Hopewell Music Cooperative North (Hopewell), located in the Webber-Camden neighborhood of North Minneapolis, offers equitable music education through lessons, classes, and ensembles. With programs like a flute choir, lessons on almost a dozen instruments, and a community choir for singers, the organization fosters community through music. Over the past year and half, their tagline “keeping music alive in North Minneapolis,” felt like a promise the staff and teachers made to their students each day as they helped their students (96% of them under the age of 18) navigate the stress of the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the uprisings that followed, and ongoing conversations about justice.
The mission of Hopewell is to empower underserved youth and adult students in North Minneapolis through high quality and affordable music education that is accessible to all regardless of age, background, ability, or financial circumstance. Lessons are offered on a sliding scale and are based on income. Students are also able to rent instruments and seek financial assistance for their repairs. The organization came into existence in 2012 and by 2019 had impacted over 700 Northside students.
“We are creative about getting music out into the community,” executive director Andrea Myers said. “Music brings people together, and we want it to be accessible. Our concerts are on bus routes, we play at community events such as Open Streets, and before the pandemic, we had a bucket drum series in the park we hope we can bring back soon.”
At the beginning of 2020, before anyone knew what the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) would bring, the organization faced a profound financial crisis. Through a grant from the Phillips Family Foundation, Hopewell’s long-time staff member, teacher, and newly appointed acting executive director Andrea Myers and the rest of the administrative staff contracted with Propel’s Strategic Services team to review their budget, collect and analyze important program data, and find clarity around their finances. Eventually, that work transitioned into the organization’s first conversations around strategic planning and board development through which the organization was able set some long-term goals and recruit new board members to reinvigorate its leadership.
“It was great to have Propel as a partner during that time,” Myers said. “We received advice for how to effectively partner with the board and offer support through board development, and as an organization we were able to pivot and be responsive when the pandemic began.”
This responsiveness and investment into the capacity of the organization helped Myers support the organization’s staff, teachers, and students when COVID-19 forced the organization to reimagine their programming for the foreseeable future.
“We closed for a week at the beginning of the pandemic to figure out what we were going to do,” Myers said. “I have been with the organization since it began in 2012, and I am proud of how we have grown over the last year.”
In that week, the organization moved all programming online, made sure students had what they needed to practice, and set up staff and teachers to be comfortable working from home. During the pandemic, Myers transitioned from acting to permanent executive director of the organization. Hopewell became more than a place for music lessons, it became place for emotional support and community resources.
“I have to shout out the teachers who offered incredible emotional support during a time of instability,” Myers said. “During lessons they spent time talking about things that were happening in the world and in the students’ lives. The students were going through so much that sometimes they just played games together virtually.”
Hopewell hosted its 9th Anniversary Concert virtually
The staff plans to continue to host community and anti-racism resources at their website in addition to resources for music education. Upon their return to in-person lessons, they will continue to offer virtual ones to keep programs as accessible as possible.
“We all love being with our students,” Myers said. “We teach music by teaching to the person. Our goal is to help them grow into the best person they can be – guiding them to be a part of the community and contribute in a way that they enjoy. We try to teach them that music is always there for them and that they can always come back to it no matter what.”
To learn more about Hopewell Music Cooperative North you can visit their website: https://www.hopewellmusic.com/. To support the organization, consider becoming a sustaining donor to ensure all students on the Northside have access to high quality music education.