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Salvation Army Kroc Center and Omaha Conservatory of Music Partner to Give Kids New Opportunities

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Nonprofit organizations that share similar missions can find greater efficiencies and impact more people when they partner, sometimes even reaching new audiences and delivering new services in the process.  That’s what’s happened with the partnership between the Omaha Conservatory of Music and the Salvation Army Kroc Center that’s expanding music education and performance opportunities for youth thanks to agency one lending its expert instructors to students at agency two.  My Metro Magazine story about this collaboration follows.

 

 

Salvation Army Kroc Center and Omaha Conservatory of Music Partner to Give Kids New Opportunities

©by Leo Adam Biga

Originally appeared in Metro Magazine

 

A perfect fit

Last fall a meant-to-be match became reality when the Omaha Conservatory of Music began offering music classes at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in South Omaha. OCM provides top-notch instructors and instruments and the Kroc eager students and first-rate facilities.

OCM’s been looking to do more outreach with underserved populations and the Kroc Center’s been seeking to expand its music offerings. So why not bring the Conservatory’s resources to the Kroc?

“It was kind of a perfect fit because the Salvation Army needed a music piece to offer the community and the Omaha Conservatory of Music had expertise in that.

It made sense,” says Mike Cassling, a Kroc advisory board member who brokered this marriage with OCM board member Betiana Simon. The pair got the two organizations talking and before long a full-fledged program was designed and launched for youth ages 3 to 18. Cassling, CEO of Cequence Health Group, helped fund the program.

“We didn’t have the instructors in house for the music, and music is something the Army loves, so it seemed like it would be a good fit if they could provide instructors and we could provide students,” says Major Catherine Thielke, the Kroc’s officer for program development.

The classes are free to Kroc Center members and $10 for nonmembers.

“Parents are loving the fact this is available to their children and that it’s not breaking their pocket,” says Kroc Center arts and education manager Gina Ponce, who adds that music is a vital part of Hispanic culture and having affordable classes right in heart of the community is a welcome addition.

OCM executive director Ruth Meints says there’s good congruence between the center’s community focus and the conservatory’s mission of building artistic community through education and performance.

Thielke agrees, saying, “The Salvation Army’s mission and purpose here at the Kroc Center is to inspire people to discover their God-given talents and to develop those talents. We saw that the Conservatory was helping kids start very young in finding their giftedness in music.”

Music adds enrichment

“I’m a huge proponent that the arts, which music is a part of, are a wonderful way to increase self-esteem, well-being and self-worth,” says Kroc arts and education coordinator Felicia Webster. “The classes are just perfect to introduce young people to music and to help them feel good about themselves.”

Where the Salvation Army has a long tradition of brass band music, it’s lacked much in the way of woods and strings.

“We’re about finding out what children’s spark is, and that expands much broader than a brass band and into the strings and other types of instruments,” says Thielke. “We’re just very excited to be partnering with the Conservatory and we’re really glad Mike and Betiana saw what benefit this would have to both groups.”

“They’re very visionary people who helped it become a reality,” adds OCM’s Meints.

 

 

 

 

Classes strike a chord and fill gap in music education 

The classes have proven more popular than anyone imagined. Ever since the first round began in early September sessions have filled, new spots have been created and waiting lists have formed.

Meints says there’s been “overwhelming response” and she adds “it’s great to see so many people get involved right away.” She expects enrollment for the next round of classes in January to increase.

In January a new guitar class will complement the brass, cello/bass, percussion, violin/viola, woodwinds and voice beat-boxing classes.

“In the Hispanic community the instruments that are very prominent for mariachi are violin, trumpet and guitar and so that will be a very neat addition,” says Meints.

More classes may be in the offing.

At the conclusion of each six-week class a concert’s held featuring student performers from both organizations. The first concert, on Oct. 27, was packed.

Meints says the individualized instruction offered youth helps them grow faster musically. Some Kroc students are already showing great potential and may be eligible for OCM scholarships, according the Meints, who’s excited about nurturing  this previously untapped talent.

Officials with both organizations say the classes for very young children fill a vital need because music education doesn’t start until middle school. Studies show getting kids started early in music can improve cognitive development and academic performance, says Meints. She and Thielke emphasize that the Sprouts class promotes family interaction by requiring parental-guardian participation.

For details and to register, visit http://www.omahakroc.org or call 402-905-3579.

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