ON ORGANIZATIONAL LETTERHEAD
January 13, 2005
Mr. Robert J. Vickers, Executive Director
The Robert J. Vickers Foundation
P.O. Box 1225
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Dear Mr. Vickers:
Greetings! [The introduction paragraph is purely to connect. . . Either 1) first- or second-generational connections/relationships, 2) geographic connections, and/or 3) field of interest connections AND/OR relationships.]
As you know, teenagers today are looking for ways to express themselves BUT they also need a mentor with a responsible adult to guide their decision-making abilities. Consider this comment:
"Things have never been okay. It never seemed like anybody cared. . .
I just didn’t have anybody to talk to about all the things I was going through."
Luke Woodham, 17, Pearl, MS school shooter; 3 dead, 7 wounded
The youth of today are hurting. Severe discontent. Intense isolation. Extreme individualism. Not a sickness itself, but symptoms of a disease called rejection. Teenagers today, like never before, feel discarded, refused, ignored and relegated to self-absorption. Their parents don’t need them, the authorities can’t reach them, and the system can’t retain them.
The teenagers of today are a generation that is slipping through our fingers. Every day, we are losing them to suicide, gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, AIDS, crime, and violence. Consider the following statistics:
• Teenagers (14-17) commit 4,000 murders per year, an increase of 165% since 1985.
• A child runs away from home every 26 seconds.
• Half of all new HIV infections occur in the 13-24 year old age group.
• A student drops out of high school every eight seconds of every school day.
• Heroin use roughly doubled among young people between 1991 and 1995.
• One million teenage girls get pregnant every year.
"Wait a minute," you say, "Boston is different." Is that what you think? The most recent available census data shows that there are 129,122 twelve- to twenty-year-olds in the Boston metropolitan area. According to the 2004 Risk Behavior Study of the area,
• About 15% of all area teenagers, will attempt suicide this year.
• More than 35% of all Boston teenagers, have been offered, sold, or given illegal drugs while on school property in the last year.
• 21,665 Boston girls and 14,154 Boston boys will be sexually abused by age 16.
• More than 13% of all teenagers in our metropolitan area have driven after drinking.
• Approximately 20% of all Boston area youth say that they are severely depressed.
• About 50% of the youth in our city live at or below the poverty line for the nation.
In a recent Newsweek article, General Colin Powell was quoted, "The problem of troubled youth is the biggest threat to the future of the United States. The amazing thing about this problem is that we know what the solution is… a relationship with a caring adult: a teacher, a mentor, a coach, a parent."
Hope is Coming International was created to meet this problem and deal with this issue. We are a safe, exciting teen club, supervised by caring, trained staff empowering youth to express themselves through musical expression. We go into the youth society, using their language, providing a culturally relevant environment to build relationships of trust with caring adults-something many of them have never experienced. It is a place where they want to be and where they are wanted.
Hope is Coming International becomes the place they forsake their survival tactics, drop their guards and find empathy, friendship and guidance. We are desperately needed. Today. Right here in Boston, Massachusetts.
We have created a plan called "TuneJam" that will reach the youth of the Boston metropolitan area and the youth of America in a new way. Before you can begin to grasp the simple concept of this new word, TuneJam, and fully understand what it is and how it plays an important role in the growth and development of our nation’s youth, we believe it is essential to experience a paradigm shift about funding proposals in general, and this organization and its mission in particular.
Hope is Coming International, unlike numerous 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations, is not focused solely on the grant-seeking process and the search for money. Rather, we see funding of our programs as a by-product of first building strong relationships with our donors. The mission of Hope is Coming International is to help nurture healthy relationships between youth, youth at-risk, and their families through the use of innovative musical arts programs that serve to help boys and girls realize their creative potential, learn new skills and gain self-esteem.
We not only believe that our programs work, we know they do. Our data and years of experience bear this out. Our programs have changed hundreds of lives! What you are about to read is an outline for an exciting new national program that will help benefit hundreds of thousands of boys and girls every day of the week. Our concept is exciting, our proposal is groundbreaking, and our new programmatic model falls totally within the parameters of our mission statement.
There is no more effective way to impact your society with your charitable giving than contributing to this much-needed outreach, and no better time to give sacrificially than at this opportune moment. You can join us by helping to reach our goal of $250,000 dollars to launch this program immediately.
Margaret Meade, a famous anthropologist, declared, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed [people] can change the world: Indeed it is the only thing that ever does." Our staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors are committed to changing the face of society through effective outreach to our nation’s promising but disenfranchised youth. We hope you share our excitement about what can be done to reach them!
If you need additional information or if I can provide other materials, please call me at (660) 747-6390. Thank you for partnering with us as we launch this vision. Please don’t delay. We need your response as soon as possible. Please accept my sincere "thanks" for your leadership on funding children and youth issues in our community and your willingness to consider supporting our innovative approach to addressing youth problems in our culture. I hope you share my excitement about the potential for our plan to have a significant impact on the children, families, and communities of America. I am excited about establishing a partnership that will bear much fruit!
Matt Hodkins, Founder and Chairman
Hope is Coming International
Hope is Coming International
TuneJam Summary Page
Mission and Vision Statement:
Hope is Coming International exists to create culturally relevant environments that foster vital relationships between disenfranchised adolescents and adult mentors to meet physical, social, and spiritual needs. These relationships enable isolated, neglected, and abandoned youth to successfully navigate the turbulent time of adolescence. Our ultimate goal is to encourage emotional, social, and spiritual growth in "disenfranchised" adolescents-those on the fringes of youth culture, who are outcast and lonely, and who lack significant connections with healthy, caring adults.
Project "TuneJam" Statement:
"TuneJam" will. . .
We are requesting that you partner with us to fund start-up expenses in order that we may reach children and youth within the metropolitan area with quality teaching and coaching. In particular, we would like you to help with initial start-up costs to expand our programming and provide funds to support our general operating budget. The dynamics of our mission are:
• To provide quality service and resources to help coach, encourage, and equip children and youth.
• To increase the return on dollars invested towards building healthy children and youth in our area.
• To increase the number of men, women, and families reached with desperately needed help.
The most recent census data available estimates that there are 129,122 twelve- to twenty-year-olds in the Boston metropolitan area. Our target market is made up of these teenagers who are lacking vital connections with adults. We believe the vast majority of teens fall into this category.
Hope is Coming International is a 501 (c)(3), nonprofit organization founded in 1999 and incorporated in the State of Massachusetts. We are governed by a Board of Directors consisting of twelve individuals (See Board Page on Page 8). Also see attached IRS Determination Letter.
Mr. Matt Hodkins, Founder and Chairman (660) 747-6390, voice
Hope is Coming International (660) 999-3333, cell
P.O. Box 1225 Matt@hopeiscoming.com
Boston, MA 11111 www.hopeiscoming.com
Financial Request and Purpose:
We are at a crucial time in the development of Hope is Coming International as we believe "TuneJam" is the key to help hundreds of thousands of youth in our metropolitan area as well as millions of teenagers throughout the United States. The need for safe, exciting recreation alternatives for teenagers in a setting that will develop vital relationships with them is urgent. We are respectfully requesting a grant of $250,000 (or any portion thereof) as part of this fundraising initiative. See TuneJam Budget on Page 6.
TOTAL AMOUNT REQUESTED: $ 250,000
Evaluation and Accountability:
The progress and effectiveness of Hope is Coming International will be determined by ongoing analysis and oversight of staff, management, and Board of Directors. Because we are committed to integrity, we are willing to complete any reasonable evaluative measure that you request.
Hope is Coming International
One of the greatest challenges facing our country today is addressing the need of America’s youth by helping them to relate: to one another, with their teachers, to the material they are required to learn. Los Angeles teacher Jeff Andrade, interviewed recently on National Public Radio, talked about the effort to reach and teach the nation’s youth in today’s complex society. "Kids don’t like school. I’ll tell you flat out, they think school is boring. I think a lot of that is because of the things that kids have access to that are way more engaging than what we’re offering them in schools." Andrade went on to say that, "television, DVD, computers and the internet are much more engaging than the way we have been teaching kids."
Indeed. How do you reach out to our nation’s youth in order to teach them?
One Education Consultant says, "It’s just amazing to me how many classrooms have approximately 30 kids lined up in straight rows with an adult talking at them in the front of the room. What we’re seeing in most of our classrooms is that the cutting edge of technology is the blackboard." It is startling to know that an increasing number of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods fall into the category of non-college-educated workers. "They leave school," says Department of Education economist Nabeel Alsalam, "because they aren't getting much out of it."
Clearly stated, the United States’ public educational system was not designed to prepare youth for a rapidly changing, highly technological society. It was created for a simpler agricultural era when schools adjourned in the summer so the kids could help with the harvest. While the concepts have changed, the basic methodology of teaching boys and girls has stayed the same for more than 100 years.
Hope is Coming International believes the key to helping our nation’s young people become successful students, and, ultimately, better citizens, lies in developing a new approach that will aid teachers in reaching the youth so they can successfully teach the youth. Many young school teachers across the country grew up listening to Hip Hop music. They think the popular beats and lyrics are a good way to teach the other three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic.
Rhymes with contemporary images and language might raise an eyebrow among traditionalists, but a large number of educators say it is an effective learning tool. Marcus Davis, age 9, recently told an interviewer that Hip Hop beats are a fun way to learn about reading and arithmetic. "It massages my mind. When I hear music and I hear the beat, it’s like I just start thinking about my ABC’s and stuff." Marcus also likes to say his times table to a Hip Hop beat.
Teachers say Hip Hop is a passion that they share with their students. Poetry is Hip Hop and it is also a worthy subject of literature. English teacher Jeff Andrade says, "it is intellectually provocative enough to get young people excited about the curriculum they would otherwise reject. Simply put, there is an instantaneous connection between children of all ages and music.
Our Strategic Response:
It’s one thing to use Hip Hop for learning–but, by adding the creative elements of composition and self-expression, we have taken 21st century education to a whole new dimension. The solution is TuneJam. TuneJam combines music, technology and learning into an easy to use program. It was created exclusively as an aid for teachers in elementary, middle and high school. TuneJam is an internet-based interactive music-recording program. The students and their teachers use it in the classroom. Working together, the teacher helps the student through a series of simple on-line steps toward the accomplished goal of making original music with beats and rhythms that students are familiar hearing outside school. TuneJam is designed for students, whether they are musically talented or not. The students and their parents can also use TuneJam at home. TuneJam is on-line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at www.TuneJam.com.
Students and their teachers can access video tutorials that easily help them navigate their way through the simple process of making and creating music to learn by. An online rhyming dictionary is available to assist the class in writing lyrics. Additionally, each student will have their own workspace on line, thereby letting them save their work. Homework assignments can be completed at home and the work saved on line, to be accessed the next day in class.
It takes less than 10 minutes for a student to successfully make and record their very own, original song. But, TuneJam is not just for a music class. Once the students have completed their song, the teacher can use beats as a teaching aid to help the class learn a variety of different subjects, such as: English, Math, Science, History, and Geography. Remember, TuneJam is a teaching aid. It is available for teachers to use in their classrooms anyway they would like in order to help teach their students.
Teachers say that Hip Hop music helps kids learn: "I had many kids who were total non readers who didn’t know any of the phonic sounds but because they caught on to just the rhythm and the melody and they bought into it because they love music and they said, hey this is musical and its fund they didn’t even realize that they were learning phonic sounds." These days math teachers are also using the names of rappers in word problems.
The Next Step:
It became clear to us early on that the success of Reach and Teach was limited only in geographic terms. In other words, in order to participate in the program, boys and girls had to find transportation means to come to the program. Hundreds of children live and go to school in close proximity to our teaching facility in downtown West Boston. Sadly, others do not, and transportation is the number one reason given for not attending the program.
We strongly believe that TuneJam is a program that has applications in schools right across America. Phase 1 began April 24th, 2004. On that day, we began teaching two dozen elementary teachers from the Boston School District in the method of utilizing TuneJam in their classrooms. Combined, these two-dozen teachers reach and teach 250 students in more than half a dozen schools. The teachers will then begin utilizing TuneJam in their classes.
Phase 2 begins in September 2005 when TuneJam will be introduced to 50 schools in our county. As the result of a barrage of positive stories in the local and national media, we began receiving requests from Arizona, Missouri, Washington, and California–people and organizations all asking us the same thing: can we expand Reach and Teach to their communities? Once again, transportation has been the single explanation given for not being able to expand the program beyond our current facility.