Berklee Online Offers Courses to Students in Juvenile Justice Centers

To date, Berklee Online classes are offered at nearly 30 such centers across the United States.

July 5, 2024

Through a program that launched in 2021, Berklee Online has offered more than 80 scholarships to students in juvenile justice centers across the U.S., providing them the opportunity to earn college credit through music courses taught remotely by Berklee professors. 

“Berklee Online has a responsibility to make music education an empowering and enriching journey for everyone, yet students who have experienced the juvenile justice system have unique perspectives that often lead to a complete mistrust or disinterest in formal learning,” says Michael Moyes, chief operating officer and associate vice president of enrollment strategy at Berklee Online. “I believe music is the right language to get these students excited about learning and to show them they are capable of amazing things.” 

“I made a song about my friend that passed away and it was deeper than I would think.

— Mekhi C., Berklee Online student in Massachusetts DYS program

To date, Berklee Online courses are offered at nearly 30 juvenile justice agencies across the U.S. The majority of the partnership agencies are run by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS), but there are also partnerships with agencies in California, Texas, and Missouri. Courses that have been offered include Music Foundations, Developing Your Artistry, Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice, Music Production Fundamentals, and Music Production Analysis. 

Sean Slade—a Berklee Online instructor who’s worked with Radiohead, Hole, and Lou Reed—taught Music Production Analysis through this initiative last fall. He adapted the curriculum to focus on hip-hop and rap, as well as concepts like prosody and groove. 

“It really touched me that the students were very, very appreciative, and they let me know at the end of the class that they really enjoyed hanging out with the old man once a week to listen to music and to get some insights into how it was made,” says Slade. 

One of those students was Mekhi C., who was in a Massachusetts DYS program. The two Berklee Online courses he took taught him how to use songwriting to process some of his hardships. 

“I made a song about my friend that passed away and it was deeper than I would think. It showed me not only just the aspects of myself, but it showed me how influential music is in my life,” he says. 

Moyes says he would like to expand course offerings and to make Berklee Online courses available at more juvenile justice agencies. “Success would be seeing students use the power of music as a launchpad to ignite a passion for learning,” he says. 

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