Returning citizens, women in recovery, unhoused children and families, wounded veterans, teens working toward a GED, seniors in assisted living: everyone has a story to tell, a voice that needs to be heard, a life that is ready for transformation. At TTL they get to tell those stories, transforming their personal narratives into film or theater. And the self-esteem that comes from creating original works of dramatic art is life-changing. The pioneering, tuition-free, Life Stories (and Institute) program teaches hundreds of children, youth, and adults to create original dramatic work from their personal experiences. Hundreds more are able to participate in classes and summer camps in acting, directing, playwriting, and musical theater. Instruction comes from local actors, directors, and playwrights, and each year more than $150,000 in additional scholarships is granted to a third of those enrolled. Let the voices be heard.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 2

Where They Operate: DC-Citywide

Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-49); Seniors (50+)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Asian American; Caucasian; Latino/Hispanic; Native American

Population(s) Served: All

Schools They Work In: Maury Elementary, Tyler Elementary

  • Scholarship dollars allotted annually to allow children to attend summer camp :   >$80,000
  • Youth and adults in underserved communities that have been reached through our Life Stories program since 2000:   > 1000

Awards & Recognition

CFP One of the Best Small Charities 2010-11, 2014-15
Caron Community Leadership Award, 2012
Mayor's Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts, 2010
Coming Up Taller Award National Semifinalist (President's Commission on the Arts and Humanities), 2007
NBC 4: 12 Days of Giving Honoree, 2005
Linowes Leadership Award, 2003


Budget (FY2023)

  • $3 million or higher
  • The current budget for The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts is: $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

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