Lego Grant

Hartford Stage Receives $135,592 Grant from LEGO® Community Fund U.S. to Expand Connections Program and Early Literacy

By Theresa M. MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate

LegoHartford Stage has received a $135,592 grant from the LEGO® Community Fund U.S. to expand Connections, one of the theatre’s most successful and in-demand education programs, and to integrate early literacy work in Hartford Public Schools. Education programs at Hartford Stage currently serve approximately 20,000 students throughout the state, more than any other theatre in Connecticut.

Connections is a five-day, pre-reading residency that uses theatre techniques to strengthen comprehension skills and build excitement about a piece of literature. At the end of the program, each student receives a copy of the book.

“We are very grateful to the LEGO Community Fund U.S. for this important grant that will help us to continue to strengthen the curriculum and broaden the reach of our flagship literacy program,” said Michael Stotts, Managing Director of Hartford Stage. “With this major expansion of the program, Hartford Stage will have a greater impact on improving reading and comprehension levels of participating students.”

Building upon a successful and productive first-year partnership with the LEGO Community Fund U.S., which saw the development of three new arts-integrated curricula for the Connections program, Hartford Stage will now be able to send those curricula into more districts, schools, and classrooms. This second-year grant is expected to serve approximately 2,600 students and 115 teachers in Hartford and other school districts with a high level of student need.

The grant will also assist in expanding Hartford Stage’s early literacy programs for grades K-2. Last year, Hartford Stage worked with the Hartford Public Schools’ Office of Academics and Department of Early Literacy to develop a creative drama curriculum that was piloted in 15 schools and over 40 kindergarten classrooms. The residencies engaged teachers in professional learning on how to incorporate structured play into their teaching. This grant will allow Hartford Stage to work with the district in a more systemic way, enabling the roll-out of the program to include every kindergarten classroom in Hartford.

To learn more about education programs at Hartford Stage, contact Robert Reader, Education Programs Manager, at 860-520-7263 or