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Introducing ‘Hamilton’ to a Younger Generation of New Yorkers

Patrick Brennan — Former Chief Operating Officer, The Rockefeller Foundation
President Obama greets the cast and crew of ‘Hamilton’ after seeing the play with his daughters. Photo credit: Pete Souza

Last week the world got a glimpse of what New Yorkers and the theater world have been buzzing about for the last year—the incredible cast and music of the Broadway hip-hop musical Hamilton. In fact, during the performance, Google saw spikes of search queries asking “Who is Alexander Hamilton?” (One answer: “The 10-dollar founding father without a father”)

“The 10-dollar founding father without a father.”

If Google search queries are any indication—and they usually are—of the musical’s ability to rouse historical curiosities—well, we are all the more excited that over the next year, 20,000 New York high school students will have the opportunity to see the show at a greatly reduced price of $10, thanks to an educational partnership formed by The Rockefeller Foundation, Gilder Lehrman, Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the NYC Department of Education. The $1.5 million grant from The Rockefeller Foundation will also help develop educational programming to bring the show’s creativity and artistic expression into social studies classrooms around the city.

So much of our work in philanthropy takes the long-view; for example, demonstrating how we can cut global food waste by half by 2030. But connecting youth to the arts is the kind of work that can have impact immediately: deepening their curiosity about the world and the people who made it so. And it’s just another chapter in The Rockefeller Foundation’s long history of supporting cultural institutions and innovation in New York City and beyond.

We can’t wait for the first group of students to see the show at the April 13 matinee. As for the rest of us, we’ll just have to keep entering the online lottery every morning and hope we get our shot.

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