Toyota and VH1 Save The Music Foundation, joined by musician, producer, composer and former founder of The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, presented South Philadelphia High School with a $50,000 Music Technology Grant focused on electronic music creation.
At a spirited school-wide assembly held at South Philadelphia High School’s auditorium on Wednesday, February 13, Matt Ozawa, Engagement Marketing Manager at Toyota Motor North America, and Chiho Feindler, Senior Director of Programs and Policy at VH1 Save The Music Foundation, awarded the grant to the school. South Philadelphia High School Principal, Kimlime Chek-Taylor and Executive Director, Office of The Arts & Academic Enrichment, Frank Machos, were also in attendance and spoke to the importance of music education in Philadelphia’s public schools.
The Philadelphia 76ers Dunk Squad surprised the crowd with an energetic performance with flips and tricks to hype up the room before Wyclef walked into the aisles of the auditorium answering questions from students and inspiring them with a message about education, music and success. One student asked Wyclef if it was challenging to get to where he is today and Wyclef responded by saying:
“At the end of the day, my mom told me if you stay focused and positive and do what you want to do, it’s going to happen. Don’t forget, we don’t do this because it’s easy, we do this because it’s hard and to show them we can overcome where we came from.”
Two young emerging artists, Jazzy Amra and Jeremy Torres, joined Wyclef on stage for an intimate set singing their original songs before Wyclef broke out into a freestyle jam session. Following the assembly, a group of music students joined Wyclef in an intimate workshop where he helped students one-on-one to create a beat using the brand new production equipment that was donated to the school as part of the Music Technology grant. The $50,000 donation to VH1 Save The Music fulfils a new program geared toward electronic music creation and technology—including DJ’ing, beat making, songwriting and audio engineering— to develop students’ creative and technical talents.
“At Toyota, we believe that music education is key to expression, creativity and connection,” said Matt Ozawa, engagement marketing manager, Toyota Motor North America. “We’re delighted to again partner with VH1 Save The Music Foundation to support their mission to restore music education programs in schools nationwide.”
In the past four years, the #ToyotaGiving campaign has collectively donated $160,000 to VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The funds benefit disadvantaged schools by providing musical instruments to support sustainable music education programs. Each campaign has culminated in a school assembly supported by surprise appearances from musicians such as GRAMMY Award-winning rock band Imagine Dragons, pop singer Santigold, and urban gospel singer Sir The Baptist. As a result of the Toyota grants, thousands of students have been able to experience the power of making music.
“We are so grateful for Toyota’s continued support for music education, said Chiho Feindler, Senior Director of Programs and Policy at VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “This year’s grant in Philadelphia is significant as it is a part of our music technology pilot program. We’re thrilled to be at the historical South Philadelphia High School to provide students with the opportunity to use their creative and technical talents to make their own music.”
#ToyotaGiving campaign comes to life through Toyota’s multiple music festival activations. 2018 music festivals included Stagecoach, Country 500, Firefly, Lollapalooza, Life is Beautiful, and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. Artists and festival attendees were encouraged to take a photo within the Toyota activation and hashtag #TOYOTAGIVING along with their message of what music means to them. Popular artists including All Time Low, Portugal. The Man, LAUV, Elle King, Tinashe, Georgia Satellites, Greta Van Fleet, PNB Rock and more participated in the activation and shared what music means to them.