Roxbury is a strong, vibrant community known as the most important African-American community in New England. Along with its publicized history of segregation and disenfranchisement it is widely known for cultivating notable people such as Malcolm X and other civil rights leaders. There is a strong sense of community created by civic leaders and religious organizations. With the boom in the innovation district in Boston there is race towards cultivating STEM schools into Boston’s academic landscape. The effort to revive the arts in the schools is trailing behind efforts to increase science and technology courses although the arts can provide a natural and meaningful bridge to the sciences.
In the U.S. and Boston there is also the urgent problem of economic and race-based educational disparities. The quality divide in public education in our cities versus more affluent suburbs is shocking and worthy of finding a dignifying solution. Access to the arts has significant social and educational outcomes for those involved regardless of income. Due to the high costs of excellence we have become accustomed and eager to praise mediocre programming. The disparity of quality in part due to the prohibitive costs of excellence can serve to further entrench economic educational disparities. Therefore, the excellent outcomes of an excellent arts program in the inner city is a robust part of a larger strategy to address economic and race-based educational inequalities. Our program exists to lower the barriers to entry into an excellent arts program while providing our youth a place to belong and giving them tools for self-expression. Studies show that if students from underserved communities are given access to arts education they are more likely to graduate, earn a bachelor’s degree, and are more civically engaged as adults.

Roxbury

We believe that when we place the arts at the intersection of innovation and community we can catalyze social change and propel economic growth in a city. In Boston we’re building a world-class youth orchestra in the ‘hood to develop grit in the lives of urban youth. We are also creating a paradigm shift away from mediocrity and towards excellence through music taught with an emphasis on artistic excellence. For so many young people the arts are their only connection to the American dream and can serve as a bridge to the sciences and so many other pathways out of poverty.

In 2013 we launched the Roxbury Youth Orchestra in one of Boston’s most resilient neighborhoods, Roxbury. Students come up to 5 days a week for 3 hours each day after school and learn 3 of the toughest instruments on the planet: The violin, viola, and the cello; but the main goal is social change. In the last two years we have seen increases in academic performance and self-esteem, the creation of positive peer relationships, and incredible increases in focus and determination. The outcomes for these young people won't be the ones we have written down on paper but will be birthed from the experiences gained over time in an environment that is safe and saturated with the proper tools to succeed.