RISE UP! Hamilton STEAM Curriculum Provides Life-Changing Opportunity for Underserved Dallas Youth

At the T.D. Jakes Foundation, we strive to create a world where everyone can live up to their full potential by connecting people in underserved communities to life-changing opportunities. We’ve always believed that the arts provide a conduit to STEM careers. And what could be a better way to merge STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with the arts than through the hit Broadway musical Hamilton — a groundbreaking show for racial diversity in musical theatre?

STEM careers are among the fastest growing—and highest paid—jobs on the market today. Since 1990, STEM employment has grown 79%, and the annual wage of STEM occupations is more than double that of non-STEM occupations. Unfortunately, there is a major racial gap in STEM careers, especially among Black and Hispanic populations. At the Foundation, we aim to address this disparity by giving students a chance to gain an interest in STEM and STEAM fields, with the goal of eventually stepping into a related career.

This fall, the Foundation partnered with Dallas Summer Musicals, Dallas Independent School District, iD Tech, Frito-Lay, the Moody Foundation and the Meadows Foundation to provide a Hamilton-themed STEAM curriculum aimed at teaching underserved students how to execute an overall marketing strategy for Hamilton, utilizing Adobe software programs including Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

Students in the program took four Photoshop-centric classes and four Premiere Pro-centric classes, which enabled them to design an original Hamilton poster and cut together 30-second video trailer for the show. The iD Tech staff provided detailed lessons on the Adobe software programs at the beginning of each session, and Dallas Summer Musicals teaching artists provided a connection to theater and to Hamilton, with a focus on cultural awareness and racial equity.

Students explored themes such as marketing design, typography, color theory and layout during the Photoshop classes while, in the Premier Pro sessions, students learned about the art and science of filmmaking, covering topics such as editing, framing, storyboarding, audio and music copyright, post-production, color grading and more.

In total, 3,000 students, 36 teaching artists and 18 Dallas Independent School District teachers across 60 classrooms participated in the program. By the end of the rigorous curriculum, students had completed final projects in print and video, which showcased their newfound cross-disciplinary proficiencies and solidified their knowledge of Hamilton lore.

It was incredible to watch these students thrive doing things they had never done before and, more than that, we saw them start to dream of doing things they had never thought possible.

At the close of the multi-week curriculum, teachers, students, and their families attended a full performance of Hamilton at Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas. T.D. Jakes met with students at the event and delivered remarks prior to the spectacular performance. It was an inspiring day. Not just because of the event itself, but because of what it represented: life-changing opportunities.

This is why we do what we do—and we’re just getting started!