RISE! is Near West Theatre’s free after-school theater arts enrichment program.


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Participants hone their acting & improvisation, writing, and creative skillsets while working on a final performance project that will challenge them to connect with their peers and the Shoreway community. The program meets on Mondays - Thursdays from 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM, with a snack provided when participants arrive. This program is open to ages 9 – 15, and no previous acting experience is necessary.

September 26 – December 15, 2022 and January 9 – March 30, 2023

Public Performance: TBA

In addition to a focus on creative skillsets, RISE! helps students to grow and develop socially and emotionally. Teaching artists focus on supporting youth through this journey and the outcomes from recent sessions demonstrate this impact.

  • 89% of RISE! participants reported gains in self-confidence
  • 81% reported of RISE! Participants demonstrated gains in confidence in meeting new people
  • 95% reported feeling supported in learning new things
  • 73% reported an increase in being able to control their reactions to their feelings
  • 86% reported feeling more empowered to stand up for what they believe in

This program serves all participants, but recent sessions have helped us to reach participants that are traditionally underserved by the arts.

  • 68% of participants are from low-income households
  • 72% are non-white
  • 37% are multiracial
  • 91% are City of Cleveland residents (64% share NWT's zip code: 44102)
  • 56% have reported special conditions, including: learning disability, physical or mental disability, medical conditions, or trauma
  • 37% are multiracial
  • 91% are City of Cleveland residents (64% share NWT’s zip code 44102)
  • 56% of participants have reported special conditions including: learning disability, physical or mental disability, medical conditions, and other trauma.



Amani Green (she/her)

Amani is the lead teaching artist for the Rise! Program. She grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and spent seven years in California before moving to Cleveland in 2016. She has been involved in several casts and production teams of shows at Near West Theatre since 2017. Part of why she loves Near West Theatre is its commitment to its youth participants. She previously worked in higher education prior to her new role as Program Manager at Near West Theatre. She is very excited to work with the students in this program!



Carlos Cruz (he/they)

Carlos is a Cleveland-born, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rican-raised actor and teaching artist who has collaborated to develop and perform educational theatre works all over NEO and Puerto Rico. They have performed with Near West Theatre, The Beck Center, Karamu House, Cleveland Playhouse, and many other organizations. Carlos has taught theatre making to folks ages 5 and up in an array of disciplines including improv, writing, monologues, scene work, movement, and voice however, their focus is musical theatre techniques. Carlos has a deep belief that the tools for making theatre should be accessible to everyone. It has been a joy spreading their love for the creative process by working with both like and differing-minded artists. Carlos learns just as much from their students as they hope their students learn from them. 


Connor Karboski (he/him)

As a Cleveland local and 2021 Cleveland State University theatre graduate, Connor is so excited to continue making theatre in this amazing city. He has been a member of the Near West Community since 2017 and is feeling so blessed to have this opportunity to share his passion for theatre as a teaching artist with the RISE! program. When not at the theatre, Connor can be found serving the community as a barista, writing, reading, star gazing, or hanging out with his two cats.

Interested in our after-school program?

Registration below and get enrolled TODAY!  For more information on our programming, contact our Program Manager, Amani Green at 

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