Successful Inc. is proud to announce a partnership with Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) and the Save The Music Foundation, in order to bring more musical instruments to youth in the Mississippi Delta and Memphis regional communities. To date, the organizations have worked together to provide approximately $250,000 worth of musical equipment to the area, including the Clarksdale Municipal School District, Holly Springs School District, Holmes County Consolidated School District, Leflore County Consolidated School District, Leland Public School District, Mississippi Achievement School District, North Bolivar Consolidated School District, Sunflower County Consolidated School District, and Yazoo County School District in Mississippi, and the Shelby County School District in Tennessee.
The communities of focus serve as the birthplace of much of American music. Black musicians from the area, both past and present, have shaped and defined genres from blues and rock ‘n’ roll to country and soul. But in spite of the region’s musical heritage, youth face declining access to instruments, music instruction, and opportunities for creative expression. Erskin Mitchell, Founder and Executive Director of Successful Inc., developed his program to address that gap
“My mother sacrificed to purchase a Bach Stradivarius trumpet, my first new instrument, because I loved music and wanted to continue playing in the band,” Mitchell says. “I soon knew that band would be my way of going to college and helping me realize my goals in life. I chose to start this nonprofit with few funds but with lots of resolve to put instruments in the hands of aspiring youth, and am proud to be able to work with Memphis Music Initiative and Save The Music to fulfill the mission of the organization. I know firsthand that talent and drive can move mountains and I wanted to be in a position to help our youth move mountains so that they can be successful in life.”
National nonprofit Save the Music, which focuses on equitable music education, also identified this need in the region and partnered with Shelby County Schools to address it. This initial connection led Shelby County Schools to introduce Save The Music to Mr. Mitchell and his organization.
Mr. Ivory Lloyd, band director at Leland High School says, “Working with Successful Inc has changed the dynamic in the classroom. I’m now able to provide musical instruments to those in my network that can not afford it, leading to higher academic and creative performance.”
Meanwhile, Successful Inc. had developed an instrumental new partner in Memphis/Shelby County in MMI. For the past two years, Successful Inc. has been a community partner of MMI’s Grantmaking and Capacity Building (GM&CB) program, which provides financial and operational support for Memphis-area arts organizations serving Black and brown youth. Through support from GM&CB, Successful Inc. has built its capacity within the areas of data collection, program evaluation, and social media, among others. The partnership aligns with the mission of both MMI and Successful Inc.—to provide opportunities for youth to hone their musical abilities and creative expression.
The collective goal of the three organizations is to give burgeoning middle and high school musicians access to instruments to further develop the talents of students, provide access to higher education, and build a rewarding life through creativity. As a national organization, Save The Music is uniquely positioned to amplify this work for broader outreach.
“The students know that ‘when the expectation is great, great things happen, and the work of Successful Inc. embodies this,” says Kimble Funchess, Founder/Owner of Mindfulness Through Music, LLC and former Director of Bands at Yazoo County School District. “The harsh reality is that some band programs in this area are only shells of what they once were in the 1980s up to the 2000s due to budget cuts, lack of resources, and other out-of-school factors that can impede the success of band programs and ultimately success in the classroom. With the leadership of Erskin Mitchell and Successful Inc, students now have direct access to instruments, which in turn breathe life and energy into the community. When you directly invest into young people, it empowers both them and those that surround them.
Successful Inc. is currently seeking donations to continue to expand on its mission. For more information on how to support, visit https://www.successfulinc.org/donate.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS
Successful Inc is a philanthropic organization founded to provide musical instruments to deserving band students and other dedicated community musical organization members while also promoting education and the arts. Building trusted networks consisting of band and music leaders, parents, educators, and other nonprofit organizations is a key element of Successful Inc’s leadership now and as it will continue to be as we move into the future. Learn more at www.successfulinc.org.
Save The Music Foundation
For nearly 25 years, Save The Music has addressed the systemic inequalities in music education by investing in underserved communities across the US – donating school instruments and technology; working as a convener, expert, and catalyst; helping to train and support teachers; and starting and building thousands of new music programs in over 286 school districts nationwide. Learn more at savethemusic.org.
Memphis Music Initiative
Memphis Music Initiative leverages targeted philanthropic investments, programmatic offerings, and strategic capacity building to strengthen youth, community arts, and music engagement activities for primarily Black and Brown youth in communities across Memphis and the Mid-South. Learn more at memphismusicinitiative.org.
Erskin Mitchell, Successful Inc. – [email protected]
Ariel Davis, Save The Music Foundation – [email protected]
Jen Prince, Memphis Music Initiative – [email protected]