1812 Outreach

1812 Outreach is our unique, in-school theatre-education program that uses comedy's often-overlooked power to illuminate, empower, and unite today's students into tomorrow's leaders.

Winner of the 2016 Victory Foundation Barrymore Award and the 2012 George Bartol Arts Education Award,1812 Outreach is an in-school arts program that serves at-risk students at three Philadelphia public schools: South Philadelphia High School, The Widener Memorial School for Children with Disabilities, and The Franklin Learning Center. In operation since our inception, 1812 Outreach supplements the academic and the life skills curriculum at our partner schools by teaching students the basics of theater, including playwriting, acting, stage presence, and character development in weekly workshops.

These students are some of our community’s most vulnerable and most challenged youth, with limited or no access to the arts. 1812 Outreach opens up the power of communication and expression for students through the art of comedy and theatre, giving them a new perspective on how to learn and connect with their communities, their education, and themselves. By using theatre as a tool to unlock, create, and present story, these students find the skills and courage within themselves to live their own story with intelligence, purpose, and wonder.

Given the current financial instability of public education, programs like 1812 Outreach are an essential piece of a well-rounded education for public school students. 1812 Outreach seeks to bolster the arts for students with otherwise limited access to them. As a result of arts programs in schools, students have been shown to be more confident, more comfortable, and achieve higher grades. In particular, our program that focuses not just on theatre but on comedy works to help students see their world from a new perspective and find common ground with their peers while exploring their own self expression and boosting their confidence. 1812 Outreach and our partner schools guide these students to discover the power of the arts, and, specifically, the power of theatre and laughter to open their minds, change their perspectives, and introduce them to new ways of learning.

What Students are saying about 1812 Outreach

“While taking part in this program, I learned that I can do anything and exceed my expectations. At first, I was afraid to act but then I got through my fears and reached my goals and aspirations”
—11th grader at South Philly High Student

“This year I have been in a theatre program with 1812 Productions. It was fun. It taught me to have relationships with people.”
—Student at Widener Memorial School for Children with Disabilities

“I loved performing in 1812 Outreach! This has been the best day of my life…so far!”
—10th grader at South Philly High Student after performing an original play at Barnes and Nobles Bookstore

What teachers are saying about 1812 Outreach

“1812 Outreach made magic happen last year. Your generosity of time and talents made opportunities for excellent performance and self-expression that would never have happened otherwise. … The Work you did has provided a reference point for other creative projects.”
—Darcy Luetzow, Executive Director of TreeHouse Books

"Today as I took a walk through the local Walgreens, one of my students approached me, saying, 'Are we having Drama Club this Thursday?' When I first began teaching at South Philadelphia High School, the school had no Drama Club, and the vast majority of students attending had never seen a play, let alone performed in one. I am immensely grateful to 1812's Educational Outreach program for the wealth of opportunities they have provided to our students. Their presence in the classroom as teaching artists offer our students access to the world of arts that they are not only lacking in school, but in their lives as well. Whether seeing a live performance for the first time, or experiencing the thrill of being on stage, students involved with 1812's Educational Outreach have expressed that these moments have been some of the highlights of their lives! Parents have taken a greater interest in their child's education through the work of 1812; the pride the students show in their work is reflected in the faces of the parents who are seeing for the first time their child be excited about school.

South Philadelphia High School is recognized as a 'high-need' school, but we all feel tremendously fortunate for the opportunities provided by 1812--opportunities that more and more of our students are taking full advantage of.
—Mr. Michael Southerton, Teacher at South Philadelphia High School

Overall, 1812 Outreach serves approximately 160 students at three Philadelphia public schools, comprised of 67 young adults, 6 to 21 years old, who possess developmental, physical, or medical disabilities at Widener Memorial School, 15 English Language Learners at the Franklin Learning Center, and 80 students at South Philadelphia High School.

For more information about 1812 Outreach and its programs, please email Marla Burkholder, Education Director, at marla@1812productions.org