University of Saint Francis Jesters program receives National Endowment for the Arts grant

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The University of Saint Francis is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a Grants for Arts Projects award of $20,000. This grant will support the Jesters program. 

“The University of Saint Francis is always grateful for NEA funding that helps the Jesters program meet the growing need to enhance quality of life for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities by co-creating art, opportunity and community,” Jesters Director Allison Ballard said.

The Jesters, a performing group of people ages 8 and older with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), has been sponsored by Saint Francis since 1978. There are 100 participants this year, the most in Jesters program history.

The NEA will award 958 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $27.1 million, announced as part of its first round of fiscal year 2024 grants. 

“The NEA is delighted to announce this grant to the University of Saint Francis, which is helping contribute to the strength and well-being of the arts sector and local community,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D. “We are pleased to be able to support this community and help create an environment where all people have the opportunity to live artful lives.” 

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

For more information on the Jesters program, contact Jesters Director Allison Ballard at

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, Saint Francis 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 1,900 students from a broad geographic region attend Saint Francis.