Recognizing two decades of success, utilizing jazz tradition, culture, and the arts
to educate, foster creative self-expression, and build community 

New York, NY (April 10, 2024)…For the past two decades, Jazz Power Initiative (JPI) has been an influential part of the arts education community.  By utilizing the power of jazz music and jazz tradition to educate and transform the lives of young people, the organization has fostered positive self-expression, a sense of community, teamwork, and diversity. On May 15th, at One Vanderbilt Avenue (TD Conference Center), the organization will host Jazz Power Celebration20 in recognition of its numerous accomplishments.

In addition to honoring The Miranda Family – Luis A. Miranda Jr. and Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda; Luz Miranda-Crespo and Luis Crespo; Lin Manuel-Miranda and Vanessa A. Nadal; and Miguel Towns, with the inaugural “Philanthropy Award”- the organization is proud to announce two more honorees, award-winning filmmaker, Phil Bertelsen will receive the “Changemaker Award”, and TD Bank, one of the largest banking institutions in North America will be the recipient of the “Corporate Social Responsibility Award”.   The staunch support of people and organizations over 20 years – including the leadership of those being honored – have helped Jazz Power Initiative to achieve its mission in Northern Manhattan, to now serve thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually – students, teachers, artists, families, and general audiences ages 6-80 and more, to build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, arts education, and performance.

What began as an idea in 1998, thanks to a grant from Meet the Composer/New Music for Schools, in tandem with funding from the Louis Armstrong Education Foundation awarded to acclaimed jazz musician and educator Eli Yamin, the first iteration of the organization was established.  In 2003 it incorporated as The Jazz Drama Program, underwent another evolutionary transition to become a nonprofit organization in 2004, and rebranded in 2017 as Jazz Power Initiative.  This change enabled the organization the opportunity to “broaden its scope and appeal while clarifying its mission”.

In its 20-year existence, under the leadership of a brilliant staff headed by Dr. Eli Yamin, the Managing and Artistic Director – the organization has touched the lives of over 6,000 young people; engaged the knowledge and experience of some 1,000 educators; and cultivated an inclusive audience, of over 100,000, reached through live performance attendance and virtual participation.

Eli Yamin, Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz Power Initiative— “20 years of Jazz Power Initiative is a milestone built in collaboration with brilliant minds and generous hearts — united in one love for jazz and the importance of passing on its treasures to the next generation. We are so grateful to our Celebration20 honorees for all they give to the world and for their guidance and support in building and sustaining Jazz Power Initiative.”

Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker Phil Bertelsen has a long and established history with the Jazz Power Initiative. He served for many years on Jazz Power Initiative’s Board of Directors and produced the JPI Message Video currently on Jazz Power’s homepage, https://jazzpower.org/video/.  Bertelsen’s history with JPI stretches back to the first jazz musical written by Yamin and Carlson in 1998 When Malindy Swings. Bertelsen was there with a film crew on hand to document the beginning of this work of immersing young people in jazz through the captivating combination of jazz and theater. He is currently listed as a member of the Advisory Board.

Mr. Bertelsen’s credits as a producer/director are endless and include documentaries, episodic television, and network dramas that can be seen and streamed on Netflix, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and Viacom, as well as other platforms.

In 2013, Phil Bertelsen received a Peabody Award for his work with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, a six-part documentary series for PBS.  And last year he received an Emmy for this work on The 1619 Project based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times Magazine essay created by Dr. Nikole Hannah-Jones, and the accompanying podcast.

Mr. Bertelsen uses his platform as a filmmaker to go beyond entertaining his audience. Through his work, he hopes to inspire, provoke conversation, and affect change. His Netflix docu-series, Who Killed Malcolm X, led to a reinvestigation of the case, and the exoneration of two wrongly convicted men.  His documentary for Morgan Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment, 761st Tank Battalion: The Original Black Panthers, about “the first Black tank unit to serve in combat during WWII” illuminated the important contributions made by Black soldiers during the war.

Mr. Bertelsen served as one of the Executive Producers and the director on Issa Rae’s 2-part docu-series, “Seen and Heard” for HBO, which cast a light on the history of Black Television and the trailblazers who broke new ground in Black storytelling. Mr. Bertelsen’s body of work could fill several books.  Through his film work, he has helped to unearth truths and hidden figures and served as a source of knowledge about the contributions made by African Americans that have influenced a wide spectrum of global society.

TD Bank is a long-standing supporter of Jazz Power Initiative and its community-focused efforts, which closely align to the bank’s own work to support and create dialogues in arts and culture that reflect diverse voices.

Through their corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment, the bank is helping drive equitable outcomes in diverse communities by focusing on four drives of change – Financial Security, Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities, and Better Health.

“TD Bank is honored to be recognized by the Jazz Power Initiative as we work together to educate and empower our next generation through jazz,” said Ralph Bumbaca, Commercial Market President of New York City, TD Bank.  “Music is an incredibly powerful tool that drives positive change and connects us across our diverse communities and TD is proud to support Jazz Power Initiative’s ongoing efforts to elevate and amplify underrepresented emerging voices throughout the city.”

Funds raised during Jazz Power Celebration20 will help expand the organization’s arts education and performance programs.  For information about JPI and to purchase tickets and sponsorships to Jazz Power Celebration20 as well as tickets to the Rhythm Revue Dance Party, a continuation of the evening’s celebration – visit www.jazzpower.org/celebration20.


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Jazz Power Initiative (JPI, a dba of The Jazz Drama Program), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003, serves thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually – students, teachers, artists, seniors, and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to promote music education, and build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, theater, dance education, and performance.

Press Contact:   Sam Mattingly
SMC Solutions
(917) 331-9375
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