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Eckerd and Barry University Partner to Improve Career Opportunities for Former Troubled Youth

Eckerd Project Bridge, a program which helps troubled youth and Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida have found new ways to successfully prepare youth who have turned their lives around for the better after contact with Florida’s juvenile justice system. By offering an apprenticeship to Eckerd Project Bridge youth through a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Arts folklore division, Barry University is helping provide a second chance to South Florida youth who need it most.

Three youth in the Eckerd Project Bridge program studied with master percussionists for 12 weeks as an apprenticeship and earned $15 an hour for lessons and leading workshops. The funds covered a total of 75 hours for each apprentice, or $1,125. On April 17, the apprentices opened the monthly Big Night in Little Haiti concert at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in a concert with the master percussionists. On May 31, at the Gato Gallery at Barry University the youth and master percussionists presented a concert recital.

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) praised the efforts of both organizations for their innovative partnership to address the challenges currently faced by youth with little career hope.

“Thanks to the partnership between Eckerd Project Bridge and Barry University, these once at risk youth are being given the opportunity to turn their lives around.  Apprenticeships such as these are preparing our youth to join Florida’s workforce and ensure their successful transition into adulthood,” said DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly.

As part of the grant, youth who have completed their apprenticeship have the opportunity to be hired to teach the craft they have just studied.

“Drumming has played a powerful historical role in transforming lives in the Caribbean,” explains Dr. Celeste Fraser Delgado, a humanities professor at Barry University who directs the apprenticeship program. “We see that same power of transformation in the lives of youth in South Florida.”