Typically, this column features the achievements and accolades of the L.A. alumni community. We highlight the Grammy and Emmy winners and nominees, award-winning writing teams, producers and engineers, and top-notch touring musicians. Our Los Angeles alumni are industry professionals. We live in a hub of the entertainment industry and thrive in a symbiotic relationship: We embrace the industry and it embraces us.
Recently the Hollywood Reporter named Berklee the top Hollywood music school in Los Angeles even though the college isn’t based here, we beat locals University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. Let me bring you another accolade to celebrate: Our community has the highest percentage of Berklee alumni who give back to the college.
In June 2013, we set out to double alumni giving in Los Angeles via the Play It Forward initiative. We wanted the community to have a sense of pride and ownership over what we’ve built here, and channel that into giving back to the college. We not only doubled alumni giving, but also surpassed our original goal. We’ve set a new standard for alumni giving across the world.
Through the efforts of the director of the Berklee Center in L.A. Peter Gordon ’78 and Dana Pellitteri, associate director of the Berklee Fund, five leadership donors pledged between $2,500 and $10,000. They include composer and producer Eve Nelson ’86, film composer Joey Newman ’98, owner and principal engineer for Lurssen Mastering Gavin Lurssen ’90, film composer Joel Goodman ’84, and producer-arranger and performer Will Wells ’11.
When asked why he gives, Lurssen says, “My equity in the industry is in some part judged by my association with Berklee. But it’s also bigger than that. Berklee is making a path in music more accessible to a lot of students, so it’s important to support this effort and the college in order to essentially build a better community for us all.” Newman adds, “It’s my hope that Play It Forward reminds our Los Angeles Berklee community that current students are the future of music, and that we can help shape that future.”
With leadership donors secured, we turned to all of you at Green Room events, through e-mails and videos, on social media, and in personal meetings where we asked you to join us. You heard us and stepped up. To date, more than 200 Los Angeles alumni have given back to the college with gifts that total more than $23,000. The most common amount given is $10, proving that it’s the number of alumni participating rather than the amount given that matters most to us.
If you attended our annual SoCal brunch in January (our largest event to date), you know that we celebrated the success of Play It Forward with the 500 attendees and featured speaker Alan Silvestri ’70. Many alumni donated on site via a mobile-giving app—a first for a Berklee alumni event.
Most recently, Joel Goodman and his wife, Shuli, opened their home to other alumni to speak about why they are giving back to the college and supporting the future of the Los Angeles community.
The more we invest in the L.A. community, the more opportunities, events, and resources we’ll have to continue making ours one of the most popular cities for Berklee alumni to live and work. You all make this community what it is. We thank you as we celebrate this milestone and continue leading the Berklee alumni community worldwide.