Anything that lasts 30 year is special. Whether it be a friendship, a marriage, a career when something hits that three decade mark one can assume it was meant to last.
Zumix is no different and is indeed special to thousands in East Boston.
The neighborhood’s beloved music and performing arts program, which started as a humble organization inside a living room on Meridian Street and grew into a nationally recognized program, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary milestone in style during a gala at the City Winery downtown.
“The team of people who have been involved for 30 years alongside me, helping to make Zumix a safe place for young people, a place where young people can express themselves freely, where they can come and be their full selves–I get goosebumps every time I think about it, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past 30 years,” said Director and Co-Founder Madeleine Steczynski at the gala.
Like a lot of good ideas, Zumix started in someone’s living room. Co-Founders Bob Grove and Steczynski founded Zumix in 1991 as a response to Boston’s worst wave of youth violence. Zumix began as a summer songwriting program with 24 youth, $200, and the simple idea that giving youth something to be passionate about could transform lives and elevate communities.
After gaining a following and moving its operation to the corner of Maverick and Frankfort Streets, Zumix won a city bid to transform the aging former firehouse on Sumner Street into its new headquarters back in the mid-2000s.
Today, Zumix serves over 1,000 youth per year through after-school and summer programming and 500 through in-school partnerships. Over 10,000 additional adults, children, and families attend its community events and festivals.
In the past 30 years Zumix has received national recognition and received a National Endowment for the Arts from the Obama Administration, performed alongside Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Sting has been the beneficiary of grant money from Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation.
Zumix’s mission for the past three decades has been to empower young people to build successful futures for themselves – transforming lives and the community through music, technology, and creative employment.
Zumix works with young people ages 7-18 through free and low-cost programs that are offered out-of-school in instrumental music, songwriting, performance, radio, audio engineering, and audio and video storytelling. Zumix also partners with three local schools – the Bradley Elementary, East Boston High School, and the McKay K-8 – to bring more arts education opportunities to Boston’s youth.
In 2011 they received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Michelle Obama in the White House, the highest honor our country has for youth arts programs.
Over the summer Zumix Radio celebrated five years on the airwaves. Zumix Radio is a community radio station broadcasting the voices and culture of Boston’s youth through music, stories, and bilingual conversation. After streaming online for a decade, Zumix Radio began broadcasting as a low power FM station 24 hours daily in 2016. Currently 25 youth and 20 adults produce and host weekly shows featuring a variety of programming including talk radio and music.