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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

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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!

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!

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.

Board Member

Rating: 4

In spite of the dramatic drop in public funding, this agency forges ahead in its commitment to provide music education and ensemble opportunities to kids who want this option but cannot or choose not to participate in more classically oriented choruses. It boasts a corps of professional, performing artists who teach and mentor participants at school sites. The all-city middle and high-school choruses are vehicles not only for a musical education, but present an opportunity for students from all parts of Oakland to work and learn together. OYC has been around for 35 years and has been credited with providing a life changing experience for thousands of Oakland school children. It could use an infusion of new energy and vision, to bring it current with the needs of children who have limited access to this low-cost program and to cultivate the continuing, active support of chorus parents, chorus alums and the general community. OYC has the potential to make a significant difference - it needs folks to know about it and to care.

Shannon H.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Oakland Youth Chorus has been serving the East Bay Area since 1974 providing music education, performances, and tour opportunities for children and youth ages 5 -24. I joined OYC in 1975 and cannot express how profoundly it has affected my life. I gained choral music education, performance confidence, and, most importantly, lifelong friends with whom I still sing as a member of the OYC Alumni and various other groups. I am now a member of the Advisory Board and have served as the Alumni Association President for over a decade.

The Oakland Youth Chorus provides an incredibly educational and nurturing environment with teachers who are, themselves, professional music and dance performers and many are former OYC members. They provide an inclusive experience for elementary school children who are then able to advance through the Middle School and Concert Chorus levels. Many of the OYC choral students have become music professionals and all profess the value of this experience.

I think that an organization that can evolve over 4+ decades deserves recognition for its continuing success.

OYC rocks.