Music & Youth Initiative Grants $360,000 to 11 Nonprofits to Support After-School Music Programs

Boston MA, January 15, 2019— The Music & Youth Initiative is pleased to announce that in 2018, it provided $360,000 in cash, equipment, and in-kind support to 11 Youth Development Organizations in Massachusetts, Texas, and Georgia, to support their after-school music programs.

With funding and partnership with Music & Youth, these Organizations are able to establish and sustain Music Clubhouses where underserved youth, ages 10-18, have access to contemporary instruments; state-of-the-art music production and technology; performance opportunities, and much more. With a strong focus on mentorship, Music & Youth’s approach helps build participants’ self-confidence and self-esteem, providing them with life-changing skills that they can apply well beyond the music studio.

“Giving youth the opportunity to play the music they love on the instruments that they’re excited about is enough to help a teen stay off the streets. It gives them a creative outlet that they may not have had otherwise.” says Gary Eichhorn, CEO of the Music & Youth Initiative. “And the skills our participants learn are transferable to many aspects of their lives now and in the future.”

Collectively, the Clubhouses had over 1,000 youth enrolled in contemporary music lessons in 2018.

The Massachusetts organizations receiving grants in 2018 were:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell
Hyde Square Task Force
Malden YMCA
Merrimack Valley YMCA
Sociedad Latina
Waltham Boys & Girls Club
West End House Boys & Girls Club

Also receiving grants in 2018 were:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County (TX)
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (GA)

About Music & Youth Initiative: (www.musicandyouth.org)
Music & Youth establishes sustainable, high quality after-school contemporary music programs for underserved youth ages 10-18, through collaboration with leading Youth Development Organizations, Universities, and Corporate Partners. These programs are free (or for a minimal cost) to the participating youth. Founded in 2004, Music & Youth Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Turning Pain Into Inspiration

13-year-old Yannis is wise beyond his years. Maybe it’s because he has experienced things that most kids don’t have to deal with at such a young age. Yannis’s mother died when he was only 3-years-old.

“Nothing ever takes away the pain of loss,” says Yannis, “but you can move on and never forget, always honor where you came from and who was important in your life.”

It was this sentiment that drew him to the Ten Toes Challenge, an online viral challenge in which kids freestyle over the “Ten Toes Down” instrumental line. The typical themes for the raps are about hardships in relationships, tragic losses, and other struggles in life.

After sitting in on just a few recording sessions at the Music Clubhouse, Yannis went home and wrote a rap about his mom and living without her. “It’s a heavy subject for a 13-year-old, let alone anyone, to confront and deal openly with the hardship he and his family have gone through,” says his music Clubhouse Director. “His goal was that he wanted to be real and write about something that hits close to home for him, but also something that he has learned to overcome.”

When Yannis shared his original track with the other members of the Music Clubhouse, they were really supportive. It was a pivotal moment for Yannis and his peers. Yannis not only had the encouragement of his community, but he was also giving back through his message. “I hope it helps other kids who are going through a hard time to just know there’s hope and support for you, and that family is number one,” says Yannis.

Teen Lets Her Guard Down, Puts Trust in Mentors

Things weren’t going well for Carla. She was a teen who was often out at night, walking around town, and getting in to trouble. She was fighting at school. She didn’t deal well with authority.

Even when she was invited to join her local Music Clubhouse, it didn’t get better right away. Carla and two friends who joined with her simply “didn’t know how to work with others without escalating to screaming and fighting,” says her Music Director.

But the mentors at the Music Clubhouse don’t give up on their youth. During the first few weeks, staff followed up on Carla’s behavior throughout each day. They found out that Carla loves singing and dancing. And so they helped her prepare for performances at the Club’s open mic nights.

With each subsequent performance, Carla built up her self-confidence. She was even part of the Clubhouse’s first music video for which she co-wrote an entire verse with the help of the Club’s Youth Leader.

As she became more involved in the music program, Carla’s behavior improved. “We were able to show her that we are reliable, caring adult figures in her life,” says her Music Director, “And Carla slowly became more polite and one of the better behaved members of the Club.”

Carla’s tremendous strides extended well beyond the walls of the Music Clubhouse. She started fighting less often at school, and opened the door to high academic achievement. Report cards that once said things like, “struggles to behave and respect authority” now said “understands the material very well.”

Carla’s experience is a real-life example of the power of music, the power of mentorship, and the power of a teen who is ready to turn her life around.

“Groovey” Camp for Youth in Foster Care

With the help of a compassionate music mentor and the Music Impact Network, underserved youth have transformative musical experience


When professional bass player, Geena Spigarelli, considered what she might do while on break from touring this summer, she considered a number of things. Then she recalled how fulfilled she felt when she was a music mentor with Kids in a New Groove (KING), an Austin-based organization that provides free, private music instruction to youth living in foster care.

“I reached out to KING Executive Director, Laura Wood,” Geena says, “And we came up with the idea for a brand new Summer Music Camp.”

It was sure to be a success if only Geena could figure out what to do for whole a whole week with 20 kids, many who were living in a group home and had no prior music experience.

That’s where Music Impact Network came in. Continue reading

Earthquake Survivor’s Shining Moments

Samuel came up with the hook for his original song while working at his restaurant job. Since he couldn’t write it down while at work, he sang it to himself over and over and over again, so he wouldn’t forget it.

Recently, teen performer, Samuel, sang at a TEDx event. He recognizes how significant this is. “It was an experience I never would have had before.” You see, just a few years ago Samuel was new to this country after surviving a catastrophic natural disaster.

When the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, Samuel was still in grade school. Everything changed in a matter of moments.

Displaced by the tragedy, Samuel and his family made their way to the Boston area to make a new home for themselves. It was there that he found solace in his local Boys & Girls Club. Over the years since then, Samuel has been an active member of the Club, and until recently, he was an occasional participant in the Music Clubhouse, where he sometimes liked to freestyle rap with a group of other teens.

But this year was different— and transformative— for Samuel, says his Music Clubhouse Director. “He underwent tremendous personal growth through our annual multi-week ‘Clubhouse Idol’ music competition. It was really amazing to see it happening in real-time as he progressed through the rounds.” During the weeks of the competition, Samuel began showing up to the studio more frequently to work on his song choices, to record, and just generally be around music.

Each round of the competition brought challenges and triumphs for Samuel. In the second round, Samuel picked his song, Pretty Young Thing by Michael Jackson, only five minutes before going on stage! Despite the last-minute song choice, he advanced to the finals along with “the most competitive field of finalist contestants that we’ve ever seen,” says his Music Clubhouse Director.

The week before the finals, while working at his job at a restaurant, Samuel came up with the hook for his original song. Since he couldn’t write it down or record it at work, he sang it to himself over and over and over again all day long, so he wouldn’t forget it. When he got to the studio that evening, he was excited and motivated. “And only 45 minutes later,” says his Director, “Samuel had fully written his original song about growing up, becoming a man, and learning to find your own way in the world.” With only a few days left to go before the finals, Samuel created the instrumental and taught it to the backing band.

Samuel delivered a soulful, heartfelt performance of his song. And this motivated, talented, hardworking, former refugee from Haiti… won first place in the competition!

Samuel never saw it coming, but his Music Clubhouse Director did. “His mentors had faith in him, and he worked hard. It’s a winning combination.”

Teen Has What It Takes… and Pays It Forward

Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki

What do you get when you combine a passion for volunteering, musical talent, good character, hard work and professionalism? You get a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music!

High school senior and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston member Diamonte (Monte), was thrilled to find out recently that he earned his spot at Berklee— full tuition paid for. It was exciting news (albeit not surprising news) to everyone who knows him. From the moment that Monte first entered the Music Clubhouse at the Boys and Girls Club in 2014, he was on the path to success.

Music Director Daniel “DP” Pattianakota remembers Monte showing up that first summer with his trombone in hand. DP recommended that Monte try out the bass guitar, since it shares the bass clef with the trombone, and Monte took to it immediately. His first performance on bass was shortly thereafter at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston Music Awards. Monte has subsequently performed on bass at his successful auditions for the Boston Arts Academy, the Berklee City Music program, and Berklee College of Music. Last year, Monte and his band won a music competition and were invited to Dallas to perform at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference.

Still, it was more than just his musical expertise that got Monte that full scholarship to Berklee.

“Monte has excellent character,” explains DP, “He has a good heart and always shows so much professionalism at the Clubhouse.” His strength of character led to his being hired as a Youth Leader for the Yawkey Club. Through this unique part-time job, Monte taught and mentored younger teens. He represented the Music Clubhouse well, always willing to introduce himself to visitors. He helped with everything ranging from setting up performances to various administrative duties. He also had the distinct responsibility of organizing the musical performances for the grand openings of two new branches of Bank of America.

DP says that these experiences have prepared Monte really well for Berklee and beyond. What they offer in the Music Clubhouse is a lot of collaborative and ensemble work, requiring youth to learn how to play together and to listen to each other, both musically and in their social interactions. They also focus on understanding the basics of musicianship and the necessity of preparation for performances. Furthermore, they instill in their youth the importance of representing themselves well, whether they’re hanging around with their peers, at an audition, or performing on stage. Not only do these principles align well with the music education and environment at Berklee, but they also prepare the teens for their future roles in life.

As for Monte, he’s already looking to his future. In addition to attending Berklee this Fall, Monte is planning to do a work-study at the Music Clubhouse, where he can continue the valuable work he has done there already and give back to the community that supported him along his path to success.

Teen’s Workforce Experience Builds Path to Success

Bank of America Awards $25K Grant to Music & Youth Initiative’s Youth Leader Program

Boston MA, July 19, 2018— The Music & Youth Initiative’s Youth Leader Program, which provides workforce development opportunities for teens who have demonstrated excellence and leadership potential in their after-school Music Clubhouse programs, recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America. With this generous support from Bank of America, teens are getting opportunities to mentor younger members while gaining valuable work experience, including organizational, administrative, and professional skills.

High school senior and recent Youth Leader, Monte, is one outstanding recipient of this opportunity. Monte was thrilled to find out recently that he earned his spot at Berklee College of Music – full tuition paid for. Those who know him well aren’t at all surprised: Monte is the complete package. Not only does he have musical expertise, but he has shown exceptional character and maturity in his position as Youth Leader at the Boys & Girls Club.

Continue reading

Music+Dedication=Results

Teen participants, Jason and Trey, attend different Music Clubhouses. But they have a lot in common.

Both are talented musicians. Both attend their Clubhouses consistently every day and with great enthusiasm. And both are seeing the payoff to their commitment and hard work.

In addition to their musical accomplishments— such as Jason playing in an elite band, and Trey learning how to write and record his original songs— the teens have grown and matured personally.

Trey made such progress that he won a Junior Youth of the Year award at his Club. And he proudly shares that “My grades and writing have gotten better.”

Similarly, Jason’s Music Director says, “He has shown a huge improvement academically. After struggling last year, he just showed me a report card with excellent grades and nearly perfect attendance.”

This progress helped Jason look to the future. “The music program has given me the greatest insight on what I want to do in the future. Without the music program I would still be looking for what to do after high school. I plan to pursue a career in the music industry where I can support myself through music.”