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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Theater, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Handful Players is a free after-school and summer children’s musical theater program committed to help inner-city youth develop critical life skills, improve their self-esteem, and find their creative voices through theater performance.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, CA; especially children from the Western Addition

Programs: Statement of program service accomplishmentsprogram service: musical theater programhandful players received $ 58,950 of donated professional services and $47,949of use of facilities to conduct its program in addition to the cash contributions and donated goods. 1. Conduct student workshops. Handful players conducted a total of 682 hours of free musical theater workshops providing inner city youth the opportunity to express themselves creatively and interact positively with other youth and adults. Each workshop was led by professional teaching artists who instructed the children on improvisation, acting, singing, poetry and spoken word, dance, clowning, and puppetry. The children actively participated hands-on in the theater process, collaborating with the playwrights to craft the plays, making choices about the movement and expression of their characters in the plays, and designing costumes and sets. They also had the opportunity to interact collaboratively with parents and adult volunteers on varied activities involved in the theater production. Handful players provided the musical theater program in a residency at one san francisco public schools for one 2nd grade, three 3rd grade classes and in after-school and summer programs for 13 san francisco western addition youth organizations with children from over 20 public and charter schools in san francisco. 2. Reach out to underserved youth: handful players worked with a total of 639 children ages 5 -17; most are underserved children in san franciscos western addition who are african-american or latino, living in public housing, and have only one parent living at home with no more than a high school-level education. They live in a distressed community still riddled by gangs and violence. The youth therefore lack traditional mentorship and have little exposure to cultural events and theater. 3. Commission original plays. Handful players commissions original plays by talented playwrights so that children can be involved in the creation of a play inspired by their community's cultural heritage. During january 2014-may 2014, handful players commissioned the acclaimed poet/playwright, chinaka hodge, to write the play jumping jaq fresh, a play with jazz music addressing the achievement gap between different groups, inequities in opportunities, and collaborative efforts to level the playing field and overcome low expectations. The plays themes reflect the learning objectives set by the principal at john muir elementary school (where the children from the western addition beacon center attend. Handful players also commissioned chinaka hodge to write 4 short plays based on the curriculum for the 2nd and 3rd grades at spring valley science elementary school, including their spanish and chinese speaking classes. The plays were based on books selected by the teachers, with lessons that included: consequences of bullying, benefits of patience, accepting cultural differences, and the adventures of science exploration. During june 2014 august 2014, handful players commissioned the talented chinaka hodge to write 6 short plays based on the summer reading list of the momagic collaborative of western addition youth programs. The plays, which included song and dance, were based on travel, exploration, and self-discovery themes in the selected books, including amazing grace, tar beach, flat stanley: japanese ninja surprise, shades of black, and city by the bay. 4. Perform at community events. The workshops culminated in community performances by the students accompanied by professional jazz musicians. Each performance brings together a diverse san francisco audience numbering from 75 to 350. Following our may performance at the african american cultural center, we hosted a free reception to help strengthen community bonds. During the year, handful players performed our original plays by chinaka hodge and some choreographed dance pieces at the following 19 western addition community and school events: *black history celebration at booker t washington community center, february, 2014*western addition celebration black history (booker t and rec-connect youth performed) at kabuki hotel, february, 2014 *season finale- dance , new traditions after- school program, april 2014*season finale performance at spring valley science school (4 classes), april 2014*season finale performance at excel at dr. William cobb after- school program (2 classes), may 2014*season finale performance at margaret hayward rec-connect, may 2014*season finale performance, excel after school rosa parks school, may 2014*season finale full performance at african-american art and culture complex, may 2014*season finale performance, booker t washington community center, may, 2014*summer youth showcase, western addition beacon center (4 theater and dance classes), july, 2014*summer youth showcase, up on top at the tenderloin community center july, 2014*san francisco summer youth showcase (performances by 9 youth groups working with handful players) at jewish community center theater, july 2014*summer youth showcase, african american art and culture complex, august 2014*summer youth showcase, booker t. Washington community center, august 2014*thanksgiving celebration, western addition beacon center, november 2014*season final performance, magiczone at ella hill hutch community center, dec 2014*season finale and holiday performance, new traditions after- school program, dec 2014*season finale and holiday performance, margaret hayward rec-connect, dec 2014*holiday youth show, western addition beacon center, december 20145. Sponsor cultural enrichment activities: handful players also inspires and motivates the children by taking them to professional productions and exposing them to cultural resources that would be inaccessible otherwise. We attended:* christmas carol at a. C. T. , december, 2014* cinderella performed by the african american shakespeare company at the buriel clay theater december, 2014

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

The experience with Handful Players was remarkable. my Children absolutely enjoyed being apart of such a wonderful program & Judith Cohen is great. Handful Players has had such a positive influence on my children...they've met new friends, learned stage presence, acting, self expressions, & learned how to over come shyness. I'd recommend Handful Players to all parents, so that they can give their children the oppotunity to experience such a close net social environment for youth. Handul Players is the place to be!

4 CommunityGrow

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love Handful Players! They help kids find their creative voice, build self-esteem and learn skills for getting ahead in life. Kids just want to have fun and express themselves. They also learn team work, focus and personal responsibility. What a great opportunity! Every kid loves to be a part of this. It really shows when they get on the stage. Great job Judith! Great program! Well deserving of every kudo!

8

Former staff

Rating: 5

I have worked as a teaching artist with Handful Players, and I wholeheartedly support this organization's mission. Handful Players brings high quality musical theater workshops to kids in the inner city, and the workshops are absolutely free to the participants. Working with Handful Players last summer was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I got to know many talented kids that would have probably never had the opportunity to engage in a program like this outside of Handful Players. Some of the kids come in, and are already stars...they just don't know it! Some of them are there to learn life lessons...cooperation, team work, self confidence, responsibility. I really saw the kids grow in these areas over the summer. They all took such pride in their final performance which was performed before an audience of about 300 people! This was definitely an experience these kids will never forget. I know it affected them in a very positive way, and I was proud to be part of it. I have just started working as an Artist in Residence for Handful Players at an elementary school in San Francisco and will be working with them again this summer. This is more than a job for me. It is a heart project. Teaching for Handful Players really makes me feel I am giving something back to my community.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Handful Players as a volunteer, helping photograph the young actors and musicians that have passed through this wonderful program. But it wasn't until I saw the packed house at Yoshi's that I truly understood how valuable Handful Players is to the community. Not only does the program take young kids off the street and on to the stage, but its an event and a cause the entire community can rally around and applaud.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to the Handful Players annual performance at Yoshi's last year. It was a liberating experience to watch the collection of children perform on such a lovely stage. Their excitement and enthusiasm was infectious. I felt as if I watched self-esteem bloom in front of me.

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The youth participating in Handful Players have opportunities to learn "universal" understanding that comes through theater and music. There is not only a musical play that impacts audiences across San Francisco...but the opportunity for children and families to discover talents, creativity, skill building and problem solving! The family and volunteer participation is remarkable...adding mentors and lifelong connections in the community! Handful Players finds new ways to engage children and families, particularly from neighborhoods that need support, and move them along a path to educational and social success.

11

Donor

Rating: 5

In my experience, children have their lives changed in two ways: meeting extraordinary people and seeing that they can do something extraordinary themselves. Handful Players offers both. Kids who are in need of a great experience get to work with mentors and coaches who truly inspire. And they get to learn they CAN do amazing things through theatre, whether the hook for them is movement, voice, dance, acting, or just plain being on a stage with an audience clapping for them. It's an invaluable program.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

With our every contact with Handful, we have been deeply impressed by the creative and constructive purpose -- not to mention pure joy! -- that its productions give to kids whose lives are challenged by all sorts of "derailing" influences. Through theater, through community, Handful offers them a huge helping handful of love.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We have seen a several shows by the Handful Players and we're totally wowed by the talent of the kids and the committment and creativity of Judith Cohen and her crew. They have built fabulous place to give the children an opportunity to be a part of something that they would never have a chance to experience. Four thumbs up!

5

Donor

Rating: 5

Handful Players is an inspiration to all. It offers inner city kids the opportunity to spend after school time creatively and constructively, and to discover something about themselves they otherwise would never have the chance to discover. It's founder, Judith Cohen, tirelessly works to keep this program going, She has provided a safe place for the kids to practice and perform, the creative staff to make it fun, and the funding to keep it going. Hats off to Judith - she and Handful Players is a great asset to our city!