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MBA - Music Battery Ambassadors

Row 1 (l-r): Scott Watson, Ravi Sanyal, Barbara Kelley Duncan, Suzanne Hardie, Tim Macon
Row 2 (l-r): Adam Witty, John Tecklenburg, Alec Taylor

The Music Battery Ambassadors (MBA) chose the Music Battery as our project. The Music Battery is a FREE after-school program operating Monday-Friday from 4-7pm at the Ferndale Community Center in North Charleston, SC. The program begins with tutoring in an effort to complete each student's homework assignments from school.  Upon completion, students migrate to the practice room where they warm up with calisthenics and marching drills. The Music Battery is a place that the kids call their own. They’re proud to be a part of something big, loud and exciting.

The program was in its infancy when we started and they were able to identify some of their pain points.  Our team quickly realized they had immediate short term needs (concert/performance that required support and drums) as well as long term organizational support.  We divided our efforts into two phases with Phase One addressing the short term needs, assisting them with creating interest and advertising for their performance, and Phase Two focused on creating a stable platform for the program to grow.

Our goal while working through this process was to ensure there would be a solid footprint in place to provide for sustainability so we selected an organization that was trying to get established and utilize our assets to assist. We committed not to become an intrusive partner but instead to allow the organization to let us know their needs and for us to examine how we could fit it.

The Founders, Kris Manning and Braeden Kershner, took their dreams and desires to make a difference, and turned them into actions.  At 4 p.m. every day, Music Battery Instructors go over to North Charleston's Morningside Middle School and march students, ages eight to 14, to the Ferndale Community Center. Once they arrive, they get straight down to business for the next three hours. The goal is to keep the kids focused on self-improvement and out of trouble. The plan is to stimulate their mind, body, and spirit as well as instill priorities. School comes first, no exceptions.

We knew going into the project that some of the issues facing the program were financing, advocacy, transportation and exposure.  Our plan during phase Two is to systematically address these issues and provide a mechanism to elevate the Music Battery Platform and provide a method for sustainability.

The case for the Music Battery is simple. The free time after school leaves kids vulnerable to risky behaviors. Afterschool programs provide a safe & skill enriching place for kids to thrive. Music Makes a Difference, improving personal & academic skills and Music training could open the doors to unlimited possibilities.

The hours after school leave our kids open for risky behaviors. Our kids’ mothers are likely employed (75%) and working full time (67%). Their kids need supervision and assistance with school work after school. National data shows adolescents from low income families are already engaged in thefts (>50%), sexual activity (59%), drugs (>35%) and alcohol use (15%). There are few positive, organized, free and accessible programs for these kids when school adjourns.

Research confirms afterschool activities provide a place to:

  • Keep kids in a safe, monitored place: By extending the school day, they keep kids positively engaged and away from trouble.
  • Teach universal lessons: Kids learn the value of practice, time management, perseverance, and the satisfaction of achievement.
  • Build confidence: Success in outside of school activities can translate into more confidence in the classroom and earn esteem amongst peers.
  • Build relationships: Achievement focused activities increase opportunities for strong adult relations, mentoring, and positive peer associations.
  • Build character: Participation helps students develop discipline, commitment, tenacity, control and a healthy respect for authority.

Our Phase one efforts concluded with a very successful performance at the Ferndale Community Center and Leading the Holiday Festival Celebration in North Charleston.  Our Phase Two efforts will build on the progress from Phase One.  We sat down with the organization to list out how we felt we could elevate their platform and we asked them to let us know where they felt they needed help.

Phase Two will officially start after the Holiday break however, we have already started to lay the ground work. Our Phase Two objectives are to facilitate targeted strategic planning effort in Q1 2015, assist and reinforce program’s initiatives, deliver strategic plan document in Q2 2015, and culminate first year of operation with Piccolo Spoleto performance. In keeping with our initial commitment of not becoming an intrusive outside entity that distorts the founder’s vision we created an organizational structure that will ensure the founders continue to drive the bus. We selected one MBA Team member to serve in a liaison role. They will closely work with the founders to ensure they desires are being met and that the course or path we are on continues to align with their vision.

From a proud grandfather:

"My grandson joined the drumline one month ago. He has blossomed with his school work going from a D to a B+ in his studies. He has grown in his ability to follow directions and take personal responsibility. !! WONDERFUL!!”

Yes, the Music Battery has had an exciting start and with the MBA’s help they will many more exciting days to come.