The kids of Guitars Over Guns.
The kids of Guitars Over Guns.
Photo by Jason Koerner

Ten Miami Music Charities That'll Make You Feel a Little Better About the World Right Now

No matter how you're feeling about last Tuesday’s election results, we're all in dire need of some positivity to wash off the ick from nearly two years of the ugliest presidential contest in modern American history.

They say all politics is local, and tomorrow, Thursday, November 17, the Miami Foundation will once again give Miami residents a means beyond the ballot box to support causes they feel passionate about on Give Miami Day, a massive one-day fundraising drive which benefits local nonprofits and charities around the city. Last year 17,000 donors raised 7.1 million dollars for 600 local nonprofit organizations, and 2016 is expected to be the most successful year yet.

See? Feeling better already? Sort of?

In addition to gifts from citizen donors, organizations preapproved by the Miami Foundation will be eligible for bonus prizes provided by the Miami Marlins. Bonus gifts include the Jose Fernandez prize, which will award an extra 1,000 dollars to the organization that receives the 16,000th gift of the day, as a tribute to the number donned by the late pitcher.

A complete list of participating nonprofits can be found on the Give Miami Day website. These organizations are eligible for both citizen donations and bonus prizes, but many people use Give Miami Day as an opportunity to support other organizations as well, though it should be noted that only those preapproved by the Miami Foundation will be eligible for the bonus pool. So, for those feeling sad and helpless about the current state of the world, we have compiled this list of local music-oriented nonprofits, some which are eligible for the bonus pool as well as others that may not be well-known but are equally as deserving of your donation on Give Miami Day. Take your frustration and convert it into positivity.

1. American Children's Orchestras for Peace
In choosing a charity to donate to, nonprofits that combat our society’s existing ills are the first to come to mind. These often include charities that help members of our society living in poverty or under the threat of violence. Some people may wonder why the arts should be prioritized, and American Children's Orchestras for Peace is a compelling response. ACOP believes that keeping at-risk and underserved children in the Miami-Dade community occupied with music education can prevent them from becoming statistics of poverty and crime later in life by boosting self-confidence, connecting them with mentors, and increasing parental involvement. ACOP’s efforts have been recognized nationally and were even featured on an NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment. Donate here.

2. Guitars Over Guns
But sometimes orchestra doesn't quite grab 'em. For the rock 'n’ roll and hip-hopheads among you, there's Guitars Over Guns, which aims to connect professional musicians with at-risk youth in our community through after school programs. Some of the programs GOG currently offers include Voices of Tomorrow, a choir program in which kids learn to sing contemporary songs, and the Art of Hip-Hop, which teaches kids about the lyricism and poetry inherent in the music they love and encourages them to use it as a means for self-expression. Donate here.

3. Community Arts and Culture
Best known for hosting Miami’s long-running Afro Roots World Music Festival and its Day at the Beach concert series, Community Arts and Culture has been fulfilling its mission to spread awareness of African culture’s powerful and undeniable influence on Miami’s artistic identity. In 2014, the nonprofit was awarded a $40,000 grant by the Knight Foundation in recognition of its efforts and as encouragement for future projects. Donate here.

4. Olympia Theater
Downtown Miami’s Olympia Theater is a historical and aesthetic gem hidden in the heart of our city. Originally opened in 1926 as a silent-movie theater and Vaudeville house, the venue now hosts community theater, film, and live concert events, including the In the Lobby Lounge Jazz series, taking place every second Wednesday of the month. Throughout its history, the Olympia Theater has hosted artists from Elvis to Etta James to Johnny Cash to Sufjan Stevens. This year, the theater, which has undergone extensive renovations over the past few years, celebrates its 90th anniversary and — while it's not technically a charity — some Give Miami Day TLC is definitely in order. Donate here.

Campers prepare to sing at the camp's final showcase.
Campers prepare to sing at the camp's final showcase.
Photo by Junette Reyes

5. Miami Girls Rock Camp
We all know Miami girls rock, but a little help from the community never hurt anyone. Miami Girls Rock Camp is a weeklong summer program which teaches girls how to play instruments and write songs, all while boosting their self-confidence and surrounding them with badass female musician role models in the process. This past summer, the whirlwind week culminated in a concert at the Fillmore Miami Beach, where the girls hit the stage with the songs they'd crafted during the course of the workshop. Donate here.

6. Autism and Music
People living with autism may experience and interact with the world in unique ways, and music is one way in which we can bridge any existing communication gaps with our friends and loved ones living with autism. According to Autism and Music’s mission statement, “Children with autism can benefit from music interaction by enhancing their motor, social, communicative, cognitive, and sensory skills.” The prevalence of autism continues to rise, and organizations like Autism and Music help to increase our understanding of one another in this community. Donate here.

7. Girls Make Beats
Who Run the World? Girls. It's been a banner decade for women in music, with women ruling the charts since the late aughts with no signs of slowing down. Still, the world of music production continues to be a man’s world. The power of women is stifled and limited when men press the buttons behind the scenes, and Girls Make Beats aims to change that. GMB trains young girls in music production, DJing, and audio engineering. They also host Women in Music mixers, where GMB participants can showcase their acquired skills in front of music-business professionals. Donate here.

8. Buskerfest Miami
Thanks to Buskerfest Miami, there's yet another reason not to move from Miami to New York City. Rent is expensive enough as it is down here, and if Buskerfest meets its goals, the streets of Miami will soon be filled with artists, dancers, and musicians, and you won't have to live in an overpriced shoebox or sit next to creepers on the subway in exchange for a rich cultural experience. Buskerfest teams with other local organizations to execute and promote the festivals and events that make living in Miami so damn fun, and on December 9, the organization will host its fourth-annual Street Performance Festival, which will connect venues and metro stations around the city to host performances from artists all around Miami. Donate here.

9. Mind and Melody
The volunteers at Mind and Melody chapters around Florida use interactive music programs to ease the daily stress of patients living with dementia and other neurological impairments such as Parkinson's or complications from strokes. Volunteers do not need to be trained musicians, as the program is specifically designed to be accessible to any patient. Mind and Melody teaches patients basic elements of music theory before showing them simple songs on color-coded keyboards and guitars, which not only decreases their levels of anxiety and depression but can improve dexterity and speech. Donate here.

10. Subtropics
One of the virtues of Miami’s art and music scene is the impressive variety of styles and genres that inhabit our city. Subtropics is a nonprofit that aims to foster the development of experimental music and sound art in Miami. Its experimental ensemble, Frozen Music, creates pieces in well-known public spaces in Miami, offering new and unique views of the city we call home. The group's inaugural piece, Canal, was viewed by 50,000 people in Miami Beach. Donate here.

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