NBC’s new series Rise, based on a true story, is about a high school drama teacher tackling the prejudices and systems of a small, poor town. It’s about the cultural ecosystems of small towns, and how to make change happen within them. It’s not perfect—the writer consciously made the main character straight, despite the actual teacher it’s based on being openly gay—but judgment will have to wait until it actually comes out in February.
In honor of the show’s debut, NBC has announced that they will be donating $10,000 to each of 50 high schools as grants to benefit their theater programs. They’ve named their grant initiative R.I.S.E. America for Recognizing and Inspiring Student Expression. Partnering with the Educational Theatre Foundation to administrate the process, they began taking applications from schools on January 10. Eligible high schools should apply at NBC.com/Rise before the closing date of February 6. Winners will be announced in March.
“This program is incredibly personal to me as someone whose own life was changed by a high school theatre program,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment to Variety Magazine. “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.”
The ETF is a national nonprofit to honor student achievement in theatre and enrich their theatre education experience.
Winning schools can use the grant money for their drama department at their discretion, including things like master classes, production expenses, and student travel. Drama is an expensive department in many high schools, sees few returns, and has less popular support than sports or IT.