The George Johnson Teen Unit on 3rd Street received a $15,000 grant from Taco Bell to pursue enrichment opportunities.
Wyatt Bevis, teen unit director, said the grant proposal requested funds to finance the teens’ Keystone community outreach program, college visits and the upcoming recording studio.
Three rooms will be built into the pre-existing teen unit for the studio. The space is currently being used to house an exercise machine, a TV mounted on the wall and a shelving unit.
Each room will be designated for a different purpose. The middle room will hold a mixer board with computers. Rooms on either side will hold various instruments. One will be used for the drums and piano while the other will record vocals, guitar and bass.
The separated rooms will allow members to, “Isolate each one of the instruments to record them separately and then teach the kids to mix each one of those to create a song.”
Derrick Kinsey, BGCC director of operations, owns entertainment studio Gravel Road alongside co-owners Adam Lowe and Slade Bumgardner. Bevis said Kinsey is ready to teach teens how to mix music and walk the staff through the needed computer software.
A majority of the $7,500 dedicated to the studio will go toward needed equipment. Bevis predicted building the three rooms, complete with soundproof walls, would not cost too much.
He said he thinks the studio has the potential to bring more teens into the program.
“We did a survey before I ever wrote the grant. It was to get the teens’ interest on different things we could do,” Bevis said. “Out of 75 teens we surveyed, 95 percent of them chose the recording music industry [related activities]. We have a huge buy-in with this.”
Added Bevis, “A lot of the kids have been telling their friends at school we have this grant for a recording studio. Word is getting around, so I am thinking we are going to have more teens come through.”
The goal is for members to collaborate to create everything from an album to their own radio show. The potential is for students with various music abilities, songwriting talents, an ear for music and an eye for technology to create something larger than themselves. The reality is Internet users will probably be able to catch their live and prerecorded radio show Monday through Friday.
The additional $7,500 received through the Taco Bell grant will fund several college trips and service projects. According to Bevis, the teens enjoy visiting nursing homes and cleaning up the Greenway.
A major outreach project at the end of the summer will merge college visits and service together.
“We are planning a trip to Atlanta for three days to serve at the soup kitchen which serves about 4,000 people a night,” Bevis said. “The next day they are going to tour Georgia Tech and Georgia State.”
Regina Borda, managing director of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, said support is vital to every teenager’s success.
“Today’s teens are tomorrow’s leaders, and they need the support of every community, business and elected official in order to succeed,” Borda said. “We are proud to support The Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, and other like-minded community organizations that empower teens to ‘Live mas’ and graduate from high school.”
Bevis offered his thanks to Taco Bell for their continued support.
“The Taco Bell Foundation for Teen’s generous support makes a meaningful impact on the lives of our local teens,” Bevis said. “It’s because of partnerships like this that we are able to offer the academic, career and mentorship experiences that inspire our teen members to stay committed to earning their high school degree and move onto great things in life.”