Greater Milwaukee Foundation awards grant to First Stage Theater Academy

Posted at 11:46 AM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 12:46:55-04

For the fourth summer in a row, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is providing grants to non-profits across our area to give more kids access to summer programs.

In total, grants of up to $1,200 were doled out to 29 nonprofits in the Milwaukee area.

"Students need some high-quality activities to do throughout the summer, when their parents are working or doing other activities," said Jeannie Fenceroy, Senior Manager of Education and Scholarships for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. 

Fenceroy said the grants allow students who otherwise wouldn't have access to summer programming to participate. The recipient organizations use the money to provide need-based scholarships.

"When we support and enrich our children with high-quality activities, we grow citizens who will give back to this community and who will make this community a better place to live," she added.

All the grants come from private donations.

One of this year's recipients is First Stage Theater Academy.

The theater academy serves roughly 2,000 students each year at locations in Milwaukee, Brookfield and Franklin, said Giana Blazquez, a Resident Teaching Artist at First Stage.

Blazquez said the eight-week, summer program at the Milwaukee location draws about 300 students.

Students learn acting theory and improvisation, but she said theater also encourages self confidence, public speaking skills, and empathy through the study of various characters.

Blazquez added that the grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation primarily helps with expanding access to the programs through transportation.

"Maybe students who aren't able to come here on their own, we're able to offer them a ride here and home every day," Blazquez said.

10-year-old student Madison Jones has been participating in summer programs at first stage for seven years.

"I always make lots of friends and I really like the teachers," Jones said.

She added she supports more of her peers having access to theater classes.

"I'm learning acting theory, I'm learning about Shakespeare, and also musical theater and some voice and movement stuff," Jones said.