Boston-based indie-roots band Dispatch has a compelling question for their fans: What if every concert was a "benefit concert?"And what if a "benefit concert" meant more than just donating money?
For the past several years, Dispatch's Amplifying Education program offers fans free admission to their shows and transportation on the tour bus with the band, if they volunteer to participate in service projects in each stop along the way. The goal? Educate their fans, and help disadvantaged children and teenagers.
According to the Amplifying Education website:
Through DISPATCH’s last three tours, Amplifying Education has engaged over 750 fan volunteers in nearly 8,000 hours of service to improve schools across North America and Europe; collected over 12,000 book donations to support local literacy programs through Better World Books; and raised nearly $300,000 through a portion of ticket sales, benefit shows, and fan-to-fan outreach shows to support local organizations like City Year Denver, Teach for America, The Waterside School, and the Crazy Horse School on Pine Ridge Native American Reservation.
Now, for the first time, this volunteer tour has been captured on video for the TakePart TV show Dispatch: Turning The Tide.
The show, which highlights three service projects, makes its first stop at Denver's Florence Crittenton School, a four year high school for young women who have become pregnant or are actively parenting children. The volunteers cleaned out school facilities and added a raised flower bed for school beautification.
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For the second episode, Dispatch and the volunteers visited Wounded Knee School on the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Native American Reservation in South Dakota. Doug Cone, a volunteer from Bridgewater, Mass., was especially struck by the poverty level in Pine Ridge.
"I had no expectations going in, and it just blew me away how different their lifestyle is than mine," he said. In conjunction with Love Light & Melody, the volunteers painted the school and playground, and Dispatch even did a music workshop with the kids.
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In Minneapolis, the group visited Maxfield Magnet School of Academic Excellence, and joined students on the playground at recess. The school works with nonprofit group Playworks to foster safe and meaningful physical activity for their students.
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Click the Take Action button above to see how you can make a difference at schools in your area, or contact any of the organizations featured on Dispatch: Turning The Tide to get involved. Don't forget to watch the full series Dispatch: Turning The Tide along with bonus footage on TakePart TV.
Jonathan Harris is Participant Media's Director of Digital Social Action. He previously managed online campaigns for the Participant films Waiting For "Superman," The Help and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. See him try to be funny on Twitter @countrycaravan.