By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
Media Rhythm Institute (MRI), a Baltimore-based media arts organization, was recently recognized as a finalist for the 2022 Accelerator Awards from The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropic organization focused on investing in music education for young people.
Out of over 100 creative youth development programs across the country, MRI was chosen as the eighth finalist. Although the organization did not win the grand prize, it was bestowed the Catalyst Award, which provides $25,000 to leaders and programs with impressive impact and reach.
“We focus so heavily on doing the work, and we rarely market or publicize ourselves for the work that we do,” said Deverick Murray, director of programming and co-founder of MRI. “We try to be more focused on actually making changes. This was one of the first times where we actually sat down and had to think about the impact we had on people.”
MRI, which was established in 2017, is a collective of youth enrichment programs that use media and art skills to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); enhance academic achievement; and develop future entrepreneurs.
Its two flagship programs are Channel Me Media, which teaches youth about visual art and journalism, and iRead iRhyme, which teaches youth about music composition and recording.
The organization works to foster socially- and emotionally-healthy young people and develop them into the next generation of entertainment industry professionals.
MRI applied for the 2022 Accelerator Awards during the summer and was notified during the fall that it was a finalist. During the application process, The Lewis Prize for Music held a virtual visit with the stakeholders of MRI in which families, students and staff could share how the organization has influenced them.
“We’re serving about 1500 students a year that 1500 students is averaging probably upwards of 60 hours of performance arts training and workforce development,” said Murray. “We’re hiring on average, per year 12 to 15 teaching artists, so the impact the reach is happening.”
MRI currently offers its programming through after-school activities and at libraries and recreation centers. The funds from the Catalyst Award will be used to help MRI open a brick-and-mortar store on N. Howard Street so that more students can participate in its programs.
The new space is set to open this spring, and MRI intends for it to become the working grounds for creative entrepreneurs in Baltimore.
According to Murray, while young people tend to be the driving force behind what’s trending in the entertainment industry, they rarely reap any of the economic benefits.
“We want them to not only be consumers of the content but creators of the content and use that to set an economic foundation for themselves and for their family,” said Murray.
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