Michael Miro, right, Executive Director, Mudlark Theatre with Andrew Biliter, Mudlark's Artistic Director.

multi-faceted investment in local group

“Going through the Foundation’s root2fruit capacity-building program changed everything for Mudlark,” says Michael Miro, Executive Director of Mudlark Theatre.

Miro's initial connection to the Foundation was through the Leadership Evanston program, and since then Mudlark's partnership with the Foundation has increased the impact of the theatre company in the Evanston community.

initial investment in 2012

When Mudlark received its initial $10,000 root2fruit grant in 2012 it also became part of a learning community with other grantee organizations. Together with other root2fruit grantees they developed knowledge and skills about challenges such as building a high performance board, raising money, and managing their business. The organization was a part of the root2fruit program from 2012 through 2014

asset in the community

Mudlark Theater isn’t your typical children’s theater program. Miro and his colleague, Artistic Director Andrew Biliter, have a vision of taking children seriously as artists. Together, they create the possibility for great theater, erasing the boundary between youth and professional theater. With children ages eight and up, they’ve produced shows including Romeo and Juliet, The Cherry Orchard, and Antigone, along with the annual Mudpie show which develops short plays out of Evanston children’s own writing.

growth and impact

At the end of their three-year involvement in root2fruit, Mudlark reported amazing growth: They tripled their annual revenue from around $80000 to $240,000. And this growth meant they were able to increase the number of kids they work with from 150 a year to over 1500. ECF’s investment in Mudlark’s capacity helped build the organization from within, which exponentially increased their impact on children and the community.

When Mudlark “graduated” from root2fruit, Miro thanked ECF for its investment: “The money, the workshops, the accountability…you took a chance on us. And we blossomed because of it. ..You helped us transform ourselves from a tiny little non-profit with a loyal following to a legitimate institution with deep roots in the community.”