“El Sistema Oklahoma is a one-of-a-kind high-quality, free after-school program in Oklahoma City for at-risk children. While there are other youth orchestras and school programs, none of the programs are operating free of charge, provide all instruments and all other musical needs, focus on positive youth development and use music as a tool for this development. Many programs are focused on simply making music. We chose to focus on music as the tool for transformation because of music’s exceptional power to be a gateway to success for children, who many times are unsuccessful in other social and academic areas. Additionally, access to high-quality music education is often limited in low income areas due to the lack of resources within the public schools and families. The costs of instruments and the need for rigorous, on-going training for success are barriers in these communities. We also believe that student voice is a critical part of our work and we provide opportunities for our students to learn to be leaders and use their own voices through composition, collaboration and improvisation. The 197 boys and girls served at El Sistema Oklahoma during the 2017-2018 school-year were in 3rd-10th grades and attended one of our 11 service site schools within Oklahoma City Public Schools and live and attend school within 2.5 miles of our campus at 1329 NW 23rd Street. 100% of our children qualify for free/reduced price meals. 66% of our children are a minority (Hispanic and African American). 18% of households do not speak English as their primary language. 48% of our households do not have any education higher than a high school diploma/GED. The children do not have to have any kind of musical aptitude to join our program. El Sistema Oklahoma serves children who would otherwise not have this kind of opportunity. In addition to programming for children, El Sistema Oklahoma is also training the next generation of music teachers through its partnership to the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University and its own Future Awesome Music Educators (F.A.M.E.) program for children in our program who aspire to be teachers in the future.”

 

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