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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Little Kids Rock

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Bands & Ensembles, Education, Music, Primary & Elementary Schools

Mission: Little Kids Rock is a national nonprofit organization determined to build a world, through music, where kids can lead creative, rich, purposeful lives, and we won't rest until every public school student has the opportunity to unlock his or her inner music-maker.

Results: Little Kids Rock has: Brought free instrumental music lessons into more than 300,000 kids' lives. Trained and equipped more than 2,360 public school teachers to run Modern Band programs. Distributed more than 46,824 to schools across the U.S. Supported more than 26 inner city public school districts' music programs.

Target demographics: K-12 public school students via music education

Direct beneficiaries per year: 135,000 students and 1,200 teachers make music a dynamic part of the school day

Geographic areas served: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington DC

Programs: We won’t rest until every public school student has the opportunity to unlock his or her inner music-maker. Little Kids Rock has worked hard to ensure access to engaging, relevant, Modern Band music classes and brand new instruments for more than 300,000 under-served schoolchildren across the U.S., at no cost to the students, teachers, or school districts. Little Kids Rock trains public school teachers, donates all of the instruments, resources and support they need to ensure that their kids receive the right to rock! What makes Little Kids Rock's Modern Band program different is that they do more than just donate instruments like guitars, drums and keyboards; they build lasting music programs that focus on teaching kids to perform, improvise and compose the popular music genres that kids already know and love, like rock, pop, hip-hop, reggae and R&B.

Community Stories

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 desiree-fowler

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started working with Little Kids Rock in 2004 where they presented their vision, gave our school free guitars and curriculum and gave myself a weekend's worth of Professional Development. I was a part of LKR's first LA chapter and have utilized all that LKR has to offer ever since. I truly believe they are one of, if not the best resource for Music Educators, even if you are a General Ed teacher interested in giving kids a music class. This Non-profit is devoted to constantly growing not only to reach as many students as possible, but also to best meet the teacher's needs- which is the absolute best way to impact our students. LKR brings instant success into children's lives so that they have access to things like: creativity, expression, sense of belonging & worth, fun, learning, connections & relationships... I could go on forever. I have a student who started LKR with me when he was in 6th grade and this year he will graduate High School this year. He has had some of the best experiences of his life by means of what LKR has done for my music programs. He is only one example of students that have told me similar stories. Little Kids Rock, rocks!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I walked into Little Kids Rock looking for a part-time internship. What I found was a full-time career filled with passion, one-of-a-kind experience, inspiring people and most of all, the opportunity to change lives. Little Kids Rock provides teachers with the tools and materials to transform children's lives, while also transforming their own. For many children, music is so important because it unleashes their trapped creative sides, keeps them focused and in school, and/or builds their confidence, work ethic and communication abilities. I go to work every day inspired and leave work every day even more inspired. I cannot imagine finding a organization that is as fulfilling, fun and fast-paced as Little Kids Rock. Keep on Rockin! I walked into Little Kids Rock looking for a part-time internship. What I found was a full-time career filled with passion, one-of-a-kind experience, inspiring people and most of all, the opportunity to change lives. Little Kids Rock provides teachers with the tools and materials to transform children's lives, while also transforming their own. For many children, music is so important because it unleashes their trapped creative sides, keeps them focused and in school, and/or builds their confidence, work ethic and communication abilities. I go to work every day inspired and leave work every day even more inspired. I cannot imagine finding a organization that is as fulfilling, fun and fast-paced as Little Kids Rock. Keep on Rockin!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became involved with LKR after reading about them in Time Magazine. I had just finished a 2 year stint as a high school music teacher during which I rebuilt a program in a manner that ended up being very similar to the movie School of Rock. I sent an email to Dave, the Founder, he called me and I was immediately in love with the concept. I loved it partially as a musician, but mostly because of what I had observed teaching in a private school. Most people, I believe, have the perception that children who attend private school have an advantage in the quality of instruction in math and the sciences. In my experience, reality is the opposite. What kids get in private school is exposure to what is first to be cut in public school; the arts. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I weren't able to play guitar. That music is considered expendable when compared to math or science is a real disservice to kids and our society, and I say this as a technical professional. LKR seemed to be on target with its message and truly differentiated in its approach. It's fairly easy to collect instruments and deposit them at schools. That hardly begins to deliver a valuable experience for kids. LKR is built around a unique and complete pedagogical program that embraces teacher as well as student, and sets everyone up for success. That was in 2003 and I've been involved ever since. During the past 7 years I've mainly focused on fund raising via local events and individual donors. The donation from YEF is my crowning achievement to date. A real testament to the effectiveness of LKR came when YEF increased its commitment the next year. I plan to spend the rest of my days doing whatever I can to spread the love and value of a musical education through LKR.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I ran the NJ Marathon to help raise money for LKR. I ended up raising over $1,100, which is enough to support supplies for 2 classes. I can't express how happy I am to even make a difference in these kids lives. I hope they make something of their music experience at such a young age. I did not have that opportunity as a child, so I understand how important it is. The LKR staff was great and supportive through out my how fund raising experience. They even invited me in their Headquarters to meet the team. I look forward to running more marathons in effort to help LKR and their goal.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’ve worked with (and have tried to work with) numerous non-profit organizations during the past ten years and I’m often disappointed to see how poorly run and ineffective many are. Perhaps that is because I’ve worked with nso many venture-funded technology-start ups over the years and I’m used to seeing clear vision, focus, accelerated growth, disciplined planning and execution. BUT -- from the very beginning I saw that LKR has had, and continues to demonstrate these key ingredients for success - much more so than many of the tech companies I've consulted to! From the first day I met Dave Wish, Little Kids Rock founder and Executive Director, I was amazed at his vision, charisma and dedication to bringing music education to kids who need it the most. Now, seven years later, I’m even more impressed with Dave and his team’s ability to execute on this very huge vision. Starting with guitar lessons and a few instruments in one classroom for a handful of kids to becoming one of the largest “full-service” music education programs in the country -- providing an amazing curriculum, training for the teachers and free instruments for nearly 100,000 kids to date – how incredible is that! And the stories that pour in from teachers, parents and these kids about how this program and music has transformed their lives is ultimately the inspiration that keeps me and the rest of the team and volunteers motivated to do as much as we can to continue accelerating the growth of this organization. Some of my other favorite things about Little Kids Rock are that it is a “Modern Band” curriculum, teaching music like rock, hip hop, rap, blues… the music kids love. It really engages the kids and the teaching methods get them playing from day one. We’ve also seen how complimentary this curriculum is to other traditional music programs such as Jazz Band, Marching Band, Chorus and Orchestra - when those programs still exist in the schools - which is more and more rare. I also love that the kids learn how to improvise, compose and create original work. The program has been heavily geared so far towards low-income school districts where kids would not otherwise receive music education if they don’t get it at school – this is so important as I truly believe (and there is a lot of evidence to support) that inspiring children to express themselves through music, they build confidence and self-esteem that is critical to success in school and beyond.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Four or five years ago my principal sent me an email telling about Little Kids Rock offering a weekend seminar for people wishing to teach guitar to students. I signed up and was wowed by the enthusiasm of Dave Wish and his crew. He managed to teach us as he expected us to teach the class and made 10 hours of staff development the most fun I've ever had on a weekend school-related activity. With the 10 guitars I received from LKR, I went about spreading the love of music to students in my school. We did not have a music teacher and I was their exposure to music at school. What a grand time we had. The kids came for an hour every week on Friday afternoon and learned guitar, wrote songs, sang, and generally had a grand time. I watched these kids blossom during the year both musically and academically. Every year I have taught the LKR curriculum, the majority of the kids in the group have been on the Honor Roll and/or have scored proficient on the state test. Coincidence? I think not. The perseverance needed to master an instrument enabled them to persevere at their studies. The kids are motivated and seek outside learning opportunities to perfect their instrument playing. Kids otherwise unmotivated wrote songs and won awards. They mustered the self-confidence to perform outside of our school at several community functions. I am excited to imagine what great things lay in store for them as they go on to high school and beyond. I believe that the Little Kids Rock organization has set them on the right path. In addition, the staff themselves are accomodating, supportive and available to those who need their assistance. I cannot say enough positive things about this organization! Rock on!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined Little Kids Rock after a long career in industry as a business executive and consultant. In 2001 I decided to retire, and pursue a career in teaching that I always desired. I was hired as a Science teacher by the Orange School district in New Jersey, and began to teach Science to 7th and 8th grade students at the middle school. I had played guitar since childhood, and had been thinking about teaching guitar to my science students but knew that they didn’t have the resources. Then, I saw a photo and article in my local newspaper about a young man named David Wish who had begun a program called Little Kids Rock, designed to teach inner city students how to play the guitar and compose their own music. We made contact, and I have been a part of this wonderful program each school year ever since. Through these years I have seen my students grow through the beginning struggles of initial learning, to the joy of musical exploration and mastery. They have overcome shyness and played in concert. They have had the opportunity to meet and play for professional entertainers. They have put words to their own music, and recorded these original compositions,and won awards for them. They have increased their self confidence with every success they have achieved. See example on Youtube at this site: www.youtube.com/user/OrangeRockers#p/a As for myself, I have gained much from my association with these kids who number over sixty since I started. And also from the visionary, David Wish, who gave me the opportunity to see this wonderful organization succeed and grow, supported by the dedicated people who make up the Little Kids Rock staff, and teachers across the country who are all totally committed to bringing instruction, composition, and the joy of success through music. I am proud to be among them, but, my greatest joy occurred this year when one of my students corrected me on the way I was strumming my guitar to a popular tune that he had learned. I realized then that I had graduated to the role of advisor, and he the role of teacher.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

Little Kids Rock Inc. is honestly one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life, thus far. I joined this organization during the eighth grade as a student of Orange Middle School. I was insecure and unsure of how Little Kids Rock would change my life. My Instructor was Mr. Alan Christian, who made a new learning experience seem easy, fun, but most of all, involving. Through the organization, I was able to get a guitar to practice with (which I could not afford at that point), dynamic guitar lessons, and a family-oriented learning environment. I am now 21 years old, and thanks to my involvement with Little Kids Rock, I went on to starting my own band and music production group. My musical inspiration was endorsed by a great group of people, and thankfully I am now inspired to do the same. Thank you Little Kids Rock, for the lasting impact on my life! Special thanks to Alan Christian and David Wish!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Where do I even begin,maybe by saying that Little Kids Rock is by far the best place I have ever worked at, and the staff behind LKR are simply amazing and most importantly inspiring. I learned so much from everyone at LKR especially from the founder Dave Wish, who is such a great person. He sets a goal and makes sure that everyone is a part in helping achieve it, as well as being able to celebrate the success that follows. His constant positive energy really made one feel great even on the gloomiest of days, but that does not only go to Dave, but to all LKR staff. LKR is a wonderful place, and an amazing organization that truly is helping change the lives of children through music. I hope that one day the organization is able to go global, because I have plans on starting an LKR program back in my home country.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Kids Rock changes lives. I've been teaching Little Kids Rock guitar for 2 years now. I teach in the inner-city, at a Title I elementary school (low socio-economic status). Students who never stand out in general music classes come alive in rock guitar and can amaze you by creating their own music. I've seen a special needs student, who struggled with making friends because of his looks and behaviors, play "Smoke on the Water" and gain respect of his peers and make friends cross grade levels in the class. I've seen a dislexic place two years in a row in the song writing contest. I've seen timid students crack out of their shells when the group has been asked to play for the city counsel or at Fair Park. I've seen a student diagnosed with short term memory loss and other learning issues, rock the drums, bass, and electric guitar and gain groupies in the process. All of my students in Little Kids Rock, including my special needs students, passed their State required standardized tests this year. The program teaches more than the skill of playing guitar, but also: self-respect, self-worth, responsibility, teamwork, loyalty, perserverance... Little Kids Rock makes a difference!

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Little Kids Rock has empowered my students to explore their creativity, self expression, and passion for music. The pedagogy insures confidence building and a fundamental comfort with the instruments students choose to play. I had always dreamed of starting a guitar class but didn't have the resources. When I met Dave Wish not only was I able to start the class but now we have a successful program where kids can play a variety of instruments, explore the music that they know and love, write their own music, and, most importantly, perform for their peers and community. Our students have made connections with business leaders, mayors, and rock stars, and they know that there is an amazing world available to them that they have entered because of Little Kids rock.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Kids Rock has changed my entire role as a teacher. I get to spend my entire teaching time working at two different schools teaching guitar classes to grades 6-12! The successes everyday I have seen with my students are something that will stay with me forever!

9

Donor

Rating: 5

Can you imagine a world where Music Education's funding gets smaller and smaller every year? Welcome to the world we live in. This is where Little Kids Rock comes in. Little Kids Rock supplements schools budget for instruments and provides valuable materials to music teacher to help keep their curriculum fresh and interesting. We are a group of guitarists and musicians in the Baltimore Metro area. We looked long and hard for a group charity. All signs took us to Little Kids Rock. Read some of the touching stories, watch the kids in their videos and see the pride and confidence they extrude. There's no better musical charity for our money. Help them out so they can reach more cities. The Baltimore Guitarist Group loves Little Kids Rock!!!

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

During my tenure with the Hot Topic Foundation Board, I have had the opportunity to interact with Little Kids Rock on numerous occasions. Our Board has granted funds to Little Kids Rock since 2005 and partnered with them on numerous initiatives and events. The enthusiasm from the LKR team is contagious and inspiring. They are also one of the most organized, planful and stategic-thinking organizations I have worked with. Little Kids Rock supports a terrific cause and goes about supporting this cause "smartly".