At Soul Spin, we create applied studio, leadership, & business management opportunities for promising kids who face environmental barriers to success.
Soul Spin (Youth) is a youth-led music & event production team in Atlanta, GA. Membership is offered free-of-charge to elementary-school kids at select sites in Southwest Atlanta & College Park who meet multiple times each week, throughout the year. Kids in our "Youth DJ Crew" learn how to DJ, as well as take leadership roles in the group, ranging from event coordinator to graphic designer. They then use these skills to plan events around Atlanta in collaboration with our event partners. All of our events are, from start to finish, produced by our youth.
Through membership, our kids not only learn about music & studio arts, but gain practical, hands-on experience with business development, entrepreneurship, project management, accounting & finance, & marketing. They become fluent in teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, communication & self-management, empowering youth to be successful not just creatively, but in the classroom, at home, & in their future careers.
Soul Spin (Youth) is a division of Soul Spin, a music & event production group based in Atlanta, GA.
Practically, here's how our program works: We use DJing & studios arts as a "context" for strategic, personalized, & intensive social/emotional, behavioral, & educational support. We like to think of our studio as the "spoonful of sugar" that makes the medicine go down. The "fun" of the studio is really important in promoting things like behavioral success, but underneath that fun is a heaping dose of high-powered support & intervention that helps give our kids a foundation on which to build success.
We have a small group of kids who meet several times each week throughout the year. During these "office hours" (we try to keep things professional), kids work on projects related DJing, event planning, & their chosen leadership area (e.g., graphic design, A/V production, event coordination). We start and end each day with a team meeting (led by our youth office manager) when we'll coordinate upcoming events. Then, on the weekends (and sometimes during the week), we'll head to event sites where we'll throw parties. We also take other field trips related to music, such as attending other (family-friendly) DJ parties, meeting with featured monthly guest DJs, & touring studios. Periodically, we also do things that most other professionals do like job applications & performance reviews.
Behind the scenes, we've got an assortment of support structures in place to help our kids succeed, from our initial multi-dimensional assessment process to the creation of Individual Support Plans (ISPs) with assessment-linked interventions. Sometimes, we break into program time to formally engage in these strategies (e.g., we may take 10 minutes to do social skills training). Often, though, these support strategies are operating in the background of our program - always present, always on, and made a lot more tolerable and meaningful by our more overt studio program activities.
Soul Spin (Youth) was founded in 2013 but a small group of educators & musicians with over 50 years of combined experience & graduate/doctoral training in psychology, education, music, & youth development.
In early 2014, we piloted our first Youth DJ Group. In Summer 2014, we expanded the pilot to a year-round program, accompanied by a program expansion & strategic collaborations with various Event Partners across Atlanta, from the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.
In early 2016, we added a second site in College Park, working closely with Club E and the College Park Housing Authority to build our second program home.
We are also currently engaging in strategic planning in anticipation of an additional program expansion into our own studio facility in the near future.
We're fans of continuous growth & strategic planning (and are, admittedly, sort of data geeks). As we enter our third year, we've developed a few big picture goals:
Program Refinement. We're proud of what we've built so far, but we're always looking for ways to improve. For example, as we grow and incorporate more kids, we'll need to create new youth leadership roles & corresponding organizational structures. We'll also need to take our current program model to scale, figure out what daily programming will look like in our own studio space, and want to develop a multi-age tiered peer mentoring system.
Event Partner Growth. We've gotten to work with some great organizations over the past few years, and are looking forward to continuing to build those relationships as well as identifying new event partners.
Studio Home. From inception, our goal has been to be neighborhood-based. We are currently engaged in market research & conversation to learn more about where might be the best place to call home on a more permanent basis.