Operation Evergreen: Guitars Over Guns Program
Last year, I began working as a music mentor with an organization called Guitars Over Guns (GOGO), an arts-based youth development non-profit that provides high-quality music instruction and mentoring to kids in challenging environments. In partnership with two co-teachers, I directed a group of 9 students in an ensemble setting, teaching the habits & mindsets of excellent musicians.
In December of 2015, GOGO was awarded a $7,500 grant to fund in-school programming to supplement our already existing after-school music program at Evergreen Academy MS in McKinley Park. Our Guitars Over Guns mentors worked collaboratively with the in-house music teacher to create and implement units for 317 6th-8th graders over the course of 12 weeks, emphasizing a unique blend of National Arts & Social-Emotional Learning standards. During these lessons, students explored the cultural & historical contexts for different eras of popular music as well as performance-related skills, working collaboratively with their peers to build relationships & persevere through challenges. Each unit culminated with a concert, which for some students, marked their first ever public performance.
Under our leadership, the GOGO after-school program at Evergreen tripled in size over the course of the 2015-16 school year. Participating students cited improvement in their self-image, confidence, & discipline, and 88% agreed by program's end that working in a musical group could help them make positive decisions both in and outside of school.
Due to lack of funding, we learned the same $7,500 grant will not be renewed this year. Through end-of-year fundraising projects and a generous contribution from Evergreen's administrators who believe in our program, we've recouped $6,100 of the lost funds for this particular program, leaving our deficit at $1,400. We are applying to the Awesome Foundation because of their commitment to excellent ideas & to make an investment in some of Chicago's most deserving kids.
Funded by Chicago, IL (February 2017)