Home / Mission

To ignite the power of jazz arts education and transform lives by fostering self-expression, leadership, collaboration and diversity.

Jazz Power Initiative (or JPI, formerly Jazz Drama Program) was founded in 2003 as a 501(c)3 non-profit by jazz musician/educator Eli Yamin and teacher/writer Clifford Carlson to get youth involved in and excited about jazz.

Our programs blast apart elitist notions of jazz at the margins of American culture and place it at the heart of American life.

Pioneered by African Americans and loved throughout the world, jazz offers invaluable lessons in self-expression, leadership, cooperation, out-of-the-box thinking, trust, compassion and mindfulness. We have seen how nurturing these values in our youth inspires performance in every aspect of life.

Our jazz education programs include music, movement and storytelling.  It’s a wholistic approach that marries tradition and innovation, creating relevance with a new age audience. Participants include students, teachers, managers and leaders in business and government.

Our deliverables range from youth-based jazz musicals with socially relevant themes to teacher training through our Summer Jazz Arts Institute, to our Syncopated Leadership workshops for corporate team-building.

Annually, our programs directly reach over 300 K-12 students, teachers and 300 business students and professionals. We reach 90 more students and teachers internationally. Indirect audiences for our live performances and online are over 10,000.


Since inception, JPI musicals have seen over 80 performances in fourteen states and five countries, involving thousands of young people and their families in sustained exposure and involvement in the jazz arts. JPI’s three published musicals are:

Nora’s Ark, about overcoming social dogma to work together to solve environmental crisis. Available in English, Polish and Serbo-Croatian.

Holding the Torch For Liberty, the fight for women’s suffrage. English only.

Message From Saturn, a space odyssey about the healing power of the blues. Available in English, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

The 2016-2017 season featured three productions of Message From Saturn in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Podgorica, Montenegro and at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.


Since 2013, our New York-based youth programs serve 200 students annually including providing 500 hours of arts instruction for free to low income families.


Summer Jazz Arts Institute for teaching artists currently trains over 100 teaching artists locally, nationally and internationally through ongoing partnerships with Lehman and LaGuardia Colleges at City University of New York, as well as the Muse Machine in Dayton, Ohio and the U.S. Department of State.

Syncopated Leadership reaches hundreds of executives each year from Fortune 500 companies to Entrepreneurial Start-ups.


Our newest program for senior citizens offered 60 hours of direct instruction and performance to over 50 seniors this past spring at Lincoln Square and Marble Hill Community Centers in Manhattan.

The Power of Jazz IS the power to transform. Welcome to the Jazz Power Initiative.