The New York City Mission Society: bringing the gift of music to underserved students in New York City

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GRIOT in action.

Anat Gerstein Inc.

GRIOT in action.

New York, N.Y. – Many schools in New York City have cut or drastically curtailed music and arts programs in recent years, leading the New York City Comptroller’s Office to declare: “the provision of arts education in New York City’s public schools has become both inequitable and underfunded.”

The New York City Mission Society is working to remedy this cultural chasm with a unique program called GRIOT (which stands for Global Rhythms In Our Tribe). Created in partnership with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, GRIOT brings the gift of music to students who otherwise have no access to professional music instruction.

From September 13, 2016 to June 13, 2017, 10- to 18-year-old students enrolled in GRIOT will meet twice a week afterschool at Minisink, the Mission Society’s flagship community center in Harlem. Through a focus on the rich cultural history of Afro Latin music, GRIOT students will:

  • acquire basic proficiency on a musical instrument (trombone, trumpet, or drums)

  • learn to read music

  • explore musical theory and concepts, such as the technology associated with the creation of sound

  • perform in an ensemble at community events

GRIOT’s long-term goals are to increase cross-cultural tolerance and understanding, and increase low-income/minority students’ interest in music-related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Piloted last year with 30 students, the Mission Society expects to enroll approximately 60 students for the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. Recruitment begins August 1; interested students can register at www.Tinyurl.com/GRIOT-app

This innovative program is part of the Mission Society’s mission to offer academic support and cultural enrichment to our city’s most underserved populations.

“Providing the highest-quality educational programming is how we are going to change the landscape of poverty and opportunity in New York City,” said Mission Society President Elsie McCabe Thompson.

The nonprofit, which is more than two centuries old, also has created a new program to provide academic support to student basketball athletes, and comprehensively revised the curriculum of its popular Power Academy summer and afterschool programs.

For more information on GRIOT, visit: https://www.nycmissionsociety.org/about-griot/.

About New York City Mission Society

The New York City Mission Society has been on the frontlines of the war on poverty for more than 200 years. Today, our progressive portfolio of education, workforce development, and cultural enrichment programs make a positive, long-term impact on youth in the City’s most underserved communities. Each year, we serve more than 18,000 children and families throughout New York City with our programs, supportive services, and community events.

About the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance

The nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) was established by Arturo O’Farrill in 2007 to promote Afro Latin Jazz through a comprehensive array of performance, education, and international cultural diplomacy initiatives. ALJA provides institutional support for the Grammy-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, offers instruction to young students, introduces new audiences to Afro Latin Jazz, commissions emerging and established composers to enlarge the Afro Latin jazz repertoire, and maintains a world-class collection of Latin Jazz musical scores and recordings. For more information, visit www.afrolatinjazz.org.

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