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Lead Sheet

Steps Toward the Future

Juan Maldonado, a self-taught yet highly proficient bassist, drummer, pianist, guitarist, trumpeter, and percussionist, grew up in the city of Chelsea, which is located in the shadow of Boston. Home to a large immigrant population, Chelsea struggles with poverty, crime, troubled schools, and a lack of jobs. It's a difficult place to believe in lofty dreams. Nevertheless, music provided a sense of hope, purpose, and accomplishment for Juan and his siblings. "Growing up, my family lived music," he says. "It wasn't something we picked up, it was already in us."

Due to a late start in school and a language barrier, Juan was not expected to complete high school, but he persevered, making music his avenue to success. The realization of his dreams began with his induction into the Berklee City Music Program (BMCP). The curriculum of BMCP is designed to nurture the talent of young musicians from inner-city neighborhoods. Juan later received a scholarship to attend Berklee's Five-Week Summer Performance Program and distinguished himself enough to win a full-tuition scholarship to study music education at Berklee. Next spring, Juan will become the first member of his large extended family to graduate from college.

Juan has already recorded five albums in his home studio, and he conducts his church choirs and band and assists his teachers in Berklee's Saturday School program. He has expressed an interest in teaching "like Berklee teachers." As a music educator, Juan will touch the lives of hundreds of young people. His hope (and Berklee's) is that his experience will inspire other young people to follow in his footsteps.

As members of the Berklee community, we are in the enviable position of seeing passionate students like Juan blossom before our eyes. That's why the college decided to launch Giant Steps, our first-ever capital campaign. We have set a goal of raising $50 million between now and June 2011 to increase scholarship support, expand Berklee's campus facilities, and foster the kind of innovation that has been the hallmark of Berklee's success for 63 years.

I am pleased to report that as of press time, we have raised more than $28 million. Everyone can take part in this campaign through financial and other kinds of support. We have been fortunate to receive some generous contributions from friends of the college who never studied here and are not professional musicians. They simply understand the value of helping young people receive a music education. Many of these friends became involved with the campaign after an introduction to the college. Opening the doors of the Berklee community to such individuals is an important component of our campaign.

The growing number of Berklee alumni contributing to the college is an important factor for major donors and foundations as they consider giving. The amounts of the gifts given by alumni are not as important as the fact that an increasing number of alumni are giving back to their alma mater. Over the past three years, we've been pleased to see a 165 percent increase in the number of alumni making donations. To encourage generosity among our alumni, Ernie Boch Jr. '82 has challenged and will continue to challenge alumni to support the college at whatever level they can. Similarly, major alumni donors are impressed when they hear about the financial support of faculty and staff members. We are pleased that, over the past three years, giving by our faculty and staff has increased by 86 percent.

Parents too have given above and beyond their annual tuition bills. In fact, they have been some of our most generous donors to scholarship funds, including the Berklee Fund. I believe this outpouring stems from the fact that parents see the passion their sons and daughters have for music and understand the role the college is playing in helping them focus that drive.

The Giant Steps goals for increasing scholarships, expanding facilities, and fostering innovation will directly affect tomorrow's musicians. Offering your financial support and introducing the college to others who can join with us to strengthen the Berklee experience will ensure the success of Giant Steps.