Broadway for Better World extends youth outreach with scholarships

Broadway for a Better World will begin offering student scholarships to CFCC in 2022. Left to right: Donors Jack and Pam Fuller, Broadway for a Better World’s Tracy Wilkes, arts council director Rhonda Bellamy, CFCC president Jim Morton, and VP of advancement of the arts Shane Fernando at the announcement of the program on Monday, May 28. (Port City Daily/Courtesy of CFCC)

WILMINGTON, NC — Since Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) launched Broadway for a Better World in 2017, it has granted 1,388 tickets to underserved youth through 15 nonprofit community organizations and local schools. Last week, another sector of the program, the Tracy Wilkes Broadway for a Better World Student Scholarship, was announced.

“Scholarships will initially be for $500 per award, and the award amount will increase as gifts continue to add to the endowment,” according to CFCC’s vice president of advancement and the arts, Shane Fernando.

Fernando said scholarships will be given out twice annually, beginning in 2022. The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County will administer the application process, the same way the council ensures Broadway for a Better World tickets are granted annually to community organizations, such as Brigade Girls & Boys Club, Cape Fear Literacy Council, disAbility Resource Center, Elderhaus PACE, Good Shepherd Center, Theatre for All, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM), YWCA Lower Cape Fear, and other organizations.


Organizations apply annually for tickets to Wilson Center’s Cape Fear Stage shows — “which include our PNC Broadway Series; our Star Series, featuring national music and comedy tours; and our nCino MOVE! Dance Series,” Fernando explained. He said the program averages around a dozen tickets for each organization, which over four years has equaled $115,487.59, funded by multiple private donors.

DREAMS of Wilmington is one of the organizations the series has worked with to provide disadvantaged youth an opportunity to see theater and dance performances they otherwise may not be able to afford. Founded by Tracy Wilkes in the mid-’90s, DREAMS teaches arts programming in dance, music, visual arts, ceramics, writing, and other genres, supported by local artists who work directly with kids. The nonprofit came at a time when Wilkes said schools were really cutting arts programs.

“The skill set that you learn through involvement in the creative process is the same skill set you need to succeed at anything in life,” Wilkes told encore magazine upon her retirement seven years ago. “If you’re in a show, you have to show up on time, work with a group, and resolve conflicts in a positive way. All these things are really transferable.”

Wilkes stepped down from DREAMS in 2014. Thereafter, she worked as a community engagement specialist at the Wilson Center and helped initiate the founding of Broadway for a Better World.

“Cape Fear Community College is excited to further the wonderful work of Tracy Wilkes and the Broadway for a Better World initiative,” Jim Morton, CFCC president, said in a press release.

Jack Fuller, retired CEO of GE Hitachi Nuclear and member of the CFCC Foundation Board, helped fund the scholarship program.

“We are so thankful to the Fuller family for their tremendous support of Cape Fear Community College and the arts in our region,” Morton continued in the release. “Naming the scholarship for Tracy Wilkes is a wonderful way to honor her hard work and her passion for increasing access to the arts in our community.”

Fernando said applications to the Tracy Wilkes Broadway for a Better World Student Scholarship will open in spring 2022 for fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.


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