Mission

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. 

Led by JPI’s team of experienced and skilled artists, creative and collaborative voice, dance and theatre workshops and performances, allow hundreds of youth, seniors, and teachers to be immersed in the rich cultural traditions of jazz each year. Annually, JPI’s programs in working class neighborhoods of Washington Heights. Harlem and the Bronx serve over 100 middle and high school students, 50 seniors, 25 teachers and thousands more in performance and online.

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 wholistic approach marries tradition and innovation, creating relevance with a new age audience.

Recently we started our first scholarship private lessons giving eight students eight voice and piano lessons, supporting their preparation for high school and college and making sure jazz helps them be successful and find their way to a good life. We also produce a monthly series at National Jazz Museum in Harlem called Intergenerational Jazz Jam, which brings together singers, musicians, dancers, spoken word artists and audiences off all ages to experience the power of jazz, community and swing!

In addition, we train teachers in teaching jazz across the curriculum at our Summer Jazz Arts Institute in NYC (at Lehman College, City University of New York, since 2015).

These programs are supported by grants from The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, The Hispanic Federation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, The MVRP Foundation, The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and individuals like you.

For earned income, we offer program design and professional development for Muse Machine in Dayton, Ohio where we designed a facilitated two, four-day Institutes for classroom teachers, as well as leadership training through jazz immersion in collaboration with Fordham Graduate School of Business, Jazz at Lincoln Center and The National Urban League.

JPI deliverables range from need and dedication-based scholarship private voice and keyboard lessons to group movement and theatrical training, public performances and the creation of youth-based jazz musicals with socially relevant themes. To date, JPI musicals have been performed in four languages in 85 performances in fourteen states and five countries, involving thousands of young people and their families in sustained exposure and involvement in the jazz arts.

Jazz Power Initiative is committed to promoting the humanitarian values of jazz and giving jazz artists including musicians, singers, dancers, actors and storytellers, meaningful platforms to create, share their knowledge and artistry, and pass it on.