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2020: Year in Review – Progress, Achievements, and Milestones

January 12, 2021

INTRODUCTION

The past year has been a challenging one for so many people and many organizations, and YMF is certainly no exception. Despite the disruption brought about by the Covid-19 health crisis, and the resulting economic uncertainty, we are grateful to report that the organization has met the moment with adaptability, resiliency, and determination. New programs were created, new technologies were employed and transformative new partnerships have been forged. We are grateful for the opportunity to report on highlights of the past year.

First Quarter, January – March, 2020

As the year began, YMF was well along in achieving the programmatic and service impact benchmarks we established for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. Our 34 Teaching Artists were providing weekly, tuition-free music instruction to over 4,800 students at 27 schools throughout Los Angeles.

The Music Heals Program we developed for the formerly gang-involved, recently incarcerated men and women of Homeboy Industries was thriving here in our recently opened facility in Cypress Park. We had also added a second Music Heals program for the highly at-risk high school students attending Homeboy Industries’ Learning Works High Schools. NBC Channel 4 produced a feature segment on the Music Heals program that aired on March 16.

Of special note was the success of our Newcomer’s Program English Language Acquisition and Immersion Program. The impetus for this program arose from YMF’s innovative partnership with the Compton Unified School District’s English as Second Language team and Dominguez High School. The program is a unique approach to providing English Language Learners with an immersion experience that utilizes music as a vehicle for language expression. The program provides robust language development through engaging, structured music instruction that embodies the cultural and linguistic diversity of students new to the United States. Spectrum 1 News produced a feature on the Newcomers Program that aired on January 9, 2020.

We also launched a unique program for high school aged young women in partnership with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and his WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiative. Entitled AMPLIFY:WISE, this is a 10-week audio engineering pilot program created specifically for young women attending Title 1 high schools interested in learning the fundamentals of engineering and music production while exploring career opportunities in the field.

One of the highlights was a field trip to the legendary Capitol Records complex where students received a tour and spent time with industry professionals who provided career advice and answered a wide range of questions.

Second Quarter, April – June, 2020

By the beginning of April, each of our 27 partners had suspended on-site programming due to the Covid-19 crisis. It became immediately clear that we needed to create an alternative modality through which to keep students engaged, our Teaching Artists employed, and remain viable as an organization.

After two days of intense discussion we determined that the solution was to create an online platform to accomplish these aims, then pivoted quickly; mobilizing our team of Teaching Artists to begin creating lessons that included video content and interactive components utilizing Google Classroom. We activated our office staff to train Teaching Artists in content development. Staff then uploaded it to the platform. Within two weeks, over 150 individually created lessons were posted, organized by school site and individual classroom. After six weeks we now had over 250 lessons posted. By mid-May over 400 lessons had been created and posted.

The overwhelming majority of our school site partners adopted our online platform and integrated it into their distance learning curricula for the remainder of the academic year. The YMF Online Music Academy platform
also gave us the flexibility to respond to whichever model our school site partners would choose to employ for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

Third Quarter, July – September, 2020

Hearing of the innovative and engaging nature of our online programming and platform, new partners reached out to YMF and asked us to provide programming over the summer. Cal State Dominguez Hills and UC Irvine together engaged YMF to provide programming to six schools in the Compton Unified School district. A 7-year GEAR UP grant awarded to these institutions is providing funding for these ongoing programs. Students and classroom teachers reported a high level of satisfaction. YMF has been asked to continue providing these programs on a yearly basis.

In order to build upon the online platform we had developed, and to fully take advantage of the benefits of state-of-the-art online learning tools, we employed a consultant to advise us on the optimal technology and platform to use in building a more robust, feature-rich next generation of our YMF Online Music Academy. We decided to utilize Lifter, a well-regarded Learning Management System which we could incorporate into the new organizational website we were in the process of developing. Templates for courses and lessons were then created and tested.

Existing lessons housed in our first-generation Google Sites platform were reviewed and catalogued for the purposes of determining which would be appropriate to transfer to the second-generation Online Music Academy. This work continued throughout the summer months and through September.

At the end of the summer, re-engagement with school and site partners began, along with course development and logistical planning for the 2020-2021 academic year. As of this writing, the majority of our school site partners from last year have committed to partner with YMF to provide in class, synchronous instruction via Zoom. We also added a few new partners. All current and former school site partners have access to Online Music Academy content.

In late August we launched the YMF Community Bridge Workshop Series. Intended to be live events in our newly dedicated Lawrence N. Field Recital Hall, the intention of the Community Bridge Workshop Series is to build community through connecting performers and community members by presenting artists who represent the cultures and communities relevant to those we serve. We adapted the series to the live-streaming format to maintain social distancing and safety protocols.

First up was a series of workshops led by individual members of LA’s own shape-shifting, genre-bending superstars Chicano Batman. Over the course of four consecutive weekly workshops Eduardo Arenas, Carlos
Arévalo, Bardo Martinez and Gabriel Villa each shared their unique perspectives on the creative process, instrumental technique, the importance of incorporating one’s influences, and pursuing a career in the music industry.

Next was a performance and question and answer session with legendary vocalist, improviser, and social justice activist Dwight Trible. Accompanied by sitarist/bassist Paul Livingstone, cellist Peter Jacobson, and percussionist Christopher Garcia, Mr. Trible gave an emotionally searing performance, followed by a lively Q&A session that covered topics such as the power and place of music in social activism, the importance of access to music education, and connection between spirituality and musical expression. This workshop was presented in conjunction with our community partner Soul Force Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that promotes social justice through music and the arts.

All workshops were live-streamed on our Facebook page and garnered an average engagement of over 4,000 viewers and participants.

Fourth Quarter, October – December, 2020

We continue in the process of engaging and onboarding school site partners from last year, while providing synchronous, Zoom-based programming for the schools we currently serve.

At the time of this writing we are currently serving 19 schools and organizations. Our partners include:

• Centinela Valley Union High School District
• Compton Unified School District
• Hollywood Community Housing
• LearningWorks Continuation High Schools
• Los Angeles Unified School District
• New Los Angeles Charter Schools
• Para Los Niños Family of Schools
• Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Homeboy Industries
• UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholars

We are on track to complete the next generation of our Online Music Academy (OMA) in the second quarter of 2021.

Our new organizational website was launched in early December.

We are excited to have ended 2020 on a high note! YMF has just embarked on a partnership with the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (HCHC) in the creation of a truly unique and innovative service model. To start, we will move our headquarters into the ground floor of their newest affordable housing project, the Florence Mills Apartments. HCHC will subsidize the costs of this 5,000 square foot space from which we will serve the residents of both the Florence Mills and Paul Williams apartments with tuition-free music instruction in over 15 instruments, composition and songwriting, a music technology lab, and a groundbreaking workshop/concert series curated by YMF’s Senior Artistic Advisor Vijay Gupta.

The space has excellent visibility on both Central and Jefferson Avenues, along with a large, covered and private parking lot directly behind the facility. The main performance area will retain the name of Lawrence
N. Field Recital Hall. The space is being delivered raw, and requires a build out. We are in the process of engaging an architect and commercial builder, and expect to be receiving proposals for design and construction shortly. Upon acceptance of a proposal, we will undertake a targeted fundraising campaign to cover the design and construction costs.

In Conclusion

We are deeply grateful to the funders and supporters for making all of this possible, and to our Board of Directors, staff, and Teaching Artists for making all this happen.