What does "Music & Youth Development" sound like? Listen to this.

What does "Music & Youth Development" sound like? Listen to this.

August 11, 2016  |  By Tarik Ward, Director, Music Programs, The ELMA Philanthropies

What does it sound like when youth development gets creative? It sounds like MYDA. The Music and Youth Development Alliance (MYDA), launched in 2013, is a nation-wide coalition of community-based organizations using music and the arts as youth development tools. MYDA is a community of practice that connects young people from around the country and supports youth development professionals.

MYDA organizations are dedicated to using music as a tool to guide young people as they transition into adulthood. MYDA is The Door in New York City, Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor, Michigan, RYSE in Richmond, California, A Place Called Home in Los Angeles, and Renaissance Youth Center in the Bronx, NY.

Music is the hook that gets young people engaged and connected to the other services MYDA organizations provide. From healthcare services – both mental and physical – to job training, school readiness, and legal aid, music is often young people’s entry point for getting the additional support they need. High quality, comprehensive music education allows youth to find their own voice so they can be heard on their terms.

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Through music, a young man who pursues singing can also receive assistance in navigating the U.S. immigration system and finding his first job. Through music, a young woman can realize her dream of being the first in her family to go to college on a music scholarship. Through music, a young man, too shy to speak up in a group, can now perform on stage in front of dozens of fans, or work to repair a divided community through poetry and theater.


This past June, MYDA’s community of educators and young people came together in Ann Arbor, Michigan to continue their creative collaborations and build their bonds. It was an opportunity for educators and young people alike to discuss and shape the future of their partnership and to decide together how they would continue to grow and thrive as a community.

MYDA is helping youth become good people, not just good musicians. Music can be a meaningful guide along the pathway to adulthood. Sometimes, all you need to do is listen and you might hear some youth development happening right next to you.