UC Berkeley Young Musicians Program Becomes Independent Non-profit

Marcus Shelby directs the Jazz Youth Esemble of the Berkeley Young Musicians Program.

Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion.

UC Berkeley and the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra (YMCO), an independent, non-profit organization, have announced that the nonprofit will be taking over the administration and management of the Young Musicians Program. This year’s Summer Institute, which will be shortened in length and limited to orchestra/choral training, will be Young Musicians Program’s last official offering as a UC Berkeley program. In April 2013, some members of the program’s advisory board formed the non-profit to continue the mission of recruiting economically disadvantaged junior high and high school students to participate in a rigorous program providing academic tutoring and musical instruction with an end goal of gaining admission to accredited colleges and universities offering full or partial financial aid. The intent is to maintain a close relationship with the university, and negotiations between the parties are underway for the transfer of assets, ongoing support and a formal Affiliation Agreement. “UC Berkeley has decided that the goal of giving talented low-income youth in our community the opportunity to shine musically and academically would be better served by an independent organization that is small and agile,” said Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion. “As an independent, non-profit entity, YMCO will have greater flexibility in its marketing, fundraising, administrative and educational activities, while also maintaining ties to UC Berkeley,” said Richard J. Olsen, President of the YMCO Board. To support the start-up of the new organization, the university will provide bridge financing to YMCO and annual grants from existing endowments to support ongoing operations, as well as providing access to Hertz Hall for concerts and recitals. YMCO’s goal is to become operational in the fall of 2013 and intends to invite the students currently enrolled in the Young Musicians Program to participate in the non-profit’s programs and activities. Over the last 45 years, the Young Musicians Program has provided high quality tutoring and musical education to low-income and disadvantaged youth. The program was initially founded within UC Berkeley’s Music Department in 1968 as a summer program for youth from Berkeley and surrounding communities. Over time, it has expanded to a year-round program, featuring individual, group, orchestral and choral instruction. Musical instruments and all other aspects of the program were provided at no cost to the students and their families. In the 2012-2013 school year, the program enrolled 92 students ages 10 to 18.
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