Waterbury , CT

Contact Name
Calida N. Jones
Project Dates
September 2012-Present
Bravo Waterbury! (Bravo) is an intensive after-school music education program for students at Children’s Community School and Brass City Charter School in Waterbury, Connecticut. Bravo started with 34 students and now hosts close to 200 students in Kindergarten-Fifth grade. This program is an education initiative of The Waterbury Symphony Orchestra. Bravo is inspired by Venezuela’s “music education miracle” known as El Sistema, a program for social change started over 30 years ago by politician and musician Jose Abreu. In collaboration with The Leever Foundation, The Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, and a host of other community partners, Bravo provides free music education, instruments, and mentorship to Waterbury youngsters.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
As an organization, we continue to work towards the following goals daily:

*Provide students with valuable tools to develop self-expression, cooperative learning, teamwork, peer mentoring, academic rigor, confidence and self-esteem.
*Engage students at an early age and support their training by offering them high quality instruction, instruments, and a full range of personal and family enrichment experiences.
*Better serve and deepen the WSO’s reach into its community; broaden partnerships with other community organizations.
*Develop a neighborhood program that will create a sense of community pride.
*Increase parental involvement in all aspects of students’ lives to improve modeling and students’ lifelong success.

Some of our challenges include:
*Financial sustainability moving foward (continued research for grants, donor cultivation)
*Continuity of parental involvement and support of their child's progress
*Consistency with the students; adjusting our expectations when their living situation or parental guardianship is shifted; accommodating their needs and providing the support they need to be successful

Some of the opportunities include:
*Collaborative projects in and outside of Connecticut with programs similar to ours; the opportunity for students to meet other students, and create music alongside them
*College-collaborative opportunities are a big part of Bravo; we recently took our students to the Yale School of Music for a College day. Our students ranged in age from 1st-5th grade. They had the opportunity to tour the Yale campus, and also participated in a concert at Sprague Hall performing alongside High School students. Opportunities such as this one will broaden their idea of a future for them. We are continuing to create experiences similar to this one.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Our goals haven't necessarily changed; We are constantly evolving our goals as needed to accommodate our students and families in Waterbury Connecticut. We work some of Waterbury's most vulnerable children. We evaluate our goals monthly to ensure we are serving our community to the best of our ability.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The Leever Foundation- The Leever Foundation is our initial funder and our primary source of funding. Bravo Waterbury is a vision of the late Ruth-Ann Leever who believed in access of quality music education and social growth. She planted the seed and we work very closely with the Foundation to ensure the success of the program.
Connecticut Community Foundation-They provide visionary community leadership by identifying programs such as Bravo Waterbury and give us the ability financially to write and receive grants in order to keep the program running.
Bridge To Success- A Youth-serving organization in Waterbury that we partnered with in 2012 in order to create a assessment tool to assess effectiveness for our students, parents, and staff at Bravo Waterbury. Students are assessed twice a year and we track both their social and musical growth.
Children's Community School- Our first host site Bravo was implemented with 34 students. Currently we have 70 students enrolled in the program.
Brass City Charter School- Our second host site which began last year and currently has 120 students enrolled.
American Savings Bank- Financial Contributor to the program
Ion Bank- Financial Contributor to the program
Connecticut State Department of Arts Cultivation- Financial Contributor to the program

Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
Bravo is still currently being implemented at both host sites.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
The Bravo Waterbury! team, and financial stakeholders meet to assess our goals and steps at the end of each fiscal year.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
This project is still currently being implemented
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
*Know the needs of the community you are attempting to create a project similar to this; be aware of their needs, resources, and culture demographics
*Consider hiring consultants with individuals who have successfully creating projects similar to the one you'd like to implement
*Have supportive backers both financial and non-financial in order to ensure the success of the project
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
The results of this are still in the assessment process.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
We are still working towards our original goals, but we are seeing a high level of social growth in the students. Additionally we are beginning to see their executive functioning skills grow quickly and tremendously.
How did you measure this success or progress?
We continue to assess the staff, students, and parents that are involved with the project in order to track to success.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Unexpected impacts include families transferring schools in order to participate in Bravo Waterbury!, a surge in parental involvement within the program and within each child's life.