February 26, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

“Dream Big” Fundraiser Gala In Santa Monica To Benefit At-Risk, Foster Youth:

By Peter Barent Lewis

It started with a pair of sticks.

At nine years old Dana Hammond, growing up in Inglewood, could barely pay for the bus to go to school. His mother was a functional addict, and he wound up in the foster care system. Then his gift as a drummer was noticed and he was playing in church before a thousand people. He was paid a hundred dollars a week.

“I had this talent, and used the money to help provide for my family, catch the bus to school,” Hammond said. “Having to be an adult at a very young age, that hardship at home, built my character. And music taught me to open a bank account and learn about business. Without the music, I would have been a statistic.”

Opportunities opened up for the young prodigy: a trip with his gospel choir to New York, and then, at age 15, to Oslo, Norway, to be part of a workshop on Christian music.

He realized he had an opportunity to grow beyond the struggles of his community, and make something of himself.

He next learned to play piano from “a jazz pianist who was amazing.”

“I still remember the song that he taught me, which was Stella By Starlight,” Hammond said.

And he kept going, onto a professional career playing for various TV shows, and working with well-known musical artists such as Jessica Simpson, Trey Songz, the boy band Mindless Behavior, and Mary Mary.

Realizing his own good fortune was the result of talent meeting opportunity, something very rare for most kids like him, Hammond’s idea for Choice Group Inc. was born.

“I was able to put my life into a business model: a music and arts education program to help kids make better life choices,” Hammond said.

First through Capacity Build LA, and then learning management through Annenberg Foundation’s Alchemy+program, he developed the tools to bring his ideas to life.

A five-week pilot program was then begun with the help of The West Angeles Community Development Corporation. Classes are now held in a recreation hall in an underserved housing complex in Baldwin Village, and also at the Willows Community School in Culver City. Four programs are now offered, once a week: Music Production, Game Design, Percussion, and 2-D Design.

The program’s reputation has grown in stature in just the six years of its current existence, and plans are underway to expand to the West Side.

The New Roads School in Santa Monica is one of many schools considering implementation of the program for either after school enrichment or as part of the regular school day curriculum. The independent westside schools would actually pay for these high-end programs, with a portion benefiting the free programs already in place for at risk and foster youth.

With an eye to expand the programs beyond their current once-a-week format, and to include more kids and resources, the fundraiser taking place at Santa Monica’s Annenberg Community Beach House offers an opportunity to push the program above and beyond its current model.

“Dream Big,” subtitled, “Raise More, To Do More,” is the second annual fundraising event for Choice Group Inc., with a goal of $50,000, and a longer range goal for a $10 million dollar endowment, and a new school facility specifically built for the program.

The guest list of supporters for “Dream Big” boasts heavy hitters from music and entertainment: Mary Mary, Emmy-Nominated “Tonight Show” Music Director Rickey Minor (who will receive the 2013 Choice Group Impact Award), and LA Lakers great and business developer Magic Johnson.

Also on the guest list: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and real estate developer and child and healthcare advocate Rick Caruso. They come, because they believe in Hammond’s vision.

Highlighting that success, musical performances and art exhibitions, created during the 16-week program, will be showcased by the students, including a performance of the song, “Dream Big.”

The song itself was created with the help of songwriter Joi Starr (collaborator with Kayne West, Chris Brown and Brandi, among others).

Hammond and Choice Group Inc. hope that everyone can share and expand the dream, and the public is invited to attend Dream Big, which will be held at The Annenberg Community Beach House at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica on Oct. 24, 2013, beginning at 6:30 pm. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

To support the event or purchase tickets, visit http://bit.ly/1apQEiZ or, for more information about Choice Group Inc. and their programs, visit choicegroupinc.org.

in News
Related Posts

Cher Drops Price of Her Seven-Bedroom Malibu Mansion by $10M

February 25, 2024

February 25, 2024

The legendary singer bought the parcel for $2.95 million over 30 years ago By Zach Armstrong Music icon Cher has...

(Video) Baltaire’s DJ Brunch is Ready to Make Your Weekend Fabulous

February 23, 2024

February 23, 2024

Baltaire is America’s Favorite Neighborhood Steakhouse. A Contemporary Restaurant in Brentwood With Classic Genes, Baltaire Is Where to Enjoy Brunch...

During Lean Times for the City, Certain Staff Members Slated to Get Hefty Raises

February 23, 2024

February 23, 2024

Proposed Equity Adjustments Raise Questions Amid Budgetary Concerns The next Santa Monica City Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday,...

Blue Bus Seeks Input on How to Improve Service

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Through Brighter Blue, Big Blue Bus Aims to Develop a Strategic Plan for Implementing System Enhancements Over Five Years Santa...

Amid Delays, House of Pies Sets New Opening Date for Venice Spot

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

For About a Year, the Development’s Construction Has Seemingly Been Inactive By Zach Armstrong House of Pies, a popular L.A....

(Video) Russian River’s Pliny the Younger 2024 at Father’s Office in Culver City

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Russian River’s Pliny the Younger 2024  at Father’s Office in Culver City. The ticket got you two pours of the...

Culinary Bliss Awaits: Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival Debuts in Santa Monica

February 21, 2024

February 21, 2024

Santa Monica Pier Welcomes the Inaugural Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival Santa Monica is set to become the birthplace...

Indulge Your Cookie Cravings and Support Local Scouts: Girl Scout Cookie® Sales Now Open

February 21, 2024

February 21, 2024

Multiple Ways to Purchase Iconic Cookies and Make a Difference You can satisfy your Girl Scout Cookie® cravings this season...

Popular Coffee & Tea Franchise Opens Another Santa Monica Spot

February 21, 2024

February 21, 2024

The News Comes Four Months After the Announcement of Its Third Santa Monica Outpost By Zach Armstrong Coffee Bean &...

Bruce Lurie Gallery Unveils “Give Us Our Flowers” Exhibition

February 21, 2024

February 21, 2024

Philoche’s painting style incorporates vintage subjects to convey a tribute to the resilience of human spirit.  Bruce Lurie Gallery presents...

Portraiture Masterclass with Renowned Photographer Coming to Venice Beach

February 21, 2024

February 21, 2024

Participants will explore the boardwalk alongside Alan, honing their creativity and engaging with the local community. Renowned photographer Alan Shapiro...

“Women in Jazz” Event at the Moss Theater to Benefit College Scholarship Program

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The Scholarship Trains Students to be Ambassadors for Antiracist Learning and Teaching Los Angeles-based jazz vocalist Amber Weekes, an alumna...

Countdown to the 30th Annual SAG Awards: Celebrating Excellence in Film and TV

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

SAG Awards Ceremony Set for Feb. 24, 2024, to be Globally Streamed on Netflix The anticipation for the 30th Annual...

“20’s/20s” Exhibit at ARCANE to Showcase Emerging Artists’ Work

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The Featured Artists Were All in Their Twenties During the 2020s ARCANE Space is set to host an exhibition showcasing...

(Video) If Not Now Los Angeles Protest at Vice President Kamala Harris’ Home in Brentwood

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024

The group held a Shiva or Jewish mourning ceremony as a protest. @smmirrornews If Not Now Los Angeles Protest at...