USF Jesters will receive $25,000 grant from National Endowment for the Arts

January 10, 2023

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The Jesters program of the University of Saint Francis is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grants for Arts Projects award of $25,000.

The grant is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

Jesters is the only Fort Wayne-area program offering customized, interdisciplinary performing arts opportunities to people with mild to severe intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), ages 8 through senior citizens. The core program meets at USF each Saturday from September to March and culminates in an original interdisciplinary performance co-created by teaching artists and participants that will be presented March 2023.

“The Jesters program is always grateful for the support of the NEA,” Jesters Program Director Allison Ballard said. “These funds enable us to continue co-creating performance art with people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Inviting participants and teaching artists to work together to generate ideas, concepts, storylines, musical compositions, choreography, dialogue, and visual art is the key to the program’s success. It takes all of us working together to produce the magic that is the Jesters. Funding from the NEA and other sources makes that possible.”

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with the Jesters at the University of Saint Francis strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Sciences and Business. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the music technology program while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis, recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution, has 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.