Washington Improv Theater is committed to making an impact throughout DC and sharing improv different communities, including those who might not have access to the arts.
At WIT, we believe that improv is an incredible tool to facilitate self-discovery, inter-personal connection, and joy. To that end, we are committed to increasing access to this art form including communities who may not have had access before.
WIT’s community partnerships are overseen by our education department. Because WIT compensates its instructors, some partnerships are paid while others are done at no cost to the partner.
How to partner with WIT
If you work with a community-based organization that serves the people of the District and want to explore a partnership, email email@example.com. In your message, please include your organization’s background, an idea of the programming you’d like, and your proposed budget. WIT has a limited budget for community work, so we are open to conversations on cost-sharing arrangements.
WIT’s classes program targets adult learners so we have more capacity to support participants aged 18 and up. If you would like to bring an improv workshop to your workplace, our organizational training program WIT@Work might be the right fit. We have nonprofit rates.
Marie Reed Elementary
In WIT’s longest-running community project, we provide afterschool arts programming serving grades 1-5. Teachers and faculty alike at both locations report that as the program has progressed, students have shown a marked improvement in their communication, public speaking and conflict resolution skills. The program at Marie Reed boasts an 85% participation rate, which, according to faculty is about 20% higher than typical engagement in other programs.
In FY22, WIT increased its engagement with Marie Reed – going from two days a week of afterschool programs to four days a week at no cost to the school.
Instructors: Jack Novak, Samantha Watson
• Marie Reed after-school program coordinator Walter Castillo: “Diego was very shy when he first started engaging in the program. The improv challenged him to do a lot of things out of his comfort zone. Over the course of the program Diego changed a lot. He’s overcome his fears and has become a very comfortable public speaker. I’ve seen that happen over and over for several students.”
Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP)
ASAP helps veterans return to civilian life through engagement with the arts. WIT provides special introductory classes as well as free workshops for their community to give veterans a risk-free sampling of improv.
Instructors: Pete Bergen, Clyde Thompson, Tara Demmy, Jeff Bollen
• ASAP Executive Director Brian Jenkins: “Partnering with WIT to offer improv classes to our community of veterans and military families has been a real gift. Improv requires being fully present in the moment, and it gives the performer a sense of agency that transfers into the uncertainties of daily life. Not only is improv a fun – and funny – art form; it’s an impactful one, too.”
Calvary Women's Services
Calvary Women’s Services works with women to overcome homelessness and provide services and encouragement towards achieving independence. WIT provides two classes per week to residents in 8-9 week sessions. Calvary and WIT deepened our engagement in FY22 by increasing the number of sessions per year from four to 14.
Read our interview with instructor Krystal Ramseur.
Instructors: Krystal Ramseur, Samantha Watson
• Calvary’s Education Coordinator Elaine Johnson says: “I want to be the megaphone for delight in social services. I truly believe that we resign anyone at the poverty line to a life devoid of delight, saying that once you fix all your problems only then you can be delighted. But until then, you’re grinding away at these forms and these lines and these deadlines … Delight is what gets our women to do the hard work.”
• Video featuring Elaine Johnson and instructor Samantha Watson.
• View the story about the program’s impact as told by Samantha Watson.
• News item about the program’s impact.
Capital Hill Village
Capitol Hill Village is a member-driven, volunteer-based local organization that engages neighbors to build a vibrant, inclusive and age-friendly community that empowers everyone to thrive and live meaningful, purposeful lives. WIT provides virtual improv classes to its community.
Instructor: Samantha Watson
• Participant Shirley Rosenfeld: “Improv just blows your mind. It opens up your mind. It challenges. It’s pure fun. It’s a different way of looking at things. I’ve seen the creativity in all my neighbors, people I didn’t know and people I knew. The Zoom sessions expanded my circle of knowing my neighbors in a way I never would have been able to during the pandemic.”
• Video: How Improv Helped Seniors at Capital Hill Village Find Community
• Video: Capitol Hill Village Participants: Why Seniors Should Do Improv
Capital Village Public Charter School
Capital Village PCS is a charter school in Northeast DC. Unlike many of WIT’s programs which are after school, Capital Village integrated improv into their curriculum and aligned it with their “Village Values.” While we formed this relationship pre-pandemic, WIT began programming during quarantine.
Instructor: Jack Novak, Samantha Watson, Sam Bonar
• Teacher Daralyne Davis: “If you want to see growth, improv is one of the best places to see it. Had we recorded the very first lesson and the very last lesson, it would have been night and day. And some of these students who were extremely shy, don’t even want to turn that camera on, only want to communicate in the chat … So I will tell if that fellow educator if you would like to get students out of their comfort zones, safely, improv would be the way to do it.”
• Video featuring principal Monica Greene and teacher Daralyne Davis (second segment).
Project Create programs afterschool arts programs that serve students ages five to 24 with classes in different art mediums. WIT provides improv classes once a week to ages 6-10 during the school year. WIT provides daily improv classes for two weeks during Project Create’s arts summer camp. WIT has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to support this work.
Instructor: Jack Novak
• Project Create parent: “Improv helped my son gain confidence in public speaking. He also learned to be more innovative.”
• Project Create Executive Director Christie Walser: “The benefits of improvisational theater and performing arts for young people are powerful and transformational. With opportunities to learn creative new ways to communicate and express themselves, our students thrive. All they need is a stage!”
Sitar Arts Center
Located in Ward 1, Sitar Arts Center provides afterschool arts program aimed at elementary-aged students. WIT provides one, 1-hour class per week per 10-week session to the age group defined by Sitar Arts Center.
Instructors: Samantha Watson, Jack Novak
• A. Lorraine Robinson, Senior Director of Artistic Programs & Strategic Partnerships: “Improv gives students the opportunity to learn on their feet. You see their confidence grow along the way. I believe there is no better way to engage with these communication skills.”
• How improv helps with socio-emotional learning: View the story told by Samantha Watson.