Case Study

The Theatre Lab


The Theatre Lab is DC’s largest and most comprehensive independent nonprofit school for the dramatic arts. For more than 30 years, this award-winning organization has transformed lives through theatre education, working to make both the artistic and real-life benefits of theatre training accessible to all. The Theatre Lab accomplishes this by offering acting and playwriting classes for all skill levels; extending tuition assistance and work-study opportunities to kids, youth, and adults; and bringing programming directly to partner organizations throughout DC and across the country.

Prior to engaging Elevate, The Theatre Lab had a part-time grant writer who was primarily focused on renewing grants from the organization’s existing portfolio of local arts funders. In 2014, The Theatre Lab first partnered with Elevate with the goals of attracting new institutional funders and increasing grant writing capacity.


Elevate significantly increased The Theatre Lab’s capacity for grant writing and prospect research to identify new grant opportunities. Leveraging its understanding of the broader funder landscape, including education and youth development, Elevate helped The Theatre Lab attract funders outside of the arts community.

After initially growing the organization’s base of support, over the years, the relationship has evolved to support The Theatre Lab’s funding goals for new partnerships and initiatives. These include The Theatre Lab’s leadership role in introducing the Arts Institute for Creative Advancement, a collective impact program of the DC Arts Education Alliance, which is piloting a theater apprenticeship program for youth (ages 18-25) to provide them with a living wage as they receive workforce training in the arts. This apprenticeship program targets individuals whose academic institutions and traditional support networks have repeatedly failed them.

As a result of Elevate’s thought partnership with The Theatre Lab, the organization deepened relationships with two of its existing funders. Then, in 2022, each of these funding partners supported The Alliance’s apprenticeship program with six-figure awards. Elevate was also able to help The Theatre Lab attract public grants to support the program.


In the first few years of the partnership, Elevate supported The Theatre Lab to significantly grow its grants program through new funding. The Theatre Lab consistently wins nearly 70% of grants submitted, and in 2023 alone, Elevate helped raise $800,000 in institutional funding (50% of The Theatre Lab’s budget) from new and renewal grants. In the future, Elevate and The Theatre Lab will continue to work together to build sustainable funding streams for the apprenticeship program.

About the Organization

The Theatre Lab is the largest independent theatre education organization in DC. It makes high-quality dramatic arts instruction accessible to youth and adults in Washington, DC at all experience levels and from all walks of life through adult education classes, a one-year certification program, and training in how to produce original dramatic art.

Service Details
Arts, Youth Development
Started With Elevate
February 2014
Washington, DC
Annual Budget
Approximately $1.1M

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With Elevate, you get a crew of dedicated, incredibly knowledgeable professionals who become a high-level strategy team for your organization. My conversations with our Elevate team have resulted not only in winning proposals, but also in re-envisioning some of the work that we do in the community to better fit with our own strategic objectives.

Deb Gottesman
Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director