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Yes I Can students seek Summer Meltdown sponsors

Latest fundraiser at Saugus Chronic Tacos re-opening

Posted: January 22, 2009 1:23 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2009 1:06 p.m.

Former Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins was a featured performer at Yes I Can's fifth annual Summer Meltdown festival on May 10, 2008.

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Student concert promoters from the Hart district's Yes I Can social-inclusion program have put out the call for sponsors to help fund the students' sixth annual "Summer Meltdown Autism Awareness and Social-Inclusion Concert."

"We need the support of the community, because we're doing something groundbreaking here - using music to break down social barriers," said Bret Lieberman, Yes I Can program advisor at Golden Valley High School. "We're like the ‘School of Rock' meets concert production meets autism awareness."

Set for May 16 in the 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater at Golden Valley High School, this year's all-day, all-ages music festival will stage around a dozen bands.

The fifth Summer Meltdown last May, a near-sellout, was headlined by the band Trapt and drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction, and featured nearly a dozen popular local bands including The Craze, un:armed and Renfue.

Each year, the students book a diverse lineup of area favorites and special guest headliners who exemplify Yes I Can's slogan, "Unity through music and education."

"The Yes I Can program combines students with special needs, possessing a wide spectrum of disorders, with general-education mentors," Lieberman said.

"The majority of the students with special needs have a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome.
Although often gifted academically, their major area of deficit is their ability to socialize and communicate with peers," he said.

The process of producing the concert takes most of the school year, and provides the students and mentors many opportunities to improve their social interaction skills and build self-esteem as they work with others to achieve an ambitious common goal none could do alone.

"It's essential to provide these students the opportunity to challenge themselves to work together, and practice the techniques they've been taught through the program," Lieberman said.

Lieberman, 30, and his brother Kevin, 27, a TLC assistant at Hart High School and a former Yes I Can program coordinator at Golden Valley, are also principals in local music promotion/management company Higher Level Productions. The brothers are able to provide the students professional as well as academic and social guidance and encouragement.

As they have the past five years, the Yes I Can students underwrite the concert through tax-deductible corporate donations and local fundraising events throughout the spring semester.

Past sponsors and donors include KROQ-FM 106.7, Fender Guitars, VH1, Remo Drums, DW drums, Volcom, Andy Gump, AV Party Rentals, The Michael Milken Family Foundation, Wilbur Curtis Beverages, NLA, and The Signal and The-Signal.com.

Lieberman said the students are off to a good start lining up talent, sponsors and raising funds for the upcoming festival, but they still have a way to go.

He estimated the cost to produce last year's Summer Meltdown was about $25,000; this year, their goal is to raise $40,000, so the students have the budget to afford to book even bigger headliners than before.

"We are looking for sponsorships from anyone or any company who wants to be involved in this amazing event," he said. "We need to raise more funds to pay for rental of professional sound, lighting systems, generators, barricades, food for the performers and guests, and the posters and flyers we produce to promote the concert."

Yes I Can students provide sponsors a tax identification number for tax-deduction purposes, and list sponsors on all Summer Meltdown event flyers, posters, ads and other printed materials, Lieberman said.

Vendor booth spaces are also available. See the contact info in "Related Content" above.

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