Santana and his Milagro foundation donated some of the first electric guitars to Little Kids Rock back in 2001. Since then, Santana has personally visited and jammed with our kids in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
Recently, he and his foundation helped us bring music education to 13 new schools in New Hampshire.
Lady Gaga was Little Kids Rock’s honoree at the 2011 Little Kids Rock Benefit. Her appearance at the event was a complete surprise to the hundreds of guests in attendance. Gaga gave a rousing speech, took photos with our kids, and donated various items to our auction, including a signed keyboard and her very own earrings! She even bid on and won one of the auction experiences herself.
Singer, songwriter, actor, and dancer, Usher, was honored by Little Kids Rock at our 2019 Benefit in New York City for his commitment to music education through his Nancy Lackey Community Fund based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 2016, record producer, songwriter, and singer, Pharrell Williams, surprised Little Kids Rock students in a New York City school. The music students were in for a huge surprise as Williams joined them on stage mid-assembly concert!
Bonnie was one of Little Kids Rock’s earliest supporters back when it was just a grassroots movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since that time, Bonnie has joined our Honorary Board, done meet and greets with students and donors, visited classrooms and invited Little Kids Rock to soundchecks and to host tables at her concerts.
“We’re not only talking about the future of music. We’re talking about the future of our country.”
Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson’s career spans over four decades of hits. The Motown legend received Little Kids Rock’s “Rocker of the Year Award” in 2016 and shared his passion for keeping music education in schools. After joining a 12 year old student in a duet of “My Girl,” Smokey performed “Get Ready,” a hit he wrote for The Temptations, along with Little Kids Rock students from New York City and Philadelphia.
Bruce Springsteen surprised a huge crowd at the 2012 Little Kids Rock Benefit when he showed up to present an award to his friend and bandmate Steven Van Zandt. Bruce not only spoke, but also performed two songs onstage.
In 2014, Joan Jett was the honoree and headliner at the Little Kids Rock Benefit, which raised over a million dollars and attracted various luminaries including Alice Cooper, Billie Joe Armstrong, Cheap Trick, Tommy James, Ad-Rock, Darlene Love and others.
An honorary board member since 2009, Slash has inspired thousands of our students with his music, and an entire classroom full of students with his presence when he visited a school in Los Angeles and jammed with students on Sweet Child O’ Mine. Slash has contributed various auction items to help Little Kids Rock raise funds, including autographed Gibson Les Paul guitars, which he is known for shredding.
James Hetfield is the lead singer and guitarist for Grammy-winning band Metallica. Metallica has received worldwide recognition and is widely regarded as one of the most progressive and influential rock bands of all time. Hetfield himself has received recognition as one of the greatest metal guitarists as well as one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time.
In 2013, Hetfield was honored by Little Kids Rock at their Rockin’ the Bay Benefit in Menlo Park, CA. There, he performed on stage with local students and has filmed several PSA’s and donated autographed guitars and other items to our auctions.
Brandi Carlile did a backstage meet-and-greet with some high school students in New Jersey, and it turned into an all out jam session! Afterward, she filmed this public service announcement about how important music education is for kids.
Rascal Flatts surprised our students by delivering dozens of brand new instruments to a school in East Los Angeles. In partnership with CMA Foundation, the band presented a check to Little Kids Rock to help expand music education to even more students. The Insider and People Magazine came out to cover the visit, and the students, who jammed with Rascal Flatts on “Life Is A Highway” were thrilled to be featured on TV and in print!
Darryl McDaniels’ history with us dates back to his public school years when he was the student of a Little Kids Rock teacher’s mother! In 2009, he visited that teacher’s music classroom in New Jersey and saw how the transformational power of music was benefiting the students. Having a long relationship with us, McDaniels returned in 2020 as a keynote speaker at our annual Modern Band Summit with more than 1,000 music teachers in attendance.
Warren Haynes is a longtime friend and supporter of Little Kids Rock. In 2019, Haynes was honored at Little Kids Rock’s annual Benefit in New York City and again, took the virtual stage in 2020 with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead in a rendition of “Patchwork Quilt.”
Darlene Love has supported Little Kids Rock for many years, having been honored at the organization’s 2013 benefit event and having performed at several others, including the annual “A Souled Out Christmas” show in Red Bank, NJ. She also visited a school in Jersey City to deliver dozens of brand new instruments and sing “Lean on Me” with the students and the mayor!
The former American Idol runner-up surprised an entire school full of students when he appeared in their classroom and sang along with them while CNN filmed a segment. It was not only these kids’ first time meeting an American Idol, but also a role model whose music they were familiar with. It was also these kids’ first time on TV!
Alice Cooper came out to help Little Kids Rock honor Joan Jett at the 2015 Little Kids Rock Benefit. He performed on stage with Jett, helped us present an award to her, and then performed again with all of the evening’s performers, including our own students!
The former New York Yankees outfielder and GRAMMY-nominated guitarist was honored at Little Kids Rock’s 2010 benefit event. With the funds raised during that event, Williams visited a Little Kids Rock classroom in the Bronx and delivered a dozen guitars!
Big Kenny, country music star and half of the Big & Rich duo, visited a Nashville classroom and brought a dozen Guild acoustic guitars to donate to the class. As he said to the class, he believes that all children have the right to bear musical instruments!
The Green Day frontman came out to help Little Kids Rock honor Joan Jett at the 2015 Little Kids Rock Benefit. He performed on stage with Jett and then again with all of the evening’s performers, including our own students!
GRAMMY Award-winning Billy Strings joined music students and fellow musicians in creating a beautiful tribute of the famed Grateful Dead single “Touch of Grey”. The tribute was created in honor of music teachers and students experiencing distance and digital learning during the 2019-2020 school year.
Billy Squier performed with a group of Jersey City students at Little Kids Rock’s 2011 benefit event, and signed his guitar afterward to be auctioned off. Leading up to the concert, Squier visited the students at their school to work with them and prepare them for their biggest performance to date!
Bootsy Collins busted out his legendary space bass and the funky basslines to go with it when he visited a middle school in Jersey City. He jammed with the students, did lots of Q and A, and gave them a lesson that James Brown gave to him: “As long as you play on the one, you can do anything else in between… but always play on the one!”
The Linkin Park guitarist visited a high school in Los Angeles, and filmed a PSA to promote his support of Little Kids Rock.
Record producer, bassist, and member of legendary hip-hop group, Public Enemy, Brian Hardgroove’s first worked with us by visiting a school in Jersey City with Bootsy Collins. In 2020, Hardgroove’s passion and advocacy for music education positioned him as a keynote speaker at our annual Modern Band Summit with more than 1,000 music teachers in attendance. In the same year, Hardgroove joined our National Board of Directors.
Brian Wilson wowed our attendees at the 2013 Little Kids Rock Benefit in New York City. Wilson’s continued commitment to our work led him to record a beautiful version of ‘Love & Mercy’ with Little Kids Rock students.
The legendary drummer of Vanilla Fudge and Cactus fame has been a Little Kids Rock supporter for over a decade, having visited schools, filmed PSA’s, performed at fundraisers and even served as a guest judge and speaker at other Little Kids Rock events.
Casadee Pope has been supporting Little Kids Rock since early in her career, urging her fans to donate to help other budding musicians have the same opportunites she did. She also helped raise funds for Little Kids Rock at a weeklong fundraiser at the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort in Cancun.
Chad Smith is a staunch supporter of music education, having worked with NAMM, Turnaround Arts and Little Kids Rock to ensure that all kids have access to music education. After having gone on the Dr. Phil show with some of our kids in LA, Smith joined Little Kids Rock Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park, CA to be honored at our West Coast Family Jam Benefit, where he jammed with our students and did several interviews about the importance of music education.
Pop star Charlie Puth took time from his national tour to surprise students at Cage Elementary in Houston, TX with a delivery of brand new instruments. He performed his song, “One Call Away” with students, answered questions, and took photos with them, giving the students an experience they’ll never forget.
Cheap Trick flew out to New York to help Little Kids Rock honor Joan Jett at the annual Little Kids Rock Benefit in 2014. The band opened the concert with an incredible rendition of Jett’s song, “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”
Country music rising star, Clare Dunn, made a special tour stop at Mt. View Elementary School in Nashville, TN to deliver brand-new acoustic guitars, entertain and visit with students. The students were ecstatic to perform “Brown Eyed Girl” with Dunn, and she shared that it was the first song she ever learned to play.
A talented singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, filmmaker, and more, David Byrne’s work with us began as he embraced the title of ‘writer’. In writing “How Music Works”, Byrne referenced our work and approach in bringing music edcuation to students. His love of our program continued with a classroom visit to a Little Kids Rock classroom in New Jersey to meet our talented students!
Joining us at our 2015 Little Kid Rock Benefit in New York City, the one and only, David Letterman presented our honorary award to Paul Shaffer.
Elvis Costello has performed at two Little Kids Rock Benefits to help honor both Steven Van Zandt and Darlene Love. Furthermore, he autographed several instruments so that Little Kids Rock could auction them off to raise more funds to buy brand new instruments for kids in need.
In 2015, Fall Out Boy joined our music students for a photoshoot of a lifetime! In partnership with the Hot Topic Foundation, we facilitated this once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students to become true rockstars for a day!
The Anthrax bassist visited an elementary school in the Bronx and donated some of his custom signature bass guitars. He spoke to the kids about the importance of making music, saying no to drugs, and being all around positive people.
Gene Simmons and his family surprised a Little Kids Rock classroom in Los Angeles when they showed up to give a masterclass in music instruction and delivered tons of new instruments! The entire visit was featuerd on Simmons’ national television show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels. The KISS star also has donated autographed memorabilia for Little Kids Rock to auction off at its fundraiser events.
Nash was honored by Little Kids Rock as the Humanitarian of the Year in 2015, and performed “Teach Your Children” onstage with several local students.
Joining us at our 2017 Little Kid Rock Benefit in New York City, the legendary Harry Connick Jr. presented our honorary award to the one and only Bonnie Raitt.
A longtime supporter of our work, Herbie Hancock gave Little Kids Rock students the experience of a lifetime when he performed for them at the GRAMMY Museum in the heart of Los Angeles.
Jack Johnson’s Ohana Charitable Foundation has funded Little Kids Rock’s efforts to expand music education into inner city public schools. Personally, Johnson has autographed various guitars to be auctioned off by Little Kids Rock to raise more funding to support our work.
After coming to an event and meeting our kids, KoRn’s guitarist got his whole band involved by particpating in an online raffle in which the winner would get to go on tour with the band and ride on their bus! They filmed promo videos and promoted the raffle on social media, raising tens of thousands of dollars for Little Kids Rock. Munky also helped us deliver a bunch of instruments to a school in LA and helped the Hot Topic Foundation announce a huge donation to Little Kids Rock.
Jesse and Joy visited a classroom in Los Angeles along with State Farm Latino, who was running a fundraiser campaign for Little Kids Rock that unlocked another second of an unreleased song by the singer-songwriter duo every time someone used the hashtag #RitmoDeCambio. They taught the kids to perform one of their songs, and then filmed a music video with them to help promote the campaign and raise more funds to help Little Kids Rock put music into classrooms across the country!
Joe Satriani has been on Little Kids Rock’s honorary board for many years, having visited several schools and raised money through various auctions along his tours.
Our friendship with guitarist, singer, and songwriter Joe Walsh deepened during a visit to a Little Kids Rock classroom in Los Angeles. The students were thrilled they could jam with Walsh and learn from the best!
In 2018, Jon Batiste joined us for a legendary evening in NYC at the Little Kids Rock Benefit as he took the stage! That evening supported the expansion of Little Kids Rock programs across the country!
After supporting Little Kids Rock through his Find Your Light Foundation, Josh Groban made time to meet-and-greet with some students before a concert in Newark, and then gave the organization a shoutout from the Prudential Center stage. With the funds donated, he visited a school in lower Manhattan, jammed with the kids, spoke to them about his career, and delievered a bunch of brand new instruments.
Joshua Radin has visited several Little Kids Rock classrooms all over the United States, teaching then to play his songs and then inviting kdis onstage with him at his concert later that night. He also filmed a music video to his song Beatiful Day with students from Los Angeles. A former teacher, Radin understands the importance of music education and has even done benefit shows to raise money to support Little Kids Rock’s work.
Multi-platinum singer and songwriter, Kelly Clarkson, holds music education close to her heart. In 2014, while celebrating global Citizen Watch Company’s flagship opening in New York City, Clarkson performed on stage with Little Kids Rock students for quite the audience!
“I’m thrilled to receive the Humanitarian Award from Little Kids Rock. Every child should experience the healing power of music. I’m really proud and honored to be a part of the Little Kids Rock family.”
The “Footloose” and “Danger Zone” singer/songwriter was honored with Little Kids Rock’s “Humanitarian of the Year Award” for his decades of commitment to children’s causes, including his work with the Children’s Miracle Network and Why Hunger, and his involvement in the 1985 landmark charity single “We Are the World.” He performed his hit song “Footloose” with Little Kids Rock students and shared his strong feelings about keeping music alive in our schools.
Guitarist and singer, Christone “KINGFISH” Ingram, started his work with us in 2020 by performing in our first-ever Virtual Benefit.
The a capella star joined local students on stage at the 2015 Little Kids Rock Benefit and captivated an audience of 700 just weeks before making GRAMMY history with Pentatonix.
The Season 8 American Idol winner was honored at the 2010 Little Kids Rock Benefit, where he performed “Imagine” with Bernie Williams, Carmine Appice and our kids. Allen first saw Little Kids Rock in action when he visited a “Little Kids Rock Across America” Modern Band workshop in Los Angeles with Dr. Phil, and has since come out to perform at various Little Kids Rock events.
The Grammy Award Winning country group surprised a teacher in Miami by showing up with a classroom set of instruments and two free tickets to see the group perform.
In 2018, Lake Street Dive put on a duet to remember with a Little Kids Rock student at our annual Benefit in New York City.
DeVitto had a 30-year career as the drummer in Billy Joel’s band, and though he has traveled the world and helped create some of rock and roll’s most iconic songs, he has never forgotten his roots. Ever since Little Kids Rock moved its headquarters to New Jersey, DeVitto has been very involved in the organization’s growth, helping film drum curriculum videos, visiting schools to give masterclasses and performing at our benefit events.
Singer, songwriter, and record producer, Linda Perry, joined us in 2020 as a keynote speaker at our annual Modern Band Summit with more than 1,000 music teachers in attendance.
The Guns N’ Roses drummer has visited several Little Kids Rock schools, performed with Sammy Hagar at a benefit event, and partnered his Adopt The Arts organization with Little Kids Rock, resulting in a tremendous pyramid of guitars being donated to schools throughout Los Angeles.
Michael Franti painted a custom Fender (R) Stratocaster (R) for Little Kids Rock’s custom guitar auction in 2010. He also met with Little Kids Rock students prior to one of his shows in New Jersey, and invited one of the 12-year old girls to open his concert with an original song!
The Incubus lead guitarist performed live with Little Kids Rock students on the Dr. Phil Show in 2009, and even gave them a few pointers!
In 2017, actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer, and director, Mike Myers presented our honorary award to Elvis Costello.
Monte Pittman made his name as a guitar teacher for the stars, and has since been the primary guitar player for Madonna, Adam Lambert, Prong and others. He joined Little Kids Rock’s Honorary Board after visiting a school in LA and falling in love with our program. Pittman has also raised funds for Little Kids Rock through an online crowdfunding campaign, filmed a PSA, donated auction memorabilia and even served as the keynote speaker for the middle school he went to visit on its graduation day!
The English singer/songwriter, who came to fame with the band The Wanted, joined a star-studded lineup of musicians paying tribute to Smokey Robinson at the 2016 Little Kids Rock Benefit and performed Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.” Sykes, who has already inspired Little Kids Rock students across the nation as evidenced by his band’s popular song “Glad You Came,” dropped his debut solo album the following week.
Ne-Yo filmed an awesome PSA for Little Kids Rock, sharing his story about the teacher who helped transform his life by introducing him to music, the way that so many Little Kids Rock teachers do.
Nick Jonas was the celebrity partner for the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search, a campaign that benefitted Little Kids Rock and gave kids all across the country the chance to submit a video of themselves singing for a chance to win a record contract and be produced by Jonas himself!
Orianthi met with and inspired a group of high school students who got to take their first ever trip to the NAMM Show in Anaheim. There, they presented her with a guitar that they all signed and got time to ask the young Australian shredder lots of questions.
Primus featured Little Kids Rock as a beneficiary of its 2014 summer tour raffle, which gave fans the chance to support Little Kids Rock while entering for a chance to win a custom Orange Amplifier signed by the band.
In efforts to provide percussion instruments to schools, RUSH created a premium Neil Peart Paragon Cymbal Pack, each of which came with a free splash cymbal personalized, autographed and dated by the RUSH drummer himself. This cause-based marketing initiative went on to raise over $50,000 for Little Kids Rock.
The tenor vocalist for the soul vocal duo Sam & Dave and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer graced the stage at the 2016 Little Kids Rock Benefit and gave a rousing rendition of his hit song, “Soul Man.” He took the time to connect with students, most notably.
Sammy Hagar has supported our work by coming out to one of our events at Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA headquarters, where he performed on stage with our kids and donated autographed memorabilia to our auction.
Sofia Reyes surprised a Little Kids Rock classroom in 2016 in partnership with State Farm. The aspiring musicians were so excited to meet Sofia and share how music was making a difference in their lives!
The Dave Matthews Band bassist has been a member of Little Kids Rock’s honorary board since 2010, and stopped by our annual Dallas Jam Summit to give the students a special experience, which included a jam session on his tour bus as well as on stage, where he presented a dozen new guitars to the district. In Tampa, he invited a group of our students backstage to meet the various people involved in a concert setup, from the lighting guy, to the sound engineers, to Dave Matthews himself.
Stephen Colbert painted this custom Fender (R) Stratocaster (R) for Little Kids Rock’s custom guitar auction in which various celebrities from both the music and entertainment industries painted or decorated one-of-a-kind guitars.
Steve Miller was honored as the Rocker of the Year at Little Kids Rock’s 2015 Benefit in NYC. He performed a few of his hits, including “Fly Like An Eagle” with student vocalists, and even came back on stage to help auction off a guitar he signed.
Steven Van Zandt has helped Little Kids Rock raise millions of dollars by producing and performing at several Little Kids Rock Benefits in NYC, procuring and directing artists including Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Elvis Costello, Alice Cooper, Billie Joe Armstrong, Darlene Love, Brian Wilson, Cheap Trick, Bill Medley, Southside Johnny, Tommy James and many others. In addition, Little Kids Rock works closely with Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to produce music curriculum that includes both music performance and history.
The Black Eyed Peas vocalist surprised an entire school in East Los Angeles to when he showed up to deliver a dozen electric guitars and perform “I Got A Feelin” with students at their end-of-year school concert. He followed up in in-school performance with another one at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA, where he took the stage with kids from San Francisco. Later, he took elementary school students into a recording studio to record an original song that he wrote.
Tom Waits helped put Little Kids Rock on the news back in 2002 when he visited an elementary school classroom with Bonnie Raitt, Jason Newsted and Norton Buffalo.
Both Train and Little Kids Rock participated on COUNTRY Financial’s Road Trips and Guitar Picks campaign, which raised funds to help Little Kids Rock expand its free music programming to more schools. Before a concert in Alpharetta, GA, the band met with and sang “Hey Soul Sister” with a some Little Kids Rock students from Atlanta.
In incredible philanthropist and friend to Little Kids Rock, we first honored Trombone Shorty at our 2018 Benefit in New York City. He returned in 2019 to present that same award to the singing legend, Usher. In continued support of music education programs across the country, Trombone Shorty has collaborated with fellow musicians and music students, most recently with a music video rendition of “Touch Of Grey”.
Singer and songwriter, Vance Joy, joined us at our 2020 Little Kids Rock Virtual Benefit by surprising one of our student songwriters, Julia Kirkwood. After hearing Julia’s song “Keep Fighting”, Joy created a tribute for the young fan. Julia was speechless seeing her idol sing her original song!
The legendary bassist, whose philosophy of music is very much in line with that of Little Kids Rock, has not only visited students in a Little Kids Rock classroom, but was also the keynote speaker at our national Modern Band Rockfest conference for teachers.
Warren Haynes is a longtime friend and supporter of Little Kids Rock. In 2019, Haynes was honored at Little Kids Rock’s annual Benefit in New York City and again, took the virtual stage in 2020 with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead in a rendition of “Patchwork Quilt.”
Will Lee shows his commitment to music education through his every action! Since 2015, Lee has served as the musical director for every in-personal Little Kids Rock Benefit that we have held across various iconic New York City venues!
Rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor, Wiz Khalifa has become a big friend of Little Kids Rock starting in 2019 when we honored him at our annual Benefit in New York City for his philanthropic leadership. In 2020, Khalifa auctioned “Clothes Off His Back” to fundraise on behalf of our work in bringing more music to more kids. in the same year, we coordinated a visit to a Los Angeles Little Kids Rock classroom where Khalifa surprised music students while they were performing his award-winning “See You Again”.
Country singer, Wynonna Judd, selected Little Kids Rock as her charity of choice to help her and City National Bank rename the San Jose Civic Center. Little Kids Rock students performed, and she joined them for a rendition of her song, “Love Can Build A Bridge” before unveiling the new marquee. She also helped present Little Kids Rock rock a check for $5,000 to expand music programming for local students in San Jose.
Internationally-recognized cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, has become one of our biggest advocates for music education. In 2019, Ma joined Jim Peterik and Little Kids Rock students on stage at Millenium Park in Chicago. Together, they performed an unbelievable rendition of “Eye Of The Tiger”.
Ziggy Marley has been an Honorary Board Member of Little Kids Rock since he visited a school in LA in 2008, where he jammed with an auditorium filled with students! He then filmed a PSA and met with some of our San Francisco students before one of his concerts.
Abasi joined Little Kids Rock as Director of Technology in November 2020. In this role he manages the strategy, innovation, and implementation of Little Kids Rock’s technology initiatives, working with internal teammates and external partners to bring Little Kids Rock’s digital platforms to the next level of engagement.
Abasi has over 15 years of experience leading technology departments in the finance, legal, and non-profit sectors. He has led a wide range of projects from DevOps, infrastructure management, and governance, to cybersecurity and cloud migrations. Through his work, Abasi manages to communicate technology strategies to non-tech departments in a palatable form. He has had the opportunity to share his knowledge throughout the tech community on best practices for current and future technology initiatives as a featured speaker and panelist at conferences around the country.
In his free time, Abasi is an avid cyclist and enjoys playing basketball. He is also an aspiring BBQ Pitmaster who cherishes the art of smoking a brisket.
Charly joined the team in February 2014 and was named Little Kids Rock’s Chief Operations Officer in June 2014. Charly brings over twenty years of experience in team leadership, operational management, marketing and youth development to Little Kids Rock. Charly served as the Chief Operating Officer at America SCORES, a nonprofit organization that uses sports and creative expression to engage, empower, and inspire thousands of at-risk public school youth in low-income communities around the country. Prior to America SCORES, he served as a Vice President at LeadDog Marketing Group, an award-winning marketing company he helped found in 1999. At LeadDog, he shepherded the infrastructural development of the company as it quickly grew in revenue, clients, services, and employees, directing various operational functions along with supervising both administrative and account teams. While at LeadDog, Charly also served as an adjunct professor at NYU. Before moving to New York in 2000, Charly was the Director of Operations at a promotion agency in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Producer for the 1996 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major sporting events, including the MLB All-Star Game. His professional career began in the area of informal education, serving as a regional Assistant Director, Senior Advisor and Program Director for a national Jewish youth organization, where Charly primarily worked with elementary school and high school students.
As a first-generation Cuban-American, Charly’s native language is Spanish. He began playing piano with a private Cuban teacher at the age of five and later, in public school, learned to play the drums. As an adult, he focused on Latin percussion, and currently plays timbales in a Latin Soul band and in his own Latin Jazz quintet. He has studied music theory, solfege, and performance in private lessons, school settings, rehearsals, and workshops (including at the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Spanish Harlem, a Berklee City Music Network member).
Fueled by his belief that all people are innately musical, Dave Wish founded and serves as Chief Executive Officer of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that funds and runs one of the largest instrumental and vocal music programs in US public schools today. Little Kids Rock is also a leading provider of free instruments and curriculum. Dave has initiated and managed the launch of campaigns to restore, expand and innovate music education for more than 1,000,000 children in 44 states.
While working as a public school teacher in California, Dave developed a revolutionary new approach to teaching music known as “Music as a Second Language.” Today, dozens of colleges and universities across the United States use Music as a Second Language in their music education programs. This methodology focuses on the linguistic aspects of music and focuses heavily on teaching children to play the music that they already know and love. By utilizing music which is culturally relevant and sustaining for youth, the approach brings greater equity and inclusivity into music classroom.
In 2008, Dave conceived of and launched a new type of school-based music program known as “modern band.” Modern band is a new category of instrumental, vocal, technological and performative music education that is offered alongside of existing programs such as jazz band, marching band and orchestra. Since that time, modern band programs have been written into the music curriculum of school districts across the country and a number of state departments of education have partnered with Little Kids Rock to make modern band a statewide feature of their educational offerings.
A recognized social entrepreneur, Dave has been awarded numerous honors for his work in the field, including prestigious fellowships from Ashoka, The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, The Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation, and The Goldhirsh Foundation, as well as receiving the 2014 New Jersey State Governor’s Jeffersonian Awards in the ‘Ambassador’ category for his exemplary volunteer service beyond the borders of New Jersey.
Dave’s work has been highlighted by national and local media outlets including The New York Times, CNN Headline News, Time Magazine, MTV, A&E, Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Dr. Phil Show and National Public Radio. He has also been a speaker at the LEGO Idea Conference, Imagine Solutions Conference, Social Innovation Summit, TEDxSantaCruz and the Net Impact Conference.Dave is active in the broader field of music education. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium, the Governance Committee of Amp Up NYC as well as the Advisory Boards of SpreadMusicNow and Oberlin’s Music in America Initiative.
Janice Polizzotto has more than 25 years working in both the private and public sectors with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility; nonprofit management, fundraising and event planning, and strategic partnerships.
As Chief Development Officer of Little Kids Rock, Janice is leading overall fundraising strategy, achieving financial sustainability, and stewarding large corporate partners and individual donors. She is also forging new relationships with major donors and partners to support the organization’s anticipated growth and expansion.
Janice’s years of experience in corporate giving, fundraising, and strategic partnerships, most recently as Senior Development Officer, Providence Foundations, Southern California, will serve to further the impact and mission of Little Kids Rock. Prior to Providence, she founded Social Wisdom, LLC, and held a senior management position with CBS EcoMedia, managing strategic partnerships and national programs. Janice also founded the successful endeavor, The Polizzotto Group, LLC, with clients including Toy Industry Association, White Plains Hospital, California Pizza Kitchen, Weingart Center, and Little Company of Mary Hospital. Janice also served as the inaugural Executive Director of Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. In addition to her role as CDO, Janice serves on the Los Angeles Advisory Council for Common Sense Media.
Janice began her professional career in corporate philanthropy with American Honda Foundation and later Mattel Children’s Foundation where she was instrumental in redesigning the foundation’s philanthropy and expanding its activities overseas.
Janice currently lives in Hermosa Beach, CA with her husband, Daniel. Recent empty-nesters, they enjoy traveling, entertaining, relaxing on the sandy beaches of the South Bay… oh, and music, too!
Miranda joined the Little Kids Rock team as Program Manager in April 2009, and has helped expand the mission from serving 35,000 children annually to its current reach of more than 550,000 students today. Throughout the past decade she has worked to grow many programmatic areas of the organization, including the vibrant teacher community, training operations, customer service, special events and the organization’s annual professional development conference, the Modern Band Summit.
Currently, as Senior Director of Program Operations, she oversees all operational elements within the program department, providing leadership in areas that include instrument distribution, certification logistics, partner relationships, program budget and the management of key program metrics.
Miranda is currently working on her MBA with a concentration in Music Business from Berklee College of Music and Southern New Hampshire University. An avid music maker, she loves organizing staff jam sessions and has led beginner lessons in lead guitar both at the Modern Band Summit and via Little Kids Rock’s YouTube Channel. She is always excited for any opportunity to play and enjoys supporting local bands in her local New York/New Jersey metro area.
Scott, the Director of Teaching & Learning, taught music in the Los Angeles public school system for twelve years before joining the Little Kids Rock team as full-time Los Angeles County Regional Program Director in 2012. His duties include managing all musical content of the organization, including training, professional development, and curriculum. He was introduced to Little Kids Rock in 2004 at one of their first trainings and has been involved ever since.
Scott completed his dissertation, “Transformation of Habitus and Social Trajectories: A study of a popular music program”, and received his DMA from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He received his B.A. in Music from University of California, Santa Barbara,studied and taught music theory at the doctoral level at the Eastman School of Music, and completed his single subject music teaching certificate from California State University, Northridge.
While primarily a guitarist, Scott has played a variety of instruments as a performer in the fields of classical music, jazz, mariachi, and salsa music and has taught music theory, marching band, concert band, guitar, rock band, jazz band, mariachi ensemble, and keyboards. He misses working directly with his students but loves working with fellow educators and helping them reach their students through Little Kids Rock!
Throughout his career, Will has dedicated his efforts to achieving greater equality, inclusion, and sustainability, utilizing his education and experience in finance, accounting, and leadership. Will is one of the newest band members at Little Kids Rock, serving as the CFO. Prior to Little Kids Rock, William spent the last three years leveraging his technical and leadership skills for mission-based organizations that have a focus in education and diversity.
William also participates in philanthropy that is focused on career growth for people of color and serves on the board of Achievement First, a tri-state charter school institution which provides a quality education in over 40 schools, in mostly underserved communities. He led the Association of Latinos Professionals for America NY chapter as their President from 2011 to 2015. During his time on the executive board, the chapter grew from 1,200 members to over 3,300 members, tripled the number of corporate partners and professional development programs. Will has also served on the boards of the National Association of Black Accountants, Latinas in Business, St. Peter’s Prep and Womensphere. He is also an active member of Sponsors for Education Opportunity and frequently mentors Career Program students during the summer.
Will earned his B.S. in Public Accounting from Pace University and an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern Business School. He started his career at JPMorgan in their Accounting Management Training Program. Will then joined Lehman Brothers and spent 4 of his 10 years in their Tokyo, Japan office. After Lehman Brothers, Will joined UBS where he supported the Rates and Commodities businesses as their controller in the Americas, earning his six-sigma green belt while leading numerous efficiency and regulatory projects. He left UBS when he was presented with a great opportunity to lead a new division at BNY Mellon as their CFO of the investment banking division and then went on to develop Prudential’s annuities business Resolution Plan as part of the Dodd Frank regulatory requirements.
Growing up in an underserved area of Jersey City, New Jersey, Will had a teacher in middle school, Mr. G, who encouraged him to learn piano. Will’s family could not afford a piano or keyboards for him to practice at home, so Will diligently practiced after school with Mr. G. to develop his skills. Mr. G also encouraged Will to apply to St. Peter’s Prep for his high school education, to which Will did and was accepted. Will credits his education and career success to Mr. G who presented him with opportunities he never knew existed. Mr. G passed away when Will was in high school. In Mr. G’s memory, Will continues to give back to young people as they navigate their education and careers in hopes that he can make an impact on them, as Mr. G did for him.
Will lives in Princeton, New Jersey and enjoys spending time with his daughter, a freshman in college, his son, a freshman in high school, his partner, Julie and their two dogs.
Alexis originally began his musical journey as a Little Kids Rock student back in 2011. Shortly after completing high school, Alexis returned to Little Kids Rock in 2018 as an intern for the summer. Now he is officially part of the team with the drive and enthusiasm to have Little Kids Rocks spark the hearts of others; the same way his heart was.
Alexis is a multi-instrumentalist that values the art in music. He devotes his time producing music, playing in live shows with numerous bands, and teaching private music lessons.
Alexis is currently in the process of completing a Bachelor of Arts in music performance at Ramapo College Of New Jersey. When Alexis is not at work at LKR, he is gaming, practicing his instruments, producing new musical projects or spending time with family and friends.
“Music has changed my life in so many ways that I have to share it with the world!”
Dr. Bryan Powell leads higher education initiatives for Little Kids Rock. He is an Assistant Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at Montclair State University where teaches classes in music technology, guitar, and popular music. Bryan formerly served as the Director of Programs for Amp Up NYC, a partnership between Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock. Bryan is a musician and music educator who worked as a public school music teacher for the New York City Department of Education. Bryan is the Executive Director of the Association for Popular Music Education and currently serves as the Chair of the NAfME Popular Music Education SRIG.
Bryan is a widely published researcher and author. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Popular Music Education and editor of the Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Education. Bryan is the author of Popular Music Pedagogies: A Practical Guide for Music Teachers (Routledge), and a co-author of The Music Learning Profiles Project: Let’s Take This Outside (Routledge). He has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals including; International Journal of Music Education; Journal of Music Teacher Education; International Journal of Community Music; Journal of Music, Technology and Education; Update: Applications of Research to Music Education; Visions of Research in Music Education; @IASPM Journal; Education 3-13; Music Educators Journal; and Action Critique and Theory in Music Education. He also has authored multiple chapters in Oxford and Routledge Research Handbooks.
Bryan has a Bachelor of Music degree from Pepperdine University, a Masters degree in Teaching from Chapman University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University.
Clayton is a Little Kids Rock alumnus (2003) and an avid music lover who joined the organization as a Teaching and Learning Assistant in May 2019. He helps the Teaching and Learning team provide ongoing support for our teachers and students nationwide.
Clayton is a multi-instrumentalist who, throughout his musical journey, served as a Minister of Music, a Musical Director, and a producer. Clayton has contributed to the projects of major industry artists including OMI, Popcaan, and others. He is the Co-Founder of Sworn Creative Solutions, a songwriting and production company. Clayton is also the bassist and background vocalist for an eclectic New Jersey-based band that blurs the genre lines of funk, R&B, hip-hop, and rock.
Clayton is currently in the process of completing a Bachelor of Arts in public and nonprofit administration with a minor in music at Rutgers University. In his free time, he enjoys spending quality time with his family. His wife and son are foundational to his zeal, and he values the vital role they play in his success.
Lauren joined Little Kids Rock in February 2012 as a Program Assistant. Since then she has worked closely with the many teachers served by the organization, welcoming them from their first workshop to providing support throughout each school year. Now, as the Senior Manager of Program Evaluation & Operations, Lauren ensures meaningful program data is collected and analyzed to help further the organization’s mission. She also works closely with instrument providers to get teachers and students the instruments they need to make music in the classroom. Each year, Lauren oversees registration and hospitality for the annual Modern Band Summit and has seen the conference grow immensely since the first “Rockfest” in 2013. Also a dance teacher, Lauren jumps in to give teachers tips and tools to get their students moving. Occasionally Little Kids Rock students perform her choreography at the organization’s annual benefit.
Lauren graduated from Rutgers University in 2011 with a Bachelor of the Arts in American Studies and Dance. During her time at Rutgers, she managed the annual New Jersey Folk Festival. When she’s not at the office, Lauren enjoys gardening, taking walks, baking, and spending time with family and friends.
Mary Claxton joined the Little Kids Rock team full-time as the Colorado Director of Programs in August 2017. Previously, she was a classroom teacher for five years, and began work as a Little Kids Rock teacher trainer during that time. She now works directly with teachers and administrators across the state and is thrilled to be working with Governor John Hickenlooper’s Take Note initiative to bring music education to every student in Colorado.
Mary has a Bachelors of Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Northern Colorado. She gigs regularly as both a drummer and a vocalist and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.
Mike joined Little Kids Rock as an intern in September 2014. Nowadays, he works as the Manager of Certification, helping teachers get modern band programs started all across the nation. As a member of the program team, Mike manages professional development events and operations.
Graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2014, Mike holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Electric Bass. In his free time, he likes to jam, record, and gig with friends.
Growing up as a music student, from elementary school through college, Mike has a genuine passion for music education. As a member of the Little Kids Rock team, he is committed to the pursuit of music in all walks of life.
Ryan has been serving the world of music education since 2012. After teaching for a brief period in New York’s Hudson Valley he became an instrument repair technician, maintaining the classroom instruments for several nearby school districts. He then joined the Carl Fischer Music company to serve the needs of the educational publishing market. Originally joining Little Kids Rock in January 2017 with the responsibility of serving all modern band educators in NYC, he now drives programmatic project planning and execution to meet the organization’s strategic priorities.
Ryan earned his Bachelors in Music Education with a concentration in upright bass from SUNY Fredonia in 2012, although he has never forgotten his garage band roots. He is often seen playing upright bass, electric bass, and tenor banjo in several New York groups, performing a diverse range of styles including traditional Punk, Rock, Jazz, and Bluegrass.
Spencer joined Little Kids Rock in 2016 as the Technology Education Manager. A teacher for three years in New York City public schools, Spencer focused on combining instrumental performance with recording and digital music production. Their students learned to play guitar and keyboard and produced music using iPads and laptop computers. As an educator, Spencer focused on cultivating a love of music in their students and on providing them with the skills necessary to continue to learn on their own. Spencer’s YouTube channel (YouTube.com/SpencerCHale), built to support their students’ learning, features over 200 educational videos from instrumental lessons to software demos to play-a-long tracks. It has over 4,000 subscribers and over 1 million views.
Spencer was in the first graduating class of New York University’s dual degree program, completing their BA in Music Performance in 2012 and their MA in Music Education the following year. Spencer performs around the city on bass guitar and writes and records music in their home studio.
Tony taught music in Los Angeles for 8 years before joining the Little Kids Rock team. Tony has been working with Little Kids Rock since 2007 and is a firm believer in recreational music making and music therapy.
Tony received his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Ethnomusicology with a minor in Chicana/o Studies. He received his master’s degree in Afro-Latin Music from California State University Los Angeles in 2012. He has been playing guitar for over 20 years and currently tours nationally as a singer-songwriter with his group, Cuicani. He is an avid supporter of music from around the world and has a deep passion for Afro-Caribbean music.
In his role as Manager of Program Certification & Operations, Warren liaises between district arts administrators and Little Kids Rock. Warren also manages logistics and presentations at national music conferences, as well as virtual professional development trainings throughout the year. As the modern band movement continues to grow, Warren makes sure teachers interested in bringing modern band to their districts have a reliable and proven path to make it happen!
Warren received his Bachelors in Music from The College of New Jersey and his Masters in Music from The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Both of his degrees were received with a concentration in classical guitar. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Music Education from Boston University.
Warren has also been a mentor for Thomas Edison State University since 2006, working in both the PLA and Music departments. He has instructed online courses on prior learning assessment, music history, and guitar. Besides his work with TESU, Warren’s teaching experience includes private guitar instruction since 1999 and public school teaching of general music, choir, and modern band in the Jersey City Public School system from 2006 to 2017.
In his spare time, Warren enjoys photography and spending time with his wife Kelly, and their two children Catherine and Matthew.
To donate by mail, please make your check payable to Little Kids Rock, Inc. and send it to the following address:
Little Kids Rock
P.O. Box 43369
Montclair, NJ 07043-0369
For FedEx deliveries,
Little Kids Rock
c/o Diane Jiggetts
16-06 Jordan Road
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
Danielle joined Little Kids Rock in February 2020 as Senior Manager of Artist & Industry Relations. She is focused on nurturing and stewarding “Little Kids Rock’s artist relationships” while building and managing the organization’s artist relations strategy.
Danielle has over 12 years experience in the music industry starting her career at Next Plateau Entertainment, Inc. an independent label based in New York City where she started as an intern and later evolved into a full-time position focusing on licensing and production after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a music business degree. Danielle spent the last 8 years working for Kobalt Music Group where she began in the synch publishing department and soon grew into one of the first US employees to build Kobalt’s global digital distribution and label service company AWAL. Serving many growing roles at Kobalt, Danielle recently worked in label management providing direct support to legendary independent label Glassnote Records.
Danielle loves to travel with her husband, especially to the Caribbean. Jamaica is their favorite island with all the reggae and jerk chicken they can get! She is also a huge animal advocate and volunteers at Husky House a non-profit committed to the rescue, shelter, care, and adoption of stray, abandoned and unwanted animals. Danielle is so excited to be apart of Little Kids Rock’s incredible mission and to help impact our kids in a different way. Let’s rock!
Erin Keating joined the Little Kids Rock team in December 2019. As Senior Coordinator, Institutional Giving, Erin prospects new and stewards existing foundation support for Little Kids Rock. Prior to joining Little Kids Rock, Erin worked at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and served in a similar capacity in their development department. Erin has a B.A. in literary studies and creative writing from Roanoke College in Virginia and an M.A. in history and culture from Drew University. She is grateful to use her writing skills and passion for the arts and arts education to help support Little Kids Rock’s important mission.
Keith helps guide Little Kids Rock’s strategic and creative vision for fostering a culture of philanthropy, and connecting the organization’s supporters with its work. By building deep, lasting relationships with supporters, and creating unique and meaningful pathways for them to support music education, he ensures that everyone who engages with Little Kids Rock and its network of teachers and students feels like part of a movement. Keith serves as the liaison to various regional advisory boards and committees, plans and executes all fundraising events and campaigns, and enacts meaningful partnerships that help expand Little Kids Rock’s reach and impact.
Keith joined Little Kids Rock as an intern in 2009, and quickly realized he was home. He joined a small team and contributed to growing a grassroots organization into its current state. For years, he managed all of the communications, marketing, PR, and branding efforts before turning his efforts toward helping raise funds to support Little Kids Rock’s program. His strengths include public speaking, storytelling, and exuding passion for the mission.
Keith grew up in New Jersey with a passion for storytelling, sports, and concerts. He studied Public Relations at Penn State University and spent a semester abroad in Australia. While he dabbles in various instruments, he is the organization’s resident harmonica player.
Kelly joined Little Kids Rock in May 2015 as the Manager, Institutional Giving. As Kelly deepened her knowledge of both the organization and the field of nonprofit grant-making, she was promoted to Senior Manager in 2018. Currently, as the Director of Development, Kelly supports the organization’s efforts to reach its fundraising goals across various disciplines, including institutional, individual, and corporate giving, by managing the development department and working across the rest of the organization to ensure department alignment.
Prior to joining Little Kids Rock, Kelly worked for two years as a Grants Specialist in the Sponsored Programs Administration office of the Nathan S. Kline Institute within the New York State Office of Mental Health, where she focused on NIH and NSF grant compliance.
Kelly holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Caldwell University and a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology, focusing on Human Development and Social Intervention, from New York University.
Lizzie joined the Little Kids Rock team in May 2021 and is the Senior Coordinator, Development Operations. She supports the development team with Salesforce database management, donor communication efforts, and a variety of development projects that help the team meet their annual fundraising objectives.
Lizzie is originally from Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University with her BA in Communications & Culture Studies. In 2011, Lizzie moved to New York City for a development opportunity with New York Cares. She spent six years at New York Cares, working in several development capacities, including individual giving, special events, corporate social responsibility, Salesforce migration, and revenue operations. Lizzie then worked in the advertising sponsorship department at the NPR member station, New York Public Radio – WNYC Radio, where she helped transition the team to Salesforce and streamline revenue processes. Lizzie then worked for The Learning About Multimedia Project (The LAMP) planning digital media literacy workshops for New York City public schools and nonprofit partners, and helping with their Salesforce migration. Lizzie was then hired by the revenue team at Gannett – The USA Today Network. Lizzie lives with her husband, toddler, and dog, and is an avid runner, amateur chef, and history buff.
Madeline joined Little Kids Rock in January 2014 as Dave Wish’s Executive Assistant and was recently promoted into her current role as Senior Coordinator, Development. In this new role, she will be working closely with the Chief Development Officer and Development team to help cultivate and grow our list of supporters. She is excited to use all of the knowledge she has acquired over the years working alongside the CEO and founder to help inspire more people to support the mission of Little Kids Rock.
Prior to joining the Little Kids Rock team, Maddy already had an extensive background and passion for music and the music education industry. She worked for School of Rock, LLC for four years and was involved in all aspects of the company. She was also a performer and toured as a background singer in the International rock band Blackmore’s Night, with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple for several years. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Stony Brook University. In her spare time, Maddy enjoys being with her family, including her daughter, who is already showing signs of being a great performer.
Matt joined Little Kids Rock as the Grants Manager in 2013 and is currently Senior Manager, Institutional Giving. In his role, Matt manages the daily operations of the institutional giving portfolio including the stewardship and solicitation of corporate and foundation partners. He previously worked in this capacity for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
A lifelong musician, Matt is excited to share his passion for popular music with the next generation of music-makers. Matt holds a BA in Political Science from Rutgers University. In his free time, he enjoys making music, traveling, and dining.