project leader
Sarah H
711 N Grand Blvd
(Grand Center)
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the project

Grand Center Arts Academy is raising money to bring Sarah Hobson and her ethnodrama curriculum to their middle and high school students and teachers.

Ethnodrama is a trained analytical approach to community stories that illuminates and transforms the brokenness of current thinking about persistent social problems. In ethnodrama programs, youth identify and study an issue that is impacting their lives by collecting relevant family and community views. One student, Sahdiyah, delved into common stereotypes about St. Louis.

When middle & high school youth come through an ethnodrama program, they learn to apply sophisticated qualitative research to stories, a scaled down version of what doctoral students learn. Their artistic creations help them open cross-cultural conversations with audiences. In the process, they continue learning, both about their issue, and about how to facilitate productive problem-solving. For example, at a professional conference, Sahdiyah and her program cohort used films that brought the audience to tears as adults in attendance conversed across race and class.

Students become excited to learn ethnodrama because it is centered in their questions and in the arts. Through iterations of creative performance and reflection, they gain social and academic competence that allows them to entertain a broader array of entrepreneurial career options. Sahdiyah has already been effective in introducing ethnodrama as an agent for change to elected officials. She has concluded that she knows how to draw an audience out of their comfort zones because in her program cohort, she had been brought out of hers.

Starting in October 2017, Sarah Hobson will run a Grand Center Arts Academy ethnodrama after-school program with 10-15 students. Because ethnodrama aligns content and teaching methods with student learning styles, needs, questions, identities, and passions, she will use this program to teach teachers about the power of ethnodrama in the classroom. She will offer ethnodrama GCAA teacher workshops and coordinate research communities that bring teachers together across disciplines. 

About Sarah Hobson, Ph.D.

Over her 20-year career as a high school teacher, assistant professor, and entrepreneur, Sarah Hobson has designed, implemented, and researched ethnodrama instruction that engages students & their teachers/professors in real-world learning & problem-solving. In 2012, she gained her Ph.D. in Reading, Writing, & Literacy from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She honed her craft as a teacher educator at SUNY Cortland, where she helped revamp the Adolescence English Education program and taught a number of courses in language acquisition, multicultural literature, digital literacies, the teaching of reading, writing, & grammar, & supervision. She now lives in St. Louis and works with St. Louis youth and teachers.

the steps

Step 1: January 2016: A Pilot Program Took Place With GCAA Youth

Learn More:

Step 2: Jan. 2016: Pilot Program Outcomes

Learn More:

Step 3: May 2017: Set-Up of GCAA Ethnodrama Program and Professional Development with Administrators and Teachers

Step 4: July 2017: All Contracts & Program Documents and Research Processes Approved

Step 5: July-August 31, 2017: Crowdfunding Campaign Underway

Step 6: August 2017: Ethnodrama After-School Program Applications Go Out to Students and Parents at School Orientation

Step 7: September 2017: Application Review & Acceptance of Students

Step 8: October. 2017-May 2018: Program and Professional Development Implementation

why we're doing it

Sarah Hobson has founded Community Allies to help St. Louis unite as one village around all youth, especially our most vulnerable youth.

Most of the students in Community Allies programs face daily trauma of some kind.

In ethnodrama programs, youth gain research & communication tools that give them a much bigger chance at overcoming traumatic histories.

·      They gain a relationship with an adult who tracks with every step of their learning.

·      They acquire exposure to many other adults who become invested in mentoring and informing them about career pathways and their own personal life experiences.

When teachers witness the power of ethnodrama, they want to:

·      Engage youth in real-world research, writing, & problem-solving.

·      Expose their students to authentic assessments that include feedback from real audiences.

·      Equip students to work together to use words to stop any form of violence.

·      Equip students to use research to effect social change.

When teachers form research communities across disciplines, they:

·      Merge arts and standard academics to tackle tough social issues.

·      Document and share their teaching and help one another grow.

·      Identify how their biases affect their abilities to reach youth.

·      Discover how to help youth navigate tough moral dilemmas.

After the student film festival at GCAA, one teacher reported that throughout the next school year, “The teachers in conversation were more reflective when it came to topics such as segregation, stereotypes, and people’s different prejudices. And we actually paid more attention to how we viewed each other and how we approached our students, making sure that we didn’t approach them with a stereotype in mind.”


Ethical Approval/Policies/Consent Forms/Applications/Interviews to establish 10-15 committed youth for after-school year long program

60 hours x $20.00 = $1,200.00


Program Curricular Resources (digital resources, curriculum packets)



Program Snacks



Program Materials & Technology (Poster Board, pens, notebooks, file folders, external hard drives, video camera tripods, audio recorders, digital resource memberships)



Transportation for students to community partner organizations, conferences, & presentations



Youth Intern(s) from Previous Programming

$1,600.00 per youth


Program Hours

32 2-hour classes (64 hours, 3 hours per class for preparation & research)

=192 x $43.00 per hour = $8,100


Film with Report on Program Outcomes for GCAA & Funders

40 hours x 50 = $2,000


Professional Development (on site Literacy scholar coordinating and helping facilitate cross-disciplinary teacher research communities & administering ethnodrama p/d workshops & seminars that help teachers align instruction with youth learning needs & desires & assess & track youth learning outcomes and identity construction processes)

= $27,000


Subtotal = 44,300

ioby Platform Fee $35

ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $1,329

Total to raise = $45,664




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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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