Prevention Insights at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington will oversee the evidence-based research on a $250,000 grant Claude McNeal Productions has received from the Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant will support the work necessary for ACT Out!, a live social-issues theatre troupe, to become evidence-based in social/emotional learning.
The research will support the creation of curriculum around Act Out!’s core topics: bullying, diversity and inclusion, substance abuse, healthy relationships, social anxiety, and character development. It will also provide pilot testing of the revised program and a randomized, controlled trial in Indianapolis-area schools: Vanguard Collegiate, Lebanon Community High School and Indianapolis Public Schools.
Becoming an evidence-based program involves demonstrating meaningful outcomes from Act Out!, including improvements in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. The use of a rigorous scientific assessment of Act Out! will allow for an objective review of desired program outcomes. Dr. Jon Agley, Deputy Director of Research at Prevention Insights, adds, “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Claude McNeal Productions on this project. The work is not only of scientific interest, it is also meaningful to Hoosiers!”
Through this 19-month process, Act Out! expects to identify benefits of this approach to integrating social issues into theatre production and performance. The program, which specializes in social/emotional learning, will be the only one of its kind in Indiana to have undergone this intensive process. Using findings from the research, Act Out! will be prepared to seek national accreditation as an evidence-based program and expand its reach in Indiana, across the Midwest, and around the nation.
“The generosity and insight of Lilly Endowment has made it possible for us to grow the program and its reach beyond central Indiana,” said Claude McNeal, founder of Act Out!. “We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s confidence in our work and for seeing its importance in the lives of the students we serve.”
Claude McNeal Productions uses theatre to communicate issues and ideas that are difficult to address in any other way. Its mission is to inspire and transform lives through the energizing and transforming power of theatre and theatre-related educational programming. A featured part of Claude McNeal Productions is the ACT Out! traveling social-issues improvisational troupe. ACT Out! helps youth and adults learn to better face the difficult conflicts that are pervading and damaging societal issues in everyday life.
Prevention Insights is a public health organization grounded in translational research, evidence-based methods, and the active application of science to building healthier communities.