Three great youth music programs we love

Love music? Love working with young people? Interested in organizing a music program for youth in your community, but not sure what it could look like?

You’ve come to the right place. Over the years, we’ve worked with many leaders who have started creative initiatives in their communities that get young people involved in music, often in conjunction with something else engaging like the outdoors, visual arts, or technology. They’re all different,  but they all have some common threads (such as, we’ll just say it, being awesome).

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AWESOME PROJECT: A garden classroom and a space for possibility in Cleveland

Dawn Glasco, a Community Engagement Coordinator who works with children, has lived on East 76th street, Cleveland, for the past 10 years. And right outside her window, across the street from her home, all those years, had sat a large vacant lot — run down, overgrown with tall grass that the city wasn’t mowing, and littered with trash. A couple of years ago, Glasco started to feel ready to do something about it, summoned her courage, and began going door to door, asking neighbors if they’d join a group effort to beautify the street and turn the lot into an outdoor classroom. She also called the city, asked them to come and mow, and got permission to improve the lot. Glasco’s neighbors were receptive, and so was the city. For her, a door had opened.

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Hosting a Community Meeting? Avoid These 5 Mistakes!

Hey urban planners and city officials!

Are you working with a local community on a planning process? Hosting a public meeting to gather input or feedback on a plan is a familiar part of the task. But if you’ve been doing this kind of work for a while, you’ve probably attended (or even, yikes, led) a community meeting that’s gone horribly wrong. There’s no worse feeling than being in front of a room full of angry people when you’re trying to build trust and work together to improve the community for everyone.

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AWESOME PROJECT: The Heights Line, Memphis

At a community meeting recently, in a Memphis neighborhood called The Heights, a white woman named Linda Burgess – a resident since the 70s – stood up and said that she’d had an answer to prayer. She’d seen her African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian friends and neighbors joining hands in service of their community. They were working together on the Heights Line project: a pop-up public green space on National Street, designed to bring people together and to connect the historically overlooked neighborhood to exciting nearby developments. “Linda said that we’ve been needing this in our community,” explains Jared Myers, Executive Director of The Heights Community Development Corporation (CDC).

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AWESOME PROJECT: We The People Growers’ Association

Melvin Parson, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, never planned to be a farmer. In fact, he’d never even had the faintest interest in gardening until fate struck a few years ago. “This wonderful lady named Verna,” Parson remembers, “who got around in a motorized wheel chair, passed away in 2013. And she was a prolific gardener, and she had a raised vegetable bed. I’d lived in the neighborhood for four years and never thought about growing a vegetable. It didn’t cross my mind. But in the spring of 2014, her vegetable bed landed in my lap. I’m like ‘what the hell am I supposed to do with this?’ So I just kind of rolled with it. And I remember being out there cleaning out her vegetable bed that spring, and I could feel Verna’s spirit come over me. And I’m like ‘Verna, look, you know I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna do the best I can in honor of you.’”

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Awesome project: A safe haven for aged-out foster kids in Cleveland

By the time Kevinee Gilmore was in college, it seemed like she really was beating all the odds. In the foster care system since she was 13, the oldest of five, she’d never expected to succeed in school, not to mention graduate from Cleveland State with a Bachelors degree in social work.

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What I learned when the tables were turned: ioby’s Rhiannon Chester tries crowdfunding

Ever since she was a teenager, ioby Action Strategist Rhiannon Chester has dedicated much of her energy to working for better public education, immigrant rights, affirmative action, economic justice, and LGBT youth in her native Detroit. After years of supporting others’ projects, Rhiannon led her first ioby campaign this past spring. Read about what she did, how it went, and the things she learned when the tables were turned!

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