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Applying For Shakespeare In American Communities: Juvenile Justice

Grants of $15,000 – $25,000 will be awarded to 6-10 applicants to support theater education programs that reach young people in the juvenile justice system.


A group of people in protective masks stand together in a clearing in the woods. Some are raising their hands and others are looking at pieces of paper. There are picnic benches and twinkling lights hanging around them.
Photo Credit: California Shakespeare Theater

About Shakespeare in American Communities: Juvenile Justice

This opportunity is open to 501c(3) theater companies or organizations across the nation that have two years’ experience partnering with the justice system and engaging young people in theater education programs that illuminate the works of Shakespeare and addresses his work in a modern context. Activities must take place between August 1, 2023, and July 31, 2024. Grants of $15,000 – $25,000 will be awarded to 6-10 applicants. These awards will not require a nonfederal match of 1 to 1. Please see the guidelines for more information.

How to Apply

  1. 1

    Read the guidelines

    Read the guidelines below or download a Word copy.

  2. 2

    Submit your Intent to Apply

    Submit your Intent to Apply by Monday, January 9, 2023. Visit our grants portal, SmartSimple, to begin this process. Click here for detailed instructions on how to get set up in SmartSimple.

  3. 3

    Complete and submit the application form

    Complete and submit the application form by Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 11:59pm Central Time. If you are applying to both opportunities, an application for each opportunity must be submitted by this deadline.


Arts Midwest welcomes applications from all eligible organizations, including first-time applicants; organizations serving communities of all sizes, including rural and urban areas; and organizations with small, medium or large operating budgets.

Applicants must:

  • Be a 501(c)3 nonprofit, professional theater company located in the U.S. and the Native nations that share this geography.
  • Have a minimum of two years’ experience partnering with the justice system to provide theater education programs.
  • Compensate all professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation. (This requirement is in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor in part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations.)
  • Agree to acknowledge Arts Midwest and the National Endowment for the Arts in all programs and press materials related to funded engagements.
  • Have a valid Unique Entity ID via SAM.gov (free to acquire).
  • Comply with Federal eligibility requirements.

A theater company who is eligible for the Schools program may also submit an application for the Juvenile Justice program if they meet the requirements. There can be no overlapping programming or costs between the applications and budgets.

Arts Midwest is currently accepting applications for events occurring between August 1, 2023, and July 31, 2024. Applicants must:

1. Conduct educational theater programming that explores and illuminates Shakespeare’s text, addressing his work in modern context through frequent contact over a significant number of visits.

  • Examples of activities may include workshops, discussions, seminars, and residencies.
  • Activities may be in-person, socially distanced, or virtual.

2. Partner with at least one facility to reach youth in the juvenile justice system.

  • Examples of eligible facilities include detention centers, correctional facilities, court-appointed programs, treatment centers, transition centers, group homes, or educational schools/programs specifically for juvenile offenders or incarcerated youth.
  • Juvenile offenders are defined as youth (age 17 or younger) who have been found guilty of committing a delinquent act.

3. Engage a minimum of two teaching artists, staff, or personnel in theater education programming.

  • Activities must be be led by experienced teaching artists, staff, or personnel with strong credentials and experience working within the justice system.
  • Teaching artists will be required to complete a survey at the conclusion of the programming to evaluate the impact on youth.


Examples of eligible projects

  • An organization partners with the county’s juvenile correctional facility, offering a residency for youth that culminates in a performance for the youth’s families.
  • A theater company performs Romeo and Juliet at a boarding school for juvenile offenders, followed by weekly workshops for the duration of the semester.
  • An organization offers ongoing, twice-a-week workshops and theatre exercises at a short-term youth detention center.


Examples of ineligible projects

  • An organization offers programs only to individuals aged 18 or older.
  • Programs that are funded by another Arts Midwest grant, including the Shakespeare in American Communities: Schools program.
  • Programs funded by another federal source.

Applicants may request grant awards ranging from $15,000 to $25,000. These funds derive from Federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (CFDA #45.024: Promotion of the Arts_Grants to Organizations and Individuals).

An organization may apply to both the Schools program and the Juvenile Justice program. However, there must be no overlapping programming or costs between the applications and budgets.

Applicants will not be required to demonstrate matching funds on a 1:1 basis for their requested grant amount. (For example, if an applicant requests a $15,000 Shakespeare grant, the total project budget may also be $15,000.)

Examples of eligible expenses

Funding may support:

  • Fees for for educators, actors, facilitators, etc.
  • Production costs of props, costumes, set, etc.
  • A prorated portion of staff salaries.
  • Other direct costs associated with the production and educational programming.


Contact Arts Midwest at [email protected] with any inquiries about eligible expenses not listed above.


Examples of unallowable expenses

As a Federally funded program, unallowable uses of funds include, but are not limited to:

  • Overlapping project costs between federal awards, whether received directly from a federal agency or indirectly, such as through a state agency or other entity.
  • Entertainment costs, such as opening parties, receptions, or fundraisers designed to raise funds for your own organization and on behalf of another person, organization, or cause.
  • Refreshments, concessions, food, and alcohol.
  • Fellowships or cash prizes.
  • Payment for facilities, purchase of capital equipment, or non-project related administrative expenses.
  • Programs restricted to any organization’s membership; programs must be promoted and available to the general public.

Applications are reviewed by an independent advisory panel composed of a diverse group theatre peers and experts in the justice system. Panel composition changes annually.

Applicants are selected based on:

  • Artistic excellence and merit of programming. The panel will review the content of the theater education programming, the intent to illuminate Shakespeare’s text and address his work in modern context, and the frequency of contact over a significant number of visits.
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The panel will evaluate the applicant’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility as they relate to the proposed project. This could include commitment to racial, gender, and age diversity of the staff or personnel; equitable pay; relevant content and themes of the activities; accessibility accommodations; the consideration of the needs of students of different backgrounds, abilities, ages, and learning styles; etc.
  • The ability and capacity to carry out the project. The panel will consider the applicant’s ability to manage and implement their proposed programming. This could include the evidence of the organization’s past work with the justice system; qualifications of teaching artists, staff, or personnel; organizational capacity; proven fiscal responsibility; the proven ability to adapt to unforeseen challenges due to COVID-19 and beyond; etc.

Submit your intent to apply and application via Arts Midwest’s online grants portal, SmartSimple. Please note, there is an option to save and complete the application later. You will have the ability to add collaborators in the grants portal so you can work on the application as a team.

Click here for detailed instructions on how to get set up in SmartSimple.

The online account registration and application process will ask for the following information:

Account registration information

Applicant organization information:

  1. Address information
  2. Contact information
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  4. Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number: Registration for a UEI is free at SAM.gov.
  5. Organization mission statement
  6. Annual operating budget
  7. Other organization details (institution type, primary discipline, time zone, etc.)

Intent to apply information

  1. Plain language summary of your proposed project (1-2 sentences).
  2. Have you received a grant from Arts Midwest in the past?
  3. Your proposed program’s start and end dates.
    1. Programming must occur between August 1, 2023 and July 31, 2024.
    2. Note: Dates may be tentative. If exact dates are unknown, please provide a range of possible dates/months.
    3. Note: You will be able to edit/revise the production selection when you finalize your application.
  4. Grant request amount (between $15,000 and $25,000).
    1. Note: You will be able to edit this amount when you finalize your application.

Application information

Application details

  1. Anticipated adults served.
  2. Anticipated youths served.
  3. Age range of participants.
  4. Geographic areas reached.
  5. Streaming online accessibility (as applicable).


1. Organization description (2000-character limit)

  • Provide information about your organization’s mission, history, and achievements.

2. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and access statement (2000-character limit)

  • Please describe your organization’s efforts to further diversity, equity, inclusion, and access as it relates to your proposed project.

3. Description of educational activities (4000-character limit)

  • Describe, in detail, the content of each of the educational activities. Include where they will take place, the typical length, and frequency.
  • Share how these activities will explore and address Shakespeare’s work in modern context.
  • Describe the credentials and experience of teaching artists or other staff who will lead these activities.
  • Explain how you will address the needs of students of different backgrounds, abilities, ages, and learning styles.
  • If offering virtual or hybrid activities, describe how students will have access to the activities and how you will ensure participation and engagement.

4. Description of feasibility and capacity (4000-character limit)

  • Explain your organization’s background and experience in providing educational activities to youth in the justice system. Provide details about any existing relationships with facilities.
  • Describe the types of facilities you plan to partner with. Explain the level of security, the amount of time youth typically spend in the facility, if the youths’ participation in your programming is voluntary, etc.
  • Describe how your company has the ability to pivot the proposed programming in response to unforeseen challenges of COVID-19 or other barriers.

5. Relevant biographies (4000-character limit)

  • Provide brief details about key staff for your project, including the artistic director, education director, designers, teaching artists, etc.

Budget details

1. Organization’s total revenue (current fiscal year)
2. Organization’s total expenses (current fiscal year)
3. Organization’s total revenue (last fiscal year)
4. Organization’s total expenses (last fiscal year)
5. Project Budget

  • Enter details regarding expenses related directly to the performances and educational activities that are part of the proposed programming and incurred between the period of August 1, 2023 and July 31, 2024.

Supporting documentation

1. Program Director statement (one-page upload)

  • Discuss your company’s mission and goals in relation to this programming with the juvenile justice system.
  • Provide your perspective on the relevance of the proposed content and activities and how you will make Shakespeare’s work accessible to today’s youth.
  • As applicable, provide examples of your organization’s past experience with similar programming.

2. Letter of support (optional)

  • You may provide a letter from a facility, center, or program within the juvenile justice system explaining their commitment to partnering with your organization for the proposed programming.


Arts Midwest is now collecting applications through a new grants management platform called SmartSimple. Before you apply for a grant opportunity, you’ll need to register your organization in the system.


A person stands before an audience in the center of a circular outdoor stage, with mountains and trees in the background.
Photo Credit: Jay Yamada


Arts Midwest requests that all applicants apply online unless a disability prevents them from doing so. The platform we use, SmartSimple, has a dedicated Quality Assurance team that tests this platform, plus an outside consultant who does both accessibility and usability testing quarterly. They use assistive technologies such as the JAWS screen reader.

Arts Midwest works to ensure that grant guidelines, presentations, and any other written materials are created with accessibility principles in mind. Additionally, we are happy to provide materials in Braille, Large Print, or other formats with advance notice.

To ensure everyone has access to the application, Arts Midwest staff will work with applicants who wish to use other means to apply. Solutions we have previously implemented include filling out an adapted form in Microsoft Word and providing verbal responses that Arts Midwest will share via audio recording or transcription.

Contact us as early as possible to begin a conversation about how we can help make this opportunity accessible to you. Please contact Carly Newhouse, program & accessibility manager, at [email protected] or 612.238.8002.

Curious about what makes an activity accessible? Visit our Accessibility Center, especially the Handbooks + Checklists section, for resources and tips on accessible events, venues, and platforms.

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