COUNTING KIDS IN…
CreativeBridge Coalition (CBC) began as a retirement project for us (Bill & Dan) – something that we could do together while living in time zones four hours apart. CBC would, of course, be a formal, legal corporation and 501(c)(3) organization and all the rest, but initially, at least, it would also represent a sort of personal or “boutique” effort of ours to create and grow a viable non-profit organization. We’d have some fun and stay busy while trying to do something good and meaningful for kids.
Along the way we had much to learn (no surprise), from refining the CBC mission, vision and long-range plans to discovering and coping with everything corporate, from insurance and reporting requirements to legal and accounting expectations. It took us more than a year at CBC to get ourselves organized enough to begin actually serving kids.
At some point, we decided to call our music-based project Count Me In – an image that we see as combining the “count” that begins a musical piece with the notion that all kids, regardless of age or ability, deserve an opportunity to engage in music-based activities. Our Count Me In projects are goal-driven and formally evaluated to determine their efficacy.
Over time, we connected with Hired Gun Writing – the organization that plays a major role in helping us secure funding for our projects – and LGM Research, the organization that does our external data analyses for our evaluation reports. Most importantly, we partnered with Linda Wellendorf – a volunteer worker and friend from the Mahoning Valley area in Ohio who has proven to be an invaluable colleague and significant source of our growing success in northeast Ohio. Factor in folks from around the country who serve (and have served) as members of our Advisory Board, an amazing digital design wizard from southern California, a growing number of financially supportive national and regional foundations and businesses, a helpful PR firm, and an expanding list of very generous friends and acquaintances and you end up with CBC circa 2014!
Since our first projects launched in the fall of 2010, our Count Me In efforts have bridged music and education for more than 250 young children and those with special needs. That may not seem like a large number to some, but considering that we offer 45-60 minute music-based engagements twice weekly throughout the school year at no cost to the kids (said differently, we find the funding to pay for everything), that seems to us, at least, like a pretty huge accomplishment!
Along the way, we’ve met a plethora of fine folks who work with these kids, as well as many of the kids, themselves, and a number of their parents. Too, we’ve been fortunate to have instructors working for us who care deeply about these kids as well as what Count Me In can help them to achieve.
After almost five years of seeking funding, preparing evaluation reports, conducting countless meetings, completing never-ending legal and financial forms, holding fundraisers, traveling to project sites, learning to communicate via social media, worrying about budgets and, most importantly, meeting and getting to know all of the people who together help to make CBC actually work, we’re feeling pretty good about having touched the lives of more than 250 children and young people. Turns out that we hadn’t given the profound relevance of ‘counting kids in’ enough deep thought at the outset.