A for-profit social impact company based in Austin, Texas is changing kids’ lives through music. Care2Rock provides live online music lessons for paid customers in order to donate the same service to kids in foster care.
There are a staggering 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that over 70 percent of all State Penitentiary inmates have spent time in the foster care system. Kids in foster care are statistically at increased risk of engaging in delinquency and crime. As a former juvenile prosecutor, Karyn Scott has seen many of these kids struggling through adolescence. She developed a soft spot for these kids and decided to fight to keep more of them out of juvie. Her strategy? Music.
In her home city of Austin, Texas, Karyn started Kids in a New Groove (KING), a nonprofit that uses volunteer musicians to provide music lessons to children in the foster care system. To date, at least a thousand kids in and around Austin have opted to participate in this program, receiving an instrument of their choosing along with private music lessons from a professional. Not only does each child gain a lifelong hobby; learning an instrument requires practice, providing structure and teaching discipline and self-motivation. Most importantly, it is enjoyable and meaningful. “We don’t want to be the parents forcing our kids into boring music lessons. We’re all driven by the mission of conducting fun lessons with fun teachers who care about what we’re doing,” Karyn said.
After seeing the success that KING had in her area, Karyn felt that it was important, and feasible, to bring music to youth in foster care living outside of Texas. The result was Care2Rock. “I started Care2Rock a couple years ago because I became fascinated with social impact business models,” Karyn said. The new model built upon the foundation provided by KING with a few big changes to accommodate a much broader population.
Care2Rock uses a browser-based web platform to conduct online music lessons using high-end video conferencing technology. Patrons do not need to download any complicated software; they can access everything using their regular computer browser and a webcam, meaning anyone with internet access can benefit from Care2Rock.
Another big change from KING is that Care2Rock compensates teachers. This allows for more musicians to devote more of their time and energy toward a great cause. Using the Care2Rock website, a prospective student can easily choose an instrument and then choose from a menu of background-checked teachers, whose bios and availability are all included. The student can also choose how often to take lessons and sign up for a time that works for them. How cool is that?
If you wish there was something similar out there for those of us blessed with a more traditional upbringing, there’s good news. Perhaps one of the coolest innovations of Care2Rock is that anyone can do it! The income generated by paying customers directly subsidizes free music mentoring to children in foster care.
According to testimonials, the students that have benefited from Karyn’s programs have proved “more likely to excel in school, more likely to see college as an option, and more likely to see that they are important, they are special, and they matter to someone.” In other words, to quote the Care2Rock slogan, “take a lesson, change a life.”