When Beyond the Bars first hit the scene years ago, the nonprofit music program was aimed at youth who were incarcerated in the City of Brotherly Love. But soon after, the creators of the organization saw a need to expand their offerings to more of the population after seeing the effects the music had on participants.
“We would see them grow and find music as their outlet in their passion and be supporting each other and growing as leaders. Just all these beautiful things,” says Matthew Kerr, Co-Executive Director of Beyond the Bars.
The program then expanded four years ago to begin offering community-based music programs for youth who had been impacted by violence.
“If a person was a victim of violence, exposed to violence, faces homelessness or housing insecurity, we look to try to make as many accessible music programs throughout our city for our youth as possible,” says Kerr. “We say that we work to try to interrupt the school to prison pipeline at every phase of the pipeline. Along with a large amount of community partners who are working within the anti-violence or trauma informed community, one of the main ways we work is to try and create musical spaces throughout the city where students learn through songwriting.”
The Lewis Prize will award them $500,000.
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