December 5, 2013

The Yip Harburg Foundation and SUNY Empire State College to Announce Unique Professional Resource Partnership for Musical Theater Studies

The Yip Harburg Foundation and SUNY Empire State College combined logo.

(NEW YORK CITY – Dec. 4, 2013) The Yip Harburg Foundation and SUNY Empire State College’s Metropolitan New York Center will officially announce a resource partnership for musical theater education at a special by-invitation-only event on Monday, Dec. 9, from 1-3 p.m. at the college’s Metropolitan Center, 325 Hudson Street, third floor.

The collaboration unites theater professionals with students and offers a new model for public-private partnerships in theater training that goes beyond the familiar conservatory models.

The college and foundation collaboration provides the Metropolitan Center’s students and the foundation’s participants, members and employees access to a unique opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree. Like all Empire State College students, they are able to design personalized degrees that reflect their interests in musical theater.

Foundation professionals will provide workshops for the Metropolitan Centers’ students. Workshops do not follow a single formulaic approach and can be geared to almost all matriculated students who are interested. For example, workshops may appeal to those studying business, management and economics at the college who want to learn acting. 

Workshops are led by the highest level of Broadway and entertainment professionals and include, "Scenes to Songs," with David Brunetti, and "Theater Dance," with Stephanie Fittro. 

The foundation also is offering personalized internships that can help place students in work-study opportunities with nonprofit theater companies around NYC.  Through the partnership with the foundation, Empire State College significantly expands its educational opportunities available through workshops and internships that become part of the students’ overall learning experience.

The college's three locations in New York City provide easy access to vast cultural resources, which enhances the curriculum with diverse experiences and activities, which can serve as a rich source of learning for college credit applicable to students' individualized programs of study.

In addition, the foundation has donated $4,000 for scholarships to students in the arts at the Metropolitan Center for 2013-14 and has pledged an additional $4,000 for the next academic year.  The foundation also will be publicizing opportunities for theater professionals to earn a bachelor’s at the college. Its goal is to link those who may be performers, directors, choreographers, designers, or practitioners from virtually any aspect of the musical theater business.

The college will provide applicants from the foundation with pre-enrollment advising, information sessions and other specific presentations, when appropriate, in addition to providing a modest scholarship and waiver of the college’s orientation fee.

The foundation community, including theater professionals, who may be adults returning to college after a significant hiatus, or studying part time and who work or have family commitments, to gain access to the college’s flexible approach to learning and the opportunity to earn college credit through work and life experience.

Notable alumni of Empire State College include Lisa Brescia '08, who appeared in "Wicked," "Aida," Jesus Christ Superstar," "Mamma Mia" and "Woman in White;" Alan Rachins ’74, best known for his role as Douglas Brackman in the long-running TV series “L.A. Law,” which earned him both Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, as well as for his portrayal of Dharma's hippie father, Larry, on the hit TV series, "Dharma & Greg;” and Lee Summers, who appeared in "Dreamgirls" and TV's "Blue Bloods.”

This partnership was developed in collaboration with Cynthia L. Ward, dean of the college’s Metropolitan Center, and Deena R. Harburg, executive vice president and artistic director of the foundation. 

Those interested may contact the Metropolitan Center at, or by calling 646 230-1208.

Online admissions information is available at

More information about affordable SUNY tuition and financial aid is available at

About the Yip Harburg Foundation

The foundation ( carries on the artistic legacy of E.Y. Harburg, the master lyricist who was "Broadway's social conscience." Harburg’s songs included "Brother, Can you Spare a Dime?", and he fought for social and economic justice for all people throughout his life.

The foundation was created to promote educational opportunity, social and economic justice and world peace. The Empire State College Yip Harburg Foundation partnership is being launched in the 75th Anniversary Year of "The Wizard of Oz," for which Harburg wrote his most famous lyrics, including "Over the Rainbow," and edited the final screenplay.

The Yip Harburg Foundation's other educational initiatives include unique arts in education programs of many kinds, including musical theater programs in underserved public schools to excite literacy and self-expression, and The Rainbow Troupe, a community ensemble ranging in age from eight to 40-plus, that is based in New York's East Village. The foundation's Brain, Heart and Nerve educational initiative is a sustainable education-through-the-arts project introducing children to the values of musical theater, emphasizing collaboration, positive self-esteem and character building. With the Empire State College partnership, the foundation's mission is expanded to college students, this time with professional-level courses and mentors and advisors from Broadway.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in the state of New York and online. Its 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available at


Reporters and editors please note: Press are invited to the special event announcing this partnership.

Media contact: Jonathan Slaff, for Yip Harburg Foundation

(212) 924-0496

Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)