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What is Youth Education in the Arts going to do with $500K and why?

From: George Hopkins, CEO of Youth Education in the Arts

When it became clear that we were going to place in the Top 100 of the CHASE COMMUNITY GIVING PROJECT, the discussion began … “What would we do for the Big Idea?”

Indeed, we were aware of the project and the campaign from 2010 when a number of drum corps were involved in the final contest. We had looked at the different approaches and we had watched with a bit of jealously perhaps as we wished we were involved but … we had not done our homework to be in the contest.  That said, we watched and we learned, and we filed the information away for another day.

Well, when the 2011 CHASE campaign came to be, we leaped into the fold and to our surprise, we placed first of the many non-profits involved in this contest. Actually, once we saw how the contest was shaking we were not surprised for we worked hard to generate votes. But, where the surprise laid, was in the fact that we just never imagined we would be in the “top five.”

When we started to debate the big project we went in many directions because of the complexity of Youth Education in the Arts. We have multiple programs, we have many plans, and we have so much that we have never done because we simply did not have cash. After all, YEA! is a non-profit (formed from The Cadets) that has faced near bankruptcy at least twice in the 30 years I have been here. And although those days were of the darkest, the fiscal situation has always been uncomfortable and there was always worry. What happens if it rains? What happens if the bus breaks down? What happens if we do not get the donations we require? What happens if ….  has been a worry for decades and decades.

So … if we won $500,000, what would we do?

The Cadets

We talked a good deal about The Cadets. A new truck. A new golf cart. There is much we could do that would make us better.  We could even cut tour fees perhaps allowing those without the cash to become members. We could look for more diversity.

But, most of these items are short-term affairs and as much as we love The Cadets, we already spend $1 million dollars per year on the corps. How much more is really appropriate?


In August, YEA is launching Cadets2, a weekend only drum corps. The initial costs and the first year of operation would be about $400,000. What a cool thing if the program could be free for a year to kick it off? We even talked about an all-female corps or full scholarships for inner city youth. But, at the end of the day, we think we have the money for this and well, it is again, a one time investment that would be great to do, but would it really be a GREAT IDEA?

Of note, we are pretty certain that 90 percent of the votes in round one came from Cadet folks. So, did we have a responsibility to use this cash for The Cadets? What would folks think? Would they work hard for us? Would Cadet people see to a larger global vision of student support that marks Youth Education in the Arts as a successful national, regional and local youth agency?

The Urban Arts Center

Many do not know about the UAC, but here in Allentown, we offer a number of free programs for inner city youth in dance and percussion. We have had about 200 folks participate in programs in hip-hop dance, hand drumming, and rudimental percussion. We have also been looking to manage instructional sessions for other smaller non-profits here in the Valley.

The UAC costs Youth Education in the Arts about $75K per year, but that is managing services at a very shallow level. With $500K we could expand the program reach, we could locate additional facilities, we could add certified instructors as well as a manager better versed in urban programs. Frankly, in one fast year, we are confident we would be able to expand the Urban Arts Center to 2,000 participants. YEA! would be THE youth agency in Allentown, able to do more for so many more in a community we call home and plan to call home for decades and decades. 

US Scholastic Band Association

The 700 plus schools of the USSBA need help. We know there are cuts and we thought about cutting fees to events; making the indoor season free of charge, providing free instruction, or free clinics. We considered all and decided that without music programs there are no Cadets and without the USSBA and The Cadets, there is no Youth Education in the Arts. There is no Urban Arts Center.

Where we need to make a difference is with the bands. BUT … how do we make a difference that will sustain? How can we help over and over again and again?

And that discussion led us to our BIG IDEA!


In an era of unprecedented fiscal pressures on state and local governments, and consequently upon our nation’s schools, the future of the arts, and particularly music programs, in our schools is in jeopardy and will require a new model of support to survive. While studies consistently show that participation in school music programs is a reliable predictor of academic success, the American tradition of participation in the school band is in danger of disappearing in many areas. These bands not only entertain, but create a unique opportunity to teach and learn the values of teamwork, persistence, leadership, attitude and positive work ethic. chase sticker

With more than 700 bands enrolled in Youth Education in then Arts programs, we are in a unique position to assist our schools in finding new ways to secure the funding that they need from private sources to support and encourage music programming, staffing and curriculum.

Our project is the creation of an annual March4Music to support scholastic music programs in the United States.

Based on our own successful “march-a-thon”  and following the non-profit “walk for a cause” model, The March4Music will include high visibility “march-a-thon”  events in major stadiums  designed to attract both funding and awareness to compensate for the continued reduction of  school arts budgets.

Participating schools and students will also be invited to a free performance kickoff event at an NFL venue featuring the best marching music organizations in the world as an introduction to the possibilities of a successful program and as an incentive to participate in raising funds and awareness for their individual programs.   In addition to the major events, March4Music will be fully supported by traditional and new media as well as social media tools and turnkey local events for those participating schools, with operational and administrative support provided by Youth Education in the Arts.   All proceeds from March4Music will remain with participating schools and could generate up to $3,000,000 in additional funding for the arts.

And the best part – once the project is established in year one with the grant from CHASE we, and the schools will be able to continue this effort for years to come. Like other walks or thons, the March4Music will become an institution that supports music, marching bands, drum corps and kids for a long, long time.

Round two of the CHASE COMMUNITY GIVING campaign begins on May 19 at 12:01 a.m. and runs for one week. We hope you will vote for us. We ask you to have your friends vote for us.


Starting May 19 through midnight May 25, visit the Chase Community Giving page on Facebook and LIKE the page. Then select Youth Education in the Arts and cast your vote for our BIG IDEA…


Click here to visit Chase Community Giving on Facebook.

Also, join our two Groups on Facebook to assist in spreading the word to your friends.

‘USSBA Chases $500K’ Facebook group

‘The Cadets Chase $500K’ Facebook group




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