YOUTH ON RECORD
News: In early May, executive director Jami Duffy received an email stating that an anonymous donor was interested in making a significant contribution to Youth on Record, a Denver-based nonprofit founded by members of the rock band, the Flobots.
Her initial reaction: It was some sort of scam.
Still, she didn’t want to miss a legitimate opportunity, so she reached out to the sender.
“I nearly fainted when the donors’ team told me the amount – and that it was coming from MacKenzie Scott and her spouse, Dan Jewett,” Duffy said. Scott, a novelist and philanthropist, is the former wife of Amazon founder/billionaire Jeff Bezos and has pledged to give away her estimated $57 billion fortune not just over the course of her lifetime, but as quickly as possible with few strings attached to those on the receiving end of her generosity.
“I was especially excited because I had read that Dan Jewett was a teacher and Youth on Record is deeply committed to literacy and equitable education,” Duffy added. “And, I was thrilled that the funding was coming from a woman who is breaking traditional philanthropic molds.
“My hand was shaking when they told me the amount. I wrote $1 million on a piece of paper – like I was going to somehow forget the amount. I’ll save that piece of paper forever. This is the kind of call you wait your entire career to get.”
When Duffy joined Youth on Record in 2009, the organization was “too new and outside the norm to be considered a worthy investment by many traditional funders. So we learned to fundraise with a sense of entrepreneurship typically found in for-profit startups.”
The efforts were successful, with revenue increasing by 2,400 percent in 11 years, and by 300 percent in the last five years. Youth on Record currently has some 500 sources of income, with contributions ranging from $6 to $200,000 annually.
Duffy said Youth on Record will use the $1 million gift to help offset the cost of launching “Big Idea,” a multi-million dollar venture that will prepare and support artists throughout the United States to make art and make an impact. In addition, a portion of the $1 million will go toward increasing employee benefits, including offering retirement and health care for those working part time; mental wellness stipends; and expanding the Youth on Record offices to meet the needs of its growing team of local musicians.
About the organization: The Flobots, a socially conscious rock band based in Denver, founded Youth on Record in an effort to increase a host of meaningful measures for young people, including mentorship opportunities, graduation rates, academic success, social/emotional learning and access to high-quality economic opportunities. Youth on Record is headquartered in the Denver Housing Authority’s mixed-use development, La Mariposa, in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood.
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