Summer is here and with it the end of our 2018-2019 programming, a time for reflection, learning and planning.

As I approach the one year anniversary of my role as Executive Director, I reflect on all we have learned throughout the year, examine what has worked, where we can improve, and how we plan for what’s next.

Throughout the school year, our team regularly meets with education, arts, and philanthropic leaders about our Rehearsal for Life programs (Urban Improv, Youth Unscripted, Re:action Assemblies, and Freelance Players). From principals and teachers at each of our Boston Public School Partners, to parents and program alumni, to grantmakers and change-makers in our city, there is always something to learn about how we can support our students and communities better.

If you know me, you know I ask a lot of questions! How do you describe what Rehearsal for Life does, why is it valuable to you, what sets it apart from other worthy organizations in the creative youth development space, how can we serve you better?

While we implement formal evaluations for all of our programming, what I find motivating is what I hear most often in informal conversations with those we serve: “no one does what you do, and we wish there was more of it.”

BPS Partner Principal at the Haley Pilot School Kathleen Sullivan shares that our Urban Improv program expertly reinforces all their school priorities from theater-arts to social justice and social and emotional learning. She asks “when can we extend our program to 3rd graders?”

Urban Improv alumni Darrus Sands, Program Manager of the Start Strong Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission, affirms the safe spaces we create today as we did for him  that engage young people in thinking about themselves and the world around them differently, a process that can take years of trust-building elsewhere.

Longtime and loyal Board of Advocate member Freelance Players’ parent Heidi Hughey credits the Freelance Players for giving her daughter confidence over 19 years ago. Today’s parents echo Heidi’s sentiments, “The community of kids seems incredibly supportive, inclusive, and caring for one another. The kids exude a sense of belonging and confidence and a willingness to take creative risks.”

Rehearsal for Life is living up to its name and offering the important creative practice that is needed for our young people to understand themselves and their communities better, to be able to find their voice and their self-efficacy, and to feel and create belonging for all.

Thank you to all of our supporters this past year, individuals and grant-funding organizations alike who have invested in our shared vision of “empowered youth creating diverse and inclusive communities where all voices are heard.” Thank you to the amazing Rehearsal for Life staff of professionals and artists who change lives daily.

As summer progresses, I look forward to sharing the work of the coming year as we update and improve curriculum and deepen collaborations with the students, families and organizations we serve.

Francie Karlen

Executive Director