Collaboration: It’s a Vibe

As the new year begins, we may be thinking about all the things we are letting go of in 2022. New year, new me, right? Despite some of the challenges of 2021, though, there are definitely a few things that I want to see more of. One thing in particular is collaboration, and Music Access Miami definitely had its fair share of incredible collaborative moments. 

Music Access Miami is rooted in the belief that we can achieve and do so much more together than we can alone. Despite there being more than 70 local organizations working toward the common goal of music education for all youth, there is still a great disparity amongst those with and without access to funding and music learning opportunities. What we know, though, is that when mutual respect, trust, and collaborative environments exist- great things can happen. And over the course of 2021, there was a whole lot of collaboration going on in the music access ecosystem. As we look ahead to the new year, we’re looking back at our favorite Music Access Miami collaboration moments. 

1. The Miami Gardens Music Alliance Virtual Field Trip

Picture it- Spring 2021, a weird time across the nation as we grappled with our desire to do in-person activities while balancing community and personal safety. This was certainly true of our Miami Gardens Music Alliance. While we had envisioned a rockin’, in-person Youth Music Festival, safety was paramount. Thus, we pivoted to a completely virtual field trip for the students of Miami Gardens

Our Music Alliance grant partners came together to produce a short, digital field trip with performances from students & mentors, as well as some special guest appearances, complete with delivered Music Access snack boxes to enjoy while watching the show. A great, safe way to show our gratitude for the resilience of each student, teacher, & parent within our Miami Gardens community.

Councilwoman Linda Julien, City of Miami Gardens

2. Music Access Mini Grants

Earlier this summer, we launched our inaugural Music Access Miami Mini Grants. Understanding the challenges smaller, newer organizations often face in receiving funding, we prioritized organizations with annual operating budgets under $250,000 to apply for flexible funds for support capacity building, general operating support, and program support.

The cycle resulted in ten grant recipients working across Miami to make music and music education accessible to families and youth. Additionally, we created an ongoing collaboration with two local partners- Radical Partners, to ensure each grantee will receive professional development opportunities to aid in their continued growth and capacity, and The Education Fund to create a grant cycle for Miami-Dade County music teachers. 

3. Miami Gardens Music Alliance Teaching Artist Orientation

Our first Miami Gardens Music Alliance Orientation brought together every teaching artist and mentor in the Alliance for a Saturday afternoon of learning, connecting, and grounding in the tenants of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Each teaching artist plays a crucial role in ensuring all 4,000+ students in the Carol City feeder pattern have access to high-quality music education. We began with a mindfulness and empathy exercise led by Arts for Learning instructor Stephany Item and were then joined by Hello Insight CEO, Dr. Kim Flores, to make meaning of our Year 1 data from our collaborative data collection. 

4. Miami Gardens Music Alliance Monthly Meetings

Every month, the various leaders of the Miami Gardens Music Alliance come together to brainstorm, vision, and connect. With 7 organizations coming together from across the city and county, our time together is always a highlight and it is the true meaning of collaboration.

5. 2021 Observation Series

At the end of 2021 four incredible nonprofits opened their campus and program doors to our network of 100+ Creative Youth Development music leaders for our  inaugural Music Access Miami Observation series. Through this two-week experience, our goal was to create opportunities for folks to see, experience, and learn from the powerful work happening across Greater Miami in the CYD music sector, foster trust, and motivate collaboration. 
The Observation Series organizations included Motivational Edge in Allapattah, Young Musicians Unite in Miami Gardens, Teeny Violini in Brownsville, and the Mexican American Council in Homestead. We toured campuses, listened to youth rock out, watched the looks of glee as children picked up (teeny) violins, and received a youth-led history of the Mariachi, followed by an amazing performance.

Without a doubt, there are a whole lot of things we are leaving behind in 2021, but collaboration isn‘t one of them. It was THE vibe of the year and we fully intend to take it with us into 2022 and beyond. 

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