Alternative Spring Break Week in Selma, Alabama

The Freedom Foundation

THE FREEDOM FOUNDATION

The Freedom Foundation began in Colorado when founder, Mark Duke, left his $1.6 million dollar job in corporate America in 2005 to do something good for the community. With the help of a group of dedicated individuals and committed volunteers, the organization began to help develop, educate, train, encourage and assist the disadvantaged community so that they could have a chance at a better life. The organization is entirely volunteer-based. According to Mark Duke, volunteers come from all walks of life to give their time to the kids at weekly rehearsals; others support through fundraising events and offering their special professional talents to gain more attention in the community.

The Freedom Foundation saw a need to branch out to Selma, Alabama after taking a field trip and seeing first-hand the racism that still exists in a place that is a significant part of the Civil Rights movement. The organization saw potential in the community's youth and started the Random Acts of Theater Company (RATCo, for short). RATCo Selma is run by a core group of volunteers, many with professional theatre training and experience. The youth in the program come mainly from disadvantaged situations, but the program is open to all. According to Shawn Samuelson, the company performs in Selma several times per year and the youth manage all of the major elements of each performance including set design, music and sound, costumes, choreography, marketing/promotion, administration, and all aspects of production.

In recent years, RATCo Selma has also hit the road, performing at fund raising events in Colorado – and the upcoming seasons also holds exciting trips to New York City and Washington D.C., according to Gwen Brown. In fact, RatCo Selma has been such a success that RATCo programs have been established in Colorado, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. The goal is to open up many more RATCo programs in cities across the U.S. to give under-served youth the opportunity to express themselves through the arts in a safe, positive environment.