESS partner schools will be attending the October 4 matinee performance:

  • Longfellow High School
  • North High School
  • Wellstone International High School

Project SUCCESS is working with our partner schools to support every Project SUCCESS student who is eligible to attend by sponsoring their ticket, lunch, and transportation to the production. Project SUCCESS will be using the production and experience of Hamilton as a springboard for discussions, helping students dream and create plans for their futures.

Bringing students to Hamilton is a major milestone in our 24 year legacy of providing students with meaningful theater experiences supported by professional curriculum. Theater and art are powerful. Why is Hamilton such a major milestone? Almost immediately, Hamilton entered the lives of adults and children all over the country and became the hottest ticket in town. It is so right that due to our partners coming together, 5,000 students will have access to the hottest ticket in town. It’s an experience that will affect them today as they engage in conversations around the themes of the show — and something they will remember, and benefit from, for years to come. Students involved in the arts statistically have better academic outcomes, higher career goals and are more civically engaged than those who aren’t. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that arts engagement can help narrow the achievement gap, contributing to graduation rates, college completion rates, and setting students up for greater employment and volunteer opportunities.

* My Shot. Miranda, Lin Manuel. Hamilton: An American Musical. Atlantic Records, 2015.

Hamilton Education Program – Minneapolis SPONSORS 
The Hamilton Education Program in Minnesota was coordinated by Project SUCCESS in partnership with Hamilton producers and The Public Theater, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, The Rockefeller Foundation and Broadway Across America. Local Hamilton programming and access to performances through Hennepin Theatre Trust are made possible by major grants from Aroha Philanthropies, Target, the Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf Family Foundations.

About Hamilton 
Hamilton is an American musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow. The modern way Hamilton’s story is told along with talented cast of mostly black and Latino actors has led to more young people coming away from the show with a changed view of America and themselves. It instills in them a sense of civic ownership and speaks to them on a personal level. Perhaps most important, Hamilton teaches young people about love, loss, legacy. In a word: life.

About Project SUCCESS 
Project SUCCESS is a youth-development organization that works with 14,000 students in 19 Minneapolis public middle and high schools each year. Project SUCCESS motivates and inspires young people to dream about the future, helps them take steps to get there and gives them the tools they need to achieve their goals. Through goal-setting workshops every month in English/Language arts classrooms, professional and student theater experiences, and experience learning opportunities, students build life skills, supportive relationships, confidence, and motivation, and graduate with plans for their futures. Project SUCCESS believes in the power of theater to illuminate the world and uses professional theater as a tool to inspire students, help them look at the real-life issues they face, demonstrate they are members of a larger community and act as a springboard for discussion in the classroom workshops and at home. The organization is currently planning a major program expansion to double and deepen its impact on students.