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Oakland Youth Chorus

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Singing & Choral Groups, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Oakland Youth Chorus unites diverse communities and transforms young people’s lives through excellence in music education and community performance. OYC offers school and community based music and choral training programs for East Bay children and youth. Through our elementary in-school programs, after school Miracle Choruses, Middle School Choruses, and our advanced Concert Chorus and Chamber Singers ensembles, OYC brings access with excellence in music instruction and community building performance opportunities that increase confidence, community engagement, musical skills, and creativity. OYC was founded in 1974 to nurture the musical talent of Oakland’s youth. Since then, OYC has grown from a single community youth chorus to a comprehensive youth choral music education organization serving hundreds of singers each year. OYC trains youth in a varied repertoire, supporting artistic diversity by providing programs that reflect and contribute to the cultural richness of our region. OYC’s young people develop close friendships across lines of race, class and culture, multicultural respect, and a lifelong love of music, changing lives and our world through the power of the human voice.

Results: Dynamic concerts of world music and Broadway’s greatest hits, connecting across the Bay to support the San Francisco Boys and Girls Club, the Gap Foundation, and Pier 39, and singing for some of the East Bay’s finest arts and social service organizations to celebrate their work and support our community through lifting our voices together: in the 2013-14 season, the Concert Chorus did it all! The performance season began supporting two very special organizations, helping them to celebrate milestones of their own. We lent our voices to the dedication of the new SF Boys and Girls Club Clubhouse at the GAP Foundation, and showed our love for all families in singing for Adopt a Special Kid’s 40th anniversary celebration. December was very special for the Chorus, as we were the voices for Oakland Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker with the Oakland East Bay Symphony- collaborating with organizations we treasure singing with! The spring brought us into an exciting new collaboration with a group of men who became dear friends to OYC through our joint performance of Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass in April. Our experience working with the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus inspired our singers, and in the rehearsals one of the singers’ grandmothers’ was heard to remark that history was being made with our joint performance of that work. For OYC, it meant doing what we always do: discovering the common love of music and creating new friendships and understanding of others while we sing together. Miracles’ report card (K-5): During the 2013-14 season…. 99% of singers learned songs from different countries. 90% increased confidence singing in front of others. 89% learned to read music. Over 80% performed in a concert. 91% of K-2 students could maintain a steady beat independently. 89% performed rhythmic patterns with accuracy, and 85% matched pitch. 90% of 3-5 singers accurately matched pitch for complex melodic patterns. 86% matched complex rhythmic patterns. Miracle singers supported Relay for Life, Super Stars Literacy, holiday tree lightings, workshops at the Oakland Public Libraries, and community events in recent seasons, contributing to the vibrant life of their communities through song.

Target demographics: OYC serves children and youth ages 5-19 in Oakland, Alameda, Richmond, and reaching throughout the East Bay.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 650 singers in the 2014-15 season

Geographic areas served: Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Programs: OYC produces two professional choral concerts per year for all of our singers, performs at Bay Area community events, and tours locally, regionally, and nationally. OYC’s current in-school and after-school vocal and general music training programs reach children in 15 Oakland, Alameda, and Richmond schools and community based sites.

Community Stories

44 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jeremy37

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first heard Oakland Youth Chorus perform in the early nineties prior to moving to the Bay Area. I was a young musician and had the opportunity to hear a friend guest conduct a new piece of hers, featuring OYC high-school aged singers. I was blown away. The performance, and the immense talent of the young singers, made such an impression, that later when my son began to show interest in music and singing, I was glad OYC was still around nearly 20 years later! He is now an active member of OYC and through dedicated rehearsal, practice and performance, has steadily improved his skills. OYC has played a significant part in his musical development and he even experienced his first choral tour to New Orelans earlier this year. The organization, administrative staff, and amazing teachers, are a gift to the Oakland community. I am proud to be part of the Oakland Youth Chorus family.

pray4oakland

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working with Oakland Youth Chorus for a few months now and they are amazing! Sid, Keri and the rest of the crew are outstanding, dedicated and beyond knowledgable. From giving out information to performances, this group never lets me down and is my go-to for all of my organization's events! Please support OYC in anyway that you can :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization for kids, parents and music.

Jeannine H.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My son has been a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus since 2013. I cannot stress enough how glad I am that a friend of ours suggested that he go check them out. He began in the All City Miracles with Miss Rhonda Crane. Through her instruction and gentle guidance he was able to go from being a kid who just sang around the house, to one who really began paying attention to honing his vocal skills. He moved on last year to audition for Miss La Nell Martin, and gained entry into the Concert Chorus. He loves their attention to detail and expanded
repertoire. His experience with fundraising for their tour to New Orleans in April 2016 was a invaluable. Being part of Oakland Youth Chorus has enriched my son's knowledge of music theory and performance, that I expected. It has also given him a sense that through hard work and dedication he can achieve success, not only in chorus, but in other areas of his life, and for that I am grateful.

Amy_307

Client Served

Rating: 5

My child's elementary school in Richmond has our glee club administered by the Oakland Youth Choir, and it's fantastic. First of all, their style of teaching music is call-and-response, so as they are learning theory, they are also able to perform and learn very quickly. In addition to our weekly rehearsals and school performances twice a year, we are invited, whenever we are available, to join other schools who are learning the same songs across the East Bay to performances at community events. So the kids get to be part of this amazing larger community, all wearing their purple shirts. My kids are still small so it's all new to them, but when I look at the older students who have been singing together for 10 years and are soon to go off to college, I am floored with the emotion and the connection through music. And they sound absolutely amazing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Mills College Children's School has been partnering with Oakland Youth Chorus for several years now. They provide dynamic, experienced music teachers who come to our classrooms and teach students about choral singing and percussion, and they organize performances for our families, too. They have been a wonderful addition to our arts program!

Darbi H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is now 9 and has been in chorus with OYC since she was 4.5, and it has not only increased her self esteem but been a positive thing our whole family has participated in. As a single mom they have worked with me in so many ways to make chorus a possibility for her and now her 4 year old brother! He has adored learning the songs and being involved and now he is truly a member! We love it and wish we could do more to support the organization financially!

Denise74

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have continued to be impressed by the work of Oakland Youth Chorus, and its commitment to reaching young people in the local community. I attended last year's holiday concert and was moved to tears by their high quality presentation. The youth seemed to enjoy themselves and were so well-trained. Also, I loved watching the choral teachers encourage the youth backstage. Their interaction seemed warm and genuine. If I was a young person, this is the kind of group that I'd want to be part of.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Oakland Youth Chorus partnered with us at Youth Radio this year on the piloting of our new digital media and technology workforce program by taking on an intern for the summer. OYC's staff and leadership showed, and continue to exhibit, deep commitments to improving the lives of Oakland youth through arts education, personal and professional development. Our sincere thanks go out to the small but mighty team at OYC for genuinely engaging our community on so many levels!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Former '80-'81 OYC member here, hadn't heard the choir in years and last Christmas 2011, as a birthday treat from my mom, my 2 pre-teen daughters, 75 yr old mom and I secured the last few tickets available to the holiday concert at First Presbytarian Church in Oakland, (where we had practiced way back then). I was first of all overwhelmed by the packed sanctuary that I walked into, secondly entertained by the long and diverse holiday program all these children and directors had prepared, and thirdly, as my repeated appreciation goosebumps and tears came forth through so many of their songs, their young voices and message was very touching. I am thrilled to see this urban city choir still being supported beautifully through all that goes on in life. Family and community support shining Oakland pride for sure!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I decided to join the board of Oakland Youth Chorus for a number of reasons—let me count the ways! I am a teacher and school administrator professionally, and OYC is serious—and seriously fun—not only about performance excellence; it also provides a hands-on musical and cultural education that students take with them as they grow up. The love for the craft of teaching and engaging kids is truly evident at each rehearsal. My own formative musical experiences—Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus, Yale Gospel Choir, my folk-singing uncle—also resonate with how I see OYC impacting its youth. Last but not least, I get to hear the concert chorus voices echo up the church stairway during meetings, and witness the joy in my own daughters' faces as they sing together walking home from school or at bedtime. I'm so glad OYC is here for them—and for all of our young singers—and I'm lucky to also get to play a part!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is in his second year at OYC's elementary school-aged Miracle Chorus. He has learned wonderful songs, in language, from all over the world: Ghana, Japan, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Israel. The kids are also learning to read music and practicing with rhythm. It's amazing what Rhonda Crane is able to teach such young children in a single semester. OYC is a very happy and fulfilling part of my family's life.

Allison23

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work with OYC at Think College Now Elementary School. Ms. JJ gets the students excited about music by playing games and teaching them new things. I know the students love the music program because I hear them humming the songs in all their other classes! This program also opens them up to learning about new cultures that they wouldn't otherwise learn about.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have had the unique opportunity to experience the Oakland Youth Chorus in three very different ways, as a former funder, a board member and as a parent of two children who are singers. As a funder I was always impressed by the organization's professionalism and positive work in the community. When I began serving on the board my children were not old enough yet to sing in the chorus but I wanted to support an organization that was providing such a valuable service. Now that both my kids are chorus, my ties to the organization have become all the stronger as I see the positive affect the program has on them. I expect to be involved with OYC for many years to come!

Laura94

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

OYC is providing an invaluable resource to the Bay Area with its strong musical programming, leadership opportunities for youth, and overall sense of ethics and social justice. OYC demands dedicated practice and performance from the youth, from tiny preschools on up. I've shot pictures of the singers in rehearsal and was impressed with the musical standards and the personal attention paid to each student. Standards are high; make no mistake, which gives these students a vision of all that they can be. OYC is a GREAT non-profit serving the needs of individuals and the community with high standards and a strong vision.

Client Served

Rating: 4

OYC is doing an excellent job with the students at St. Martin de Porres School in Oakland. This year they have provided our school with two music teachers who are working weekly with our students. Each Monday, I can hear our students singing and it gives me chills! They sound great, they are really engaged, and they are receiving great music instruction. Thanks to OYC, we are developing the musical talents of our students! Ann Magovern, President of St. Martin de Porres Catholic School.

Mikki M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have many friends who went through this program when they were teens back in the 80's and when my daughter was old enough I was proud to have her join the choir. OYC provides much-need support for Oakland Youth, giving them a place to spend their time and energy, and focusing them on an idea that is bigger than them, at a time when it is easy to forget the needs of the world around you. When my daughter was singing with them, she was exposed to the compassionate outreach to young children in public schools with little to no musical education, she sang at fundraisers and events supporting other non-profits, and committed her time and energy to a goal greater than her own teen mind could have conceived. As an adult, she now speaks passionately and persuasively about the value of musical education for children, understands the connections between the individuals efforts and the group well-being, and really sees the value in investing in a diverse educational experience for children everywhere. OYC takes something fun and lets it teach our children to be compassionate AND passionate about their beliefs. I love OYC. Thank you for all you have done for our family!

Paty A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 8 year old started oyc since she was five. So it's been three years . She loves it and I love it too! All the staff and music instructors are beyond awesome. My daughter I don't think will have stage fright. Thanks oyc for making my daughter shine.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My six-year-old started with Oakland Youth Chorus when she was just four years old because she was exposed to OYC early and said she wanted to sing with them. Knowing that OYC typically starts at Kindergarten, we told her that she'd have to wait. My wife and I were thrilled that the choral director encouraged (ok, insisted) that we bring her to OYC anyway. She was immediately welcomed with open arms by MIss Rhonda who teaches the All-City Miracle Chorus, and she has learned so much in these past couple of years. We are thrilled with her musical progress (she's now taking piano because OYC instilled a love of music and learning), love hearing her sing songs from different cultures and in different languages around the house every day and we are continually blown away by the talent of all of OYC's singers at their annual concerts. We look forward to many, many more years being a part of the OYC family.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was introduced to OYC by my daughter who sang in the chorus throughout elementary school. She had such an outstanding experience and I was blown away by the quality of the singers at the concerts. I was happy to join the board of this organization that works hard to bring choral music to children throughout Oakland and surrounding communities. The economic downturn has hit arts nonprofits hard and I am so proud to be part of an organization that continues to fulfill its mission despite big funding challenges. Our Executive Director, Keri Lindell Butkevich, joined us in June 2012 and she is outstanding! Come to a concert and see for yourself why Oakland Youth Chorus is so special.