Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Climb, Inc.

  • Inver Grove Heights, MN

Mission Statement

CLIMB's mission is to create and perform plays, classes and other works that inspire and propel people, especially young people, toward actions that benefit themselves, each other and the community.

Main Programs

  1. CLIMB Theatre Plays and Classes
Service Areas



While CLIMB travels the country, our primary service area is MN,WI, IA, ND, SD, and IL. In the '12-'13 school year, CLIMB reached 162,872 people, 126,886 of whom are Minnesotans. CLIMB performed in 20% of Minnesota’s 860 rural, suburban and urban towns/cities. 151,852 of the persons we reached are preschool through high school students. 9,912 are teachers and 627 are elders in day care centers throughout MN. **This was the first time in CLIMB’s 39 years of existence that we developed programming for and served elders with disabilities.

ruling year


Executive and Artistic Director


Ms. Peg M Wetli



Theatre,youth,K-12,environment,bullying,diversity,respect,substance abuse prevention, methamphetamine

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Also Known As

CLIMB Theatre



Physical Address

6415 Carmen Ave

Inver Grove Heights, 54016


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Theater (A65)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Each of our plays and classes is written, produced and performed in order to achieve specific goals such as keeping teenagers from trying meth or heroin, or reducing the bullying that happens in elementary and middle schools, or having high school and college students become more accepting of people who are different from them. While we do not have independent research to solidly show that we are achieving our goals, surveys we conduct with students and evaluations we receive from educators and parents strongly indicate that we are having our intended impact.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

CLIMB Theatre Plays and Classes

Ongoing Programs/Activities

PLAYS Note: Parenthesis indicates the grade levels the play reaches
• A Deeper Look - Acceptance of Differences (college and 9-12)
• **Twisted Ride to Nowhere - Methamphetamine and Heroin Use Prevention (7-12)
• **One Kind Thing - Bullying Prevention (6-8th)
• Emma and the Allianz Cash Cow- Money Management (1-4)
• Bugs - Bullying Prevention (K-2)
• The Bystander - Bullying Prevention (3-5)
• The Great Tooth Exchange - Social Skills (K-2)
• Valentine's Day - Social Skills (3-5)
• Trash!- Waste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling (3-5)
• **The Gift Cat- Waste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling (K-2)

Working in teams of two, 10 members of CLIMB’s Teaching Company conduct classes in individual classrooms. Classes deliver clear educational lessons and elicit involvement through theatre games and role-play. Topics include ones addressed in our plays and homework and test taking skills, responsibility, cyber bullying, resiliency, gateway drugs, and global climate change.

**New for '13-'14 is a class called "Feeling History: African Americans' Reach for Equality". We describe it this way:

In this 55 minute theatrical history experience, students embark on a guided journey from slavery to today. Actor-Educators use monologues, scenes, slides, music, sound and pointed interaction to help students intellectually and emotionally understand individual and institutional racism in a way that may well move them closer to each other and someday, perhaps, even to actions that will help end racism.

• Bullying Prevention (K-2), (3-6)
• Empathy (K-2), (3-6)
• **Acceptance of Difference (K-2) (3-6)
NOTE: CLIMB invented Interplays for schools that needed us but couldn't afford our plays or classes. Interplays are collections of scenes interspersed with narratives that highlight each scene's intent.


Children's Theater Programs

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)


Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    CLIMB's goal is to reach an ever-growing number of children and youth, especially those who are underserved, with programming that is both educationally and artistically excellent.

    Educational Excellence: CLIMB's playwrights set educational objectives for each of our plays. These objectives work together to help us reach a single goal like:
    • Inspiring bystanders who witness bullying to say that they will take action to stop it
    • Having teenagers say that they will be more accepting of people who are different from themselves
    • Inspiring children to be responsible environmental stewards by practicing waste reduction, reuse and recycling and other conservation methods
    • Teaching financial literacy to 1st-4th graders.

    Surveys we conduct with students indicate that we are achieving our goals.

    Artistic Excellence: CLIMB is the 2009 winner of the American Alliance for Theater in Education prestigious Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award. AATE is a national association existing “to promote standards of excellence in theatre and theatre education." Only one other Minnesota theatre has ever received the Sara Spencer Award.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    CLIMB writes, produces, and performs plays and classes that achieve educational objectives and artistic excellence. Most of these plays and classes are created topics in partnership with a wide variety of organizations. CLIMB's creative teams work with each partner to understand the company's needs and objectives and the logistics involved. Then, we apply our expertise as writers, directors, and actors to create and present programs that meet stated objectives. We often find that once a product is produced for a particular partner it has broad appeal and can be placed in our standard repertory. A list of recent partners follows that.

    Minnesota's Secretary of State
    “Return to Honor" was created at the request of The Veterans' Reintegration Network convened by Mark Ritchie, MN's Secretary of State. Network participants were charged with creating programs to assist military personnel in reintegrating into their families, workplaces and communities and believed that CLIMB would be essential to achieving their objectives.

    Anoka Hennepin District 11 (Minnesota's second largest district with over 30,000 students)
    National media from Rolling Stone to CNN have featured stories on Anoka Hennepin District 11, MN's largest school district. The District became newsworthy as a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, a variety of lawsuits and a number of student suicides occurred forcing the District to address how teachers handle bullying and harassment aimed at GLBT students. Anoka's Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment Task Force hired CLIMB to work in partnership with it to create three inspiring teacher trainings showing educators how to address GLBT bullying.

    District administrators sitting on the Anti-Bullying Anti-Harassment Task Force said that this performance was the most highly rated teacher training the district had ever done.
    They based this opinion in part on the results a four-question survey completed by the secondary educators in the audience.

    Owatonna Public Schools
    We don't like to think this kind of thing happens here in the land of Minnesota nice, but it does; teachers at Owatonna High School told students to spray deodorant at Somali Muslim students as they entered classrooms. This type of teacher-to-student and student-to-student behavior triggered investigations into the Owatonna Public Schools (OPS) by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. Knowing of CLIMB's artistic quality and our extensive training experience, Owatonna's district office contracted with CLIMB to write, produce, and present a performance training that would ameliorate the prejudice practiced by its teachers.

    As a result of this play, 57% of adults surveyed said they would be more accepting of people who are different from them. Over a year after presenting this training, Mark Krug, Director of Special Services, says his teachers are still talking about our presentation.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    CLIMB hires a diverse staff so that we reflect the young people we serve. 60% of our Actors, 36% of our Actor-Educators and 25% of our eight person administrative staff, are persons of color. We are ethnically diverse and we also represent a wide range of socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, and age (21-67 yrs). CLIMB is EEO/AA certified.

    All of CLIMB's plays, classes and interplays address specific needs. Most often we don't decide what is needed. Educators and other community groups come to CLIMB asking us to address a particular need they have. Then, CLIMB's writers do extensive research and set the educational objectives that the new product must communicate in order to meet the need. The objectives we set for each play, class, or interplay work together to help us to meet a single need or outcome.

    CLIMB's budget is just over 1.1 million. We serve 160,000 students in 5 states in over 400 schools. We do this with an administrative staff of five full-time, and three full-time seasonal individuals, all but two of whom are also practicing artists. Staff members are multi-capable. The woman who heads our Performing Company, is a playwright, director and actor on stage and in film. Our Executive and Artistic Director is also our principal playwright and performs as needed. All of our staff members contribute to grant writing. We don't have a development department or a single grant writer.This kind of hard work demands, not only talent, but commitment. We have lots of that! During the recession, our Executive Staff took pay cuts ranging from 12-39%. We are enormously happy in our work and our building resonates with energy and excitement.

    Our reputation and our mission attract actors from throughout the country who join us because they know we will grow them in their craft and in their employability. These are dynamic young people with unusual promise and a desire to make a difference.

    CLIMB has been achieving it's mission for 38 years under the leadership of a single woman. The rest of our executive administrative staff has an average tenure of 5.5 years. This creates efficiency, wisdom, and insight. This works for us because we also have a curiosity and energy that has us constantly investigating the world and reassessing our work.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Audience Evaluation: 99% of our audiences evaluate us using formats that differ from one another since the audiences themselves, the educational objectives set for each play and the circumstance of where and how the plays are performed vary. For example, 350 educators attending “A Deeper Look" wrote answers to three questions before leaving the auditorium. For "Emma and the Cash Cow," CLIMB and our host schools will conduct pre, post and 3 month follow-up surveys asking 4th graders 4 questions. Middle school students who saw “Lockdown" were encouraged to go on line to respond to a posted questionnaire. To determine if we met our Arts Learning goals for preschoolers, our AEs videoed 50% of our first and last classes looking for growth in students' abilities to characterize and in their learning.
    In evaluating “Return to Honor" we asked audience members how many plays they'd seen in the past two yrs. We asked them to rate our acting, script and message on a scale of 1-5. Because our audiences were not likely to be theatergoers, we asked if, as a result of “Return to Honor" they were more likely to see plays by other theatres. CAM was heavily evaluated by community leaders, and by persons who attended the Intergenerational Dialogues. We didn't ask people attending fairs and festivals to complete evaluations of our performances since the setting was not conducive to it.
    Our play, “Shattered", was independently researched by a masters degree student attending the U of M. Wilder Research, a much respected research firm, conducted a year long study of students from urban, suburban and rural schools that did and did not participate in our bullying prevention programming.
    Educators in every school audience assess theatrical and educational elements of our plays and classes. Michael Brown and Julie Janus read each evaluation. On the rare occasions when an average or below average school evaluation is received from a teacher, they call to discuss the matter. They also complete 'Evaluation Summary Sheets' that they present to Peg Wetli, Buffy and to our Outreach Team. Audience evaluation results have led us to revise scripts, to retire old plays and create new plays, to redesign sets, and to provide additional A and AE training.
    Director site evaluations: Buffy and Julie observe 15% of our work assessing our plays and classes and completing observation feedback forms that assess actors' and AEs' skills on stage and in the classroom. Observation forms are given to artistic staff and are discussed in meetings scheduled for that purpose.

    Follow-up calls placed by staff to a random sampling of schools several months after our programming provides a subjective opinion as to the longer lasting effects of our work.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Because our work has such a strong impact on our audiences, we need to be performing and teaching much more extensively. We should be serving at least 500,000 people each and every year. The independent research we had done attesting to the effectiveness of several of our programs is now too old to be impressive. We need more research done on more of our programs.
Service Areas



While CLIMB travels the country, our primary service area is MN,WI, IA, ND, SD, and IL. In the '12-'13 school year, CLIMB reached 162,872 people, 126,886 of whom are Minnesotans. CLIMB performed in 20% of Minnesota’s 860 rural, suburban and urban towns/cities. 151,852 of the persons we reached are preschool through high school students. 9,912 are teachers and 627 are elders in day care centers throughout MN. **This was the first time in CLIMB’s 39 years of existence that we developed programming for and served elders with disabilities.

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Fiscal year: Sep 01-Aug 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Climb, Inc.



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Executive and Artistic Director

Ms. Peg M Wetli


Peg Wetli, CLIMB Theatre's Executive/Artistic Director, founded CLIMB in 1975 as a theatre company for persons with disabilities. CLIMB was one of the first theatres in the country to provide programming to this audience. Peg's training and experience in theatre and education, and her work with people with disabilities prompted her to want to serve this audience with theatrical experiences that her audiences could understand, relate to, and apply to their lives. But, if she wanted to do this, she couldn't approach theatre in the conventional way.

Conventionally, artistic directors choose plays, perform them in their theatres, and draw an audience that wants to see those particular plays. So, Peg reversed the conventional process. She started with the specific needs and interests of each of her unique audiences and then wrote and produced plays and theatre-based classes that specifically suited each group she would travel to. "Theatre In Reverse" yielded theatre that was interactive, educational, imaginative and fun. It was a process and a product that was soon in demand, not just for children with disabilities, but for all children. Last year CLIMB served 479,000 K-12th grade students and their teachers. Peg has aptly lead CLIMB to its growth and has authored more than 30 plays for children and adults.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive and Artistic Director

"I have spent all of my adult life doing CLIMB's work. All I can say is, " What a great way to spend a life!""



Mr. James V Gambone

Points of View


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?