In 2006, UC alumnae Shelley Bamberger (BFA in Musical Theatre, 1975; MM in Theatre Arts, 1976) and Jane Florer (MED from McMicken College, 1986) approached Cincinnati's City Gospel Mission with the idea of bringing music to the mission's already successful after-school literacy program.
City Gospel Mission's Whiz Kids program provides one-to-one tutoring and mentoring at 64 locations in Greater Cincinnati. Bamberger and Florer's concept was to use this program to reach students at disadvantaged schools in Cincinnati, which no longer have music programs of their own.
Through this arrangement, students could now elect to receive after-school tutoring in reading and writing followed by music education.
Five years after Bamberger and Florer initiated this partnership, then-graduate student Sarah Taylor (AD, 2014) joined the team and began to integrate her interest in classical and instrumental music into Whiz Kids. Soon, she was inviting friends and fellow students from CCM into the classroom as guest artists to teach about instruments and lead group activities.
Nearly 50% of public schools in Cincinnati did not have music programs when Whiz Kids started, "which just obviously was really heartbreaking," Taylor explains.