Refining the raw talents of young people by providing the tools, mentors, and community to help individuals from marginalized communities find success—and define it on their own terms—is the mission of The Remix Project.
Created to level the playing field, the non-profit provides programs, services, facilitators, and facilities to underprivileged and underserved youth trying to enter the creative industry. Through this project, youth who feel disengaged or forgotten by the system, are provided the opportunity to flourish in a community of driven, talented creatives who want to find success and work towards a better future. Through education and mentoring, the program aims to create a safe space for these individuals to experiment and explore their creativity. By fostering this community of like-minded creatives, students are able to refocus and forge relationships and collaborations.
“There is so much to a young person’s creativity,” says Annalie Bonda, the Executive Director. “When you’re able to nurture that and give them the resources and the platform, the talent thrives. When you remove the barrier to access—the first one being financial—you let that creativity live and it just explodes. When you add the contribution of a community and a network of people who come together to thrive together, then even more is made from that.”
Co-Founders Derek ‘Drex’ Jancar, Gavin Sheppard and Kehinde Bah built the foundation of The Remix Project on a team of talented people from different communities with different perspectives. The team, who each bring in their personal experience and expertise, is what makes Remix thrive and sets it apart from other forms of education.
Annalie, who started with The Remix Project as an instructor and mentor, outlines that one of the most important criteria for their mentors to have is that firsthand experience in the industry. She outlines that the essential aspect in making the mentor program work is by “making sure the youth have the ability to look up to someone and shadow someone that’s working in the field their trying to pursue.” To ensure program success and thoughtful impact, the mentors selected are all current and relevant industry professionals. Through working one-on-one with the students, these professionals are able to build rapport. “Being a mentor entails developing both a personal relationship and professional relationship with their mentee, almost walking them through the early steps of career development.” By sharing their stories, providing thoughtful feedback, and ultimately aiding in the building of a career plan, the mentor provides valuable discourse and encouragement, becoming someone the student can turn to for advice, even after they graduate from the program.
Drake’s first two mixtapes, Comeback Season and So Far Gone, were recorded at Remix with one of the original staffers, Noah “40” Shebib. 40 was the Director of the Recording Arts Program and the engineer in the studio, working with Drake after hours to create these original albums. Remix was also the hub where Drake met his business manager Adel Nur, known as Future the Prince. Adel was a student at The Remix Project and started as Drake’s tour DJ. Both continue to be champions of Remix, contributing and donating to the program, while also turning to the roster of talented individuals who have graduated from Remix when they are looking to hire for their team. Singer Jessie Reyez and Producer Wondagurl are a couple of the many incredible artists that came up through the program.
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Thank you Mayor Lightfoot @ChicagosMayor and Mayor @johntory for your visit! We are grateful to your efforts in both our cities; supporting youth in music, arts & culture to thrive in safe spaces. #CommunityOverEverything #Chicago #Toronto #SisterCities #Repost @johntory • • • • • With locations in Toronto & Chicago, it was great touring @TheRemixProject with @ChicagosMayor. @TheRemixProject does important work building up communities & the next generation of creative talent by empowering young people through access to art programming & creative space.
“We directly impact a cohort of approximately 50,” details Annalie. “There are eight hundred plus applicants each round and we interview everyone. It’s important that it’s a level playing field in that regard and we want to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to pitch themselves. Everyone must come to the table with their own original pieces of work. Beyond that, we must look into what the landscape looks like in general and assess what’s needed. We also need to look at whether the person needs the program. Each participant accepted into the program goes through nine months of intensive programming that includes mentorship, life skills training, and technical skills training—all of which is free. The impact itself is deep—and when you’re talking about it being on a young person’s life, it’s heavily felt. Beyond that, our alumni have deeply impacted not just the arts, but business ventures across the country.”
During a students’ tenure at The Remix Project, they are working towards one of three Exit Strategies: Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship. Remix strives to ensure each student leaves Remix on the right path with the tools—and connections—necessary for success.