The Jellybean Conspiracy

To conspire is "to breathe together" or "to breathe as one."
The Jellybean Secret is this: everyone's life is important.

The Jellybean Conspiracy is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that sponsors theatre shows designed to include the talents of students with and without disabilities. We provide grants and recognition to schools. The purpose of these shows is to give all participating children opportunities to act, dance and sing, and at the same time, to encourage them to be considerate and kind to one another. Formed in 2001, the Jellybean Conspiracy has provided performance opportunities for 3,500 students nationwide and has reached audiences of over 100,000.

Our MISSION is to:
Collaboratively foster speech and theatre festivals based on the Jellybean themes so we may continue to meet the needs of all students in our country through:
  • Modeling ideal festivals in Mexico, MO in collaboration with Mexico Public School District
  • Communicating and presenting to school districts and school leaders
  • Fostering new festivals with monetary and consulting support
The VISION for the Continuing work of Jellybean Conspiracy Festivals:
We envision our nation showcasing the voices and talents of students that are differently-abled through the theater and arts in every region of our nation and fostering relationships among young people that last a lifetime.
Jellybean Conspiracy founder Harold Martin
Dr. Howard Martin,
writer and founder of
The Jellybean Conspiracy

What is the Jellybean Conspiracy?

Look at a jar of jellybeans. You have to admit it’s a cheerful sight. Feast your eyes on those sweet little dumplings of sugar, pressing their pudgy faces against the glass, proudly offering themselves in a riot of colors: strawberry red, mandarin orange, lemon yellow, lime green, grape purple, licorice black and bubble-gum pink. Think about the universe in which they live. It’s a universe where every bean has its own special place and where each one at some time hears the words, so satisfying to a jellybean’s ears: "This jellybean is just right."

Now imagine a human community as a jar of jellybeans. All different sizes and shapes, some gifted one way, some another, but no person without a distinct gift and no one person ultimately more important than another. In a jellybean community, each person is recognized as having a unique and irreplaceable contribution to make and each one is able to hear the words, "This person is just right."

The Jellybean Conspiracy is a way of discovering what it takes to realize such a community. We call it a "conspiracy" because it brings people together to pass on a secret of potentially life-changing significance. The word is made up of two parts: "con-" which means "together," and "spir-" which means, "to breathe." To conspire is thus "to breathe together" or "to breathe as one." A Jellybean Conspiracy is a project in which people of different gifts come together as one to tell the Jellybean Secret.

The Jellybean Secret is this: everyone’s life is important. According to Jellybean wisdom, we lay the foundation for a healthy community when each person — including the ones whose gifts are most hidden — is accepted as he or she is and given a fair opportunity to develop his or her potential. Surely that’s a secret worth passing on.

I had my own Jellybean experiences growing up. Three of my siblings — Olive, Alison, and Jeffi — were born with MPS that caused them to have multiple disabilities. I’ve shared a part of their story in the essay that follows. The Jellybean Conspiracy has been created, in part, to celebrate the lives of these three beloved Jellybeans and to honor the memory of Rene Martin, the mother who affirmed and enhanced their lives over a span of twenty-six years.

It also honors the lives of Jellybeans everywhere, including those who are a part of the Jellybean Conspiracy Show and those who are in the audience. May we all be given the gift of being accepted in the great jellybean jar of life.