FiveFifty is a company that takes its core values seriously – every member of our team strives to live up to our ideals of “Always Own It”, “Bring It Every Day”, and “Rolling Stone” on a daily basis.
We find inspiration in other entrepreneurial organizations that are similarly committed to their ideals.
Following a recommendation from a friend and client, we discovered Youth On Record, a non-profit doing incredible work in an important area of downtown Denver. We spent the afternoon with their Executive Director, Jami Duffy, learning about the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood and how Youth On Record is making a difference in the community by pursuing their core values; art, social justice, and a love of Denver.
La Alma/Lincoln Park
The neighborhood where Youth On Record is headquartered is one of the oldest in Denver. Today, many of the non-historical structures that once served as low income housing are being torn down and rebuilt as part of an urban redevelopment effort that has expanded the number of residences from 200 to 800.
Lincoln Park, as the area is most commonly known, has dropout and crime rates above both the state and national averages despite its valuable location close to downtown and the popular Santa Fe Drive. As Jami from Youth On Record pointed out, “People without hope do hopeless things.” Until recently, Lincoln Park’s residents had little hope of breaking the cycle.
The goal of Youth on Record has been to bring hope to the young people of the Lincoln Park neighborhood by inspiring them to finish school while gaining marketable skills in the process.
Youth On Record
What started as a non-profit focused on civic service founded by members of Denver-based band, the Flobots, has grown to include a music education service that has inspired over 700 students to increase their high school attendance and grades.
Before taking on her role as Executive Director, Jami worked for international non-profits that worked with disadvantaged youth. She knew that the traditional mindset of non-profits, which might be content to scrape by with donated equipment, wouldn’t work for Youth on Record.
To truly re-engage Denver’s youth, Youth on Record needed to offer music classes taught by professional musicians on top-quality equipment. With an entrepreneurial attitude and grim determination, she fought to get Youth on Record the support it needed.
Now, only a few years old, the organization operates with a budget more than ten times what it started with. Its location in Lincoln Park, which includes a kiva poetry pit and a full studio with a tracking room and isolation booth, is donated by the Denver Housing Authority.
In addition to music production and spoken word, teens can take classes on social solutions through a music-and-arts-appreciation lens.
It isn’t just the teachers that are professional musicians, but the staff as well. For example, the Director of Programs, Tyler Breuer, is a guitarist in the popular Denver-based band, The Knew.
All together, the team at Youth on Record have been able to help hundreds of low-income youth earn credit in high school for attending classes that have simultaneously helped them learn audio recording and musicianship.
Narrowing a team’s values down to the most important few and dedicating resources to the fulfillment of those values can have extraordinary results.
FiveFifty has seen this every day through our own work but we can continue to find inspiration in local organizations like Youth on Record that are working on something so admirable.
Our hats off to Jami Duffy and the team at Youth on Record for all they do. We wish them the best of luck in their mission and strongly encourage anyone reading this to support the great work they do.