Youth Music Exchange

The Problem

YOUTH MUSIC EXCHANGE An Emergent Solution At the Youth Music Exchange (YME), http://youthmusicexchange.org, when one is in the search for solutions, one could ask: “What would entice children to come to school and strive for success…even if they weren’t required to show up?” The question is not entirely hypothetical; in fact, after-school practitioners wrestle with this conundrum every day. After-school education is founded upon a paradox—that is, learning is mandatory but attendance is not. Interestingly, after-school youth developers have unearthed an emergent solution to the above question in youth media. By engaging children in the creation and production of film, radio, websites, and other media, after-school programs are helping urban youths build innovative pathways to academic and social skills. Our Mission The Youth Music Exchange (YME) is a literacy, technology, and youth development initiative that puts learning into its social contexts in unprecedented ways. YME transforms schools, after-school programs, and community-based organizations into record labels owned and managed by youths. The children write and record the music, develop marketing strategies, design the artwork, create a business plan, and sustain their company by bringing a youth-generated product to the community in which it was created. Founded and directed by Dr. Michael Bitz, an arts educator, and Dr. Bill McKinney, an urban anthropologist, YME puts not only media but also the media network into the hands of children, thereby reinforcing academic learning, social development, and life skills—all of which are necessary for success in the modern world. Objectives YME has five separate but closely related objectives. 1) Academic Reinforcement: Children become better readers, writers, and mathematicians by engaging in an intensive process leading to a youth-generated product. 2) Technological Literacy: Children learn about and harness hardware, software, and web applications in the development of their own companies, which improves their success in school, after school, and in life. 3) Career Pathways: Children develop career skills by gaining experience in business, marketing, and production, as well as participating in internships focused on job readiness. 4) Social and Character Development: Children develop social skills related to conflict resolution, problem solving, and teamwork, along with enhanced concepts of cultural tolerance and personal identity. 5) Community Building: Children positively impact their communities through the distribution of sustainable, youth-generated products and community-based performances. Target Population YME is targeted at the improvement of the lives of underserved youths (ages 9-18) in high-poverty communities of the United States. The geographical base and focus for our first two years is New York City. We plan to expand to other urban areas within the first five years of implementation. For more information, contact Dr. Michael Bitz, Ed.D. at meb53@columbia.edu.

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