connect / 2016

MusicWorks: connecting music-industry pros to underserved kids for social transformation

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by L.A. Works

MusicWorks mobilizes music industry professionals to volunteer with after-school music programs as a tool for social transformation.

Please describe your project proposal.

To leverage our prime location in the capital of the entertainment and music industries, L.A. Works has launched MusicWorks to harness the excitement garnered by music-industry professionals in order to significantly increase volunteerism in L.A.. This project will make L.A. the “best place to connect” by bringing together music industry pros with after-school music programs to excite youth participants; inspire a new cadre of skilled-volunteers; and raise the profiles of the programs served.

Which of the connect metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Social & emotional support
  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Residential segregation
  • Total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to connect?

Through volunteer mobilization and management, as well as some creative marketing, L.A. Works will address the challenges facing music education programs. We have launched the pilot MusicWorks program to connect volunteers from the entertainment and music industry to collaborative music projects. During the one- to eight-week long projects, students will prepare for and participate in a “masterclass” or concert session with a guest artist, culminating in an intimate performance showcasing the collaboration and aimed at attracting new volunteers to the host nonprofit. Each project is to be professionally filmed by a volunteer, resulting in a 3 to 5- minute video used to promote our incredible partner organizations and the MusicWorks mission.

In addition to these project-based opportunities, MusicWorks volunteers are individually vetted and placed in ongoing opportunities at over forty nonprofit programs as volunteer teachers, teaching assistants, and other roles as appropriate. Our volunteers are musicians, producers, directors, teaching artists, recording artists and other entertainment professionals and amateurs.

Early, intensive, consistent educational intervention, provided by volunteers through in-class and after-school programming, can help struggling children achieve more than double the academic and social gains of their peers who do not receive these services. In the recession years half of California’s public schools shuttered their music programs. As a result, there are now 700,000 fewer students enrolled in school music classes than before the budget cuts, with California ranking last in the nation in the ratio of music teachers to students.

Additionally, Los Angeles ranks an appalling 45th out of 51 major cities in the U.S. for volunteerism. Long commuting times and high poverty rates can adversely affect volunteering rates and the most frequently cited reason for not volunteering is not knowing how or where to plug-in. In a region as diverse and vast as L.A., we need to make it easy for people to connect to service. Leveraging celebrity reach for MusicWorks will increase total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have, organically spreading the word about this volunteer opportunity, and drive volunteer participation rates to increase – moving us from the embarrassing 45th place nationally.

Of course equally important to our L.A. pride, is the positive benefits that will come from significantly increasing the rates of volunteerism. Volunteerism is an avenue for individuals to have first-hand experience in learning about the pressing issues in the community; it bridges gaps within a community for greater cohesiveness and diminishes residential segregation; and inspires further action to bring about change. With the help of this award, we hope that in the near future, L.A. will be thought of as a model for service as much as we are known for entertainment, sports, and our weather.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

character limit) L.A. Works has designed the following program goals and outcomes to guide our evaluation. These ensure we meet our overarching goal of connecting music industry professionals to after-school music program opportunities in order to (1) raise the profile of service in the community to increase the rate of volunteerism, and (2) strengthen music education for underserved youth.

For the volunteers, volunteer leaders, and nonprofits, L.A. Works will conduct post-project surveys to collect the relevant data in order to track and measure our success in achieving the desired outcomes. We will ask that the nonprofits provide us with quantitative data on the impact the volunteers have had on their mission and clients served.

We will track the following outcomes in order to measure the success of this program: • Number of masterclasses or collaborative concert between renowned/professional mentors and students from selected nonprofit organization. • Percentage of volunteers that continue to volunteer at ongoing opportunities after participation at masterclass. • Number of non-professional teaching artists serving as teaching assistants to classes, rehearsals and concerts. • Funds provided by new donors to the program. • Academic and social gains of youth who participate in extracurricular music program with a mentor.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research