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Ruderman Family Foundation and Yale School of Drama Announce Partnership

The collaboration aims to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities in entertainment.

BOSTON: The Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading advocate for the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society, has announced they will be working with Yale School of Drama to support actors with disabilities by providing an annual scholarship to fund the training of a student at the Yale School of Drama. The inaugural recipient is Jessy Yates, an actor, performance artist, and comedian with Cerebral Palsy. Yates will be awarded a $50,000 tuition scholarship and a living stipend.

Jessy Yates.

“For years, I did not think there was a place for people with visibly disabled bodies as performers and creators, and I discounted myself from the profession,” Yates said in a statement. “The training necessary for sustained careers in the arts is often not accessible to the disabled community. I am deeply thankful for the Ruderman Family Foundation’s support of my own training as an artist as well as for their unwavering dedication to disability representation throughout media.”

In addition to this funding, the Ruderman Family Foundation and Yale School of Drama will collaborate on gatherings across the U.S. to progress disability inclusion in entertainment. The first convening took place in New York City earlier this month and hosted representatives of Yale School of Drama, Brown University, the City College of New York, and other theatre schools. The partnership will host its next event in Los Angeles this May.

“We are enormously grateful to the Ruderman Family Foundation for their generous gift to support actor training at Yale School of Drama,”  said James Bundy, dean of the School and artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre, in a statement. “This investment is only the latest example of the Foundation’s tireless dedication to increasing representation of artists with disabilities on stage and on screen, and we are delighted to partner with them to raise the national standards of inclusive practice in the field.”

Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said in a statement, “We look forward to working with our new colleagues at Yale to bring greater national attention to the topics of accessibility and inclusion in film, television, and theatre.”

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