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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, 2024, and July 31, 2025. 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 Thursday, January 25, 2023 at 11:59pm Central Time. 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 Thursday, 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.

Who should apply? 

501c3 non-profit professional theater companies located in the U.S. or the Native Nations that share this geography and: 

  • Have a minimum of two years’ experience partnering with the justice system to provide theater education programs. 
  • Can compensate all performers and related or supporting 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 (UEI) via SAM.gov (free to acquire). 
  • Can comply with Federal eligibility requirements 

Arts Midwest is currently accepting applications for events occurring between August 1, 2024, and July 31, 2025. 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 activities 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 midway and conclusion of 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 grants are federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. 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). 

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.)  

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.   

Eligible expenses include: fees for educators, actors, facilitators, etc.; production costs of props, costumes, set, etc.; a prorated portion of staff salaries; other direct costs associated with the educational programming.  

Do not include unallowable expenses. 

Applications are reviewed by an independent advisory panel composed of a diverse group of arts and literature experts and other individuals with broad knowledge of community programs. Panel composition changes annually. 


Grantees 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. 
  • Depth of engagement. The panel will consider the content of the proposed activities; the credentials and experience of teaching artists or actors; ability to provide or adapt programming to reach juvenile offenders, and the adaptability of the programming to the practical barriers of partnering with the justice system. 
  • 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; 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.)

Required intent to apply information

  • Applicant organization details (EIN, UEI number from SAM.gov, annual operating budget, mission statement, organization location information).  
  • Project start and end dates  
  • Primary contact information  
  • Short summary of project activities  
  • Grant request amount  

Required application information

  • Summary and statistics for proposed activities  
  • Anticipated number of individuals served  
  • Accessibility accommodations  
  • Applicant organization, programming, and leadership narratives  
  • Project Budget 


There is a two-step application process. 

  • Submit an intent to apply by January 25. 
  • Submit a complete application by February 8. 


Arts Midwest staff will review for eligibility and completeness. We will follow up with any questions or corrections before applications proceed to the review stage. 


All complete and eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel. The panel will consider the following criteria: 

  • Artistic excellence and merit of programming 
  • Depth of project to engage audiences 
  • Ability and capacity to carry out the project 



All applicants will receive an email notification of award decisions in May 2024 following approval from Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors. 



Funded project activities occur between August 1, 2024, and July 31, 2025. Final reports are due about a month after conclusion of planned activities. 

Any changes or updates to planned activities should be communicated to Arts Midwest staff as early as possible.  



A preliminary event listing will be due 30 days before the project starts and a final report will be due 30 days after the project is completed. The final report consists of a final listing of events, statistics on audiences and artists, narratives, and a final budget. 


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 works to ensure that grant guidelines, presentations, and any other written materials are created with accessibility and disability experiences in mind. 

For all grant applications, we use an online platform called SmartSimple, unless applicants request another route. SmartSimple has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team and a consultant who helps test usability on a quarterly basis.  

We’ve used other tools for grant applications and are happy to work with you such as providing an adapted form in Microsoft Word or taking verbal responses.  

Please complete this form so we can help make a grant or program accessible to you.  

Visit our Accessibility Policy for more information on our commitment to accessibility.