Take Stock in Children of Manatee County is making the children benefiting from its services the headliners at its Nov. 16 fundraiser.
Why book event entertainment when you’ve got musicians within your own organization?
Take Stock in Children of Manatee County is taking this approach for its upcoming fundraiser, Defying Gravity, Nov. 16. But what makes this gesture truly special is the musicians aren’t employees — they’re the very individuals benefiting from the organization’s services.
“The Force is a great group formed by our Take Stock scholars — talented, academically outstanding and eager to be engaged in our community and give back,” said Executive Director Jamie Serino in a release.
This eight-student band featuring kids in grades 8-12 was created to express the narrative of Take Stock and its mission through song. Defying Gravity will be the group’s debut performance.
Take Stock’s in-house band has been learning about lyric writing, song arranging and vocal techniques from professional musician Chris Trakas, a metropolitan opera principal artist, to ensure they’re ready for the premiere. Trakas and Nashville recording artist Dylan Taylor will also perform at the event.
The Force will be accompanied by professional jazz orchestra the Tom Kats Express at its Defying Gravity performance. Stacie Cratty, dance teacher at Haile Middle School, is collaborating with the students on choreography.
Asked about the significance of this student group, Serino says it’s part of a push to increase the organization’s impact on the community. Raising awareness about the talent of the program’s participants is one way to encourage people to not only donate to Take Stock but potentially employee these students after they graduate with a post-secondary degree.
He adds that music is an influential tool for students that will help them in their studies and eventually in the job field.
“As a musician, band member and performer, I understand the power of music and that the process of forming a band creates unique collaborative learning opportunities for scholars as they find their place and create together,” he says. “This process also creates bonds between the performers and the Take Stock staff and community partners supporting them. Being in The Force gives the scholars a voice to tell their stories through music, gives them an opportunity to create and learn in a supportive and structured environment and gives them a reason to stay engaged with each other and with Take Stock.”
The students love it, he adds.
“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” says Ishmael Rolle, a member of The Force.
Serino says this event is important because the student performers are the headliners, symbolizing how the scholars are the focus of the program. He hopes guests will take this an an opportunity to connect with students and Take Stock staff, mentors and supporters, and to learn about the launch of the nonprofit's new Workforce Initiative.
The fundraiser benefits Take Stock programming, which starts with a mentor and college scholarship for every child admitted. Every participating student's responsibility is then to maintain academic and behavior standards in order to keep their scholarship by the time they graduate high school.
Defying Gravity guests will enjoy an hors d’oeuvres reception, presentation and program ending with sweet treats and dancing to live music by NexxLevel. To attend, order tickets here.