Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rock to the Future, a Philly PRoactive Partnership

“There are no walls in music.” -Pierre Robert, disc jockey, 93.3 WMMR.

In 2009, PPRA launched “Philly PRoactive,” a community-based project that assists local non-profits in need of PR assistance by partnering them with members on a volunteer basis. This year, the two non-profits chosen to receive PR guidance in the Philly PRoactive program were Rock to the Future and Girls, Inc.
Guided by Jill Flanagan, M.A., PPRA community service chairperson, the team of volunteers included Meg Boyd, Nina Scimenes, Farra D’orazio, Michelle Kane, Thomas Rogers and Christine Guerrini who worked with Jessica McKay, founding director of Rock to the Future for the past six months on various public relations efforts. 

Rock to the Future, now approaching its second year, is a free, afterschool music education and youth development program for Philadelphia School District students (ages 9-14). The program focuses on the incorporation of music education with academics to create success in school and in life by improving cognitive thinking, learning capacity, socialization skills, self-esteem and creative thinking. The premise is that students will learn an instrument –– and will also receive homework help. The students worked together to write new, original music and attend free educational and musical seminars. The program is 100% free to the participants and relies on the donations and support of the community.
The idea of Rock to the Future was first conceived in 2008 by McKay, a Temple University graduate with a degree in business administration and economics. McKay began her music education at a very early age and knew the positive effects that music education has on academic excellence. She created Rock to the Future to pursue her dream of spreading music education to underprivileged youth.

Together the PPRA volunteers produced a PR plan, news releases, media alerts, brochures, a donor solicitation letter and a media kit. They grew the media contact list, took photos, pitched their plea for coverage and assisted in social media efforts. Highlights of the first year included coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer for the first holiday concert, an educational workshop with Curtis Institute graduates and news coverage on their year-end showcase at the World Café Live.

"As a newbie to the Philadelphia public relations world, I couldn't have had a better entree than helping out a worthy cause like Rock to the Future!" said Thomas Rogers, candidate, Master of Arts in communication, Villanova University.

“Being a former high school band-o, it was a privilege to help Rock to the Future grow and give these kids the opportunity to shine,” said Michelle Kane.

Although assistance was given to Rock to the Future, it was McKay’s foresight, proactive approach and unwavering commitment to Rock to the Future that made her first year a success. On her own, McKay had the students perform in numerous festivals, had articles appear in local journals, held benefits to raise funds with local bands, produced a YouTube video and obtained a 501(c)3 status! It was a learning experience from both sides. Thanks to all those who helped out this year. 

This blog post was written by Meg Boyd. Meg Boyd is currently a communications specialist for Catholic Health East, a $6B geographically dispersed, multi-unit, Catholic healthcare organization that serves ministries in 11 states. Here she delivers effective communications for both internal and external audiences in a wide range of mediums in the corporate office.

She is also a freelance writer for Main Line Today magazine and volunteers for many community organizations including the Women’s Resource Center, Good Works, Inc., and Chemo Clothes. She is chair, communications and marketing for the Villanova University Alumni Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter and is a member of both PRSA and PPRA currently working with the PPRA Proactive Program in assisting Rock to the Future with their public relations efforts.

She earned a M.A., in strategic communication from Villanova University and a B.A., in communication from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio.

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