Through the Education Outreach program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, thousands of high school and collegiate theatre artists are coming together to help create change nationwide and within their communities, red buckets in hand.
In addition to giving curtain-call speeches and holding red buckets for donations after school productions, students host giveaways, auctions, pop-up versions of the Broadway Flea Market, and concert events modeled after Broadway Backwards. Using a toolkit created especially for students and teachers, the fundraising efforts are easy to execute and adaptable for any size school.
And these students have been making an astonishing impact, raising $3.2 million and counting since the program started 20 years ago. These dollars are providing lifesaving medication, healthy meals, and emergency financial assistance to 450 AIDS and family service organizations, serving men, women, and children in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.
“You can share your talent and your voice and your heart,” Wesley Taylor, star of SpongeBob SquarePants, said. “Being an artist, we have this unique opportunity to help others in need and those in crisis. Make a contribution through art and giving! It’s a huge priority for all of us on Broadway, and I think it should be a priority for students, too.”
At the high school level, more than 25 chapters across the country raise money for Broadway Cares through the International Thespian Society. Lauren Herwitz, a 2018 graduate of Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Florida, and a Florida State Thespian board member, helped lead her troupe in creating collectible pins sold at state festival and benefiting Broadway Cares.
“The arts are such a communal thing, and one way we come together and create change is with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS,” Herwitz said. “It’s amazing that doing something as simple as creating buttons can connect us to the Broadway community and give healthy meals and medication to people in need across the country.”
Michael Carmine Di Bianco, Education Outreach coordinator at Broadway Cares, said, “It’s inspiring to see creative young artists across the country joining the Broadway community and connecting to their audiences while helping individuals and organizations in need.”
Broadway Cares has created a series of online resources, including videos, tips and tricks, to inspire students and teachers to get involved. Interested individuals are encouraged to reach out to Di Bianco at email@example.com or (212) 840-0770, ext. 227, to get started.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources, and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.