7, 44, 50,000+, 75,000, 800,000+, 2,000,000:
What do these numbers have to do with one of the worlds most recognized and anticipated free concert events? Let's break it down:
7- The number of years legendary concert and event production company I.M.P. has produced the Virgin Mobile Festival in America.
4 -The number of years The Virgin Mobile FreeFest has been bringing heightened attention and tangible results to youth homelessness.
50,000+ - The number of Virgin Mobile FreeFest concert goers mobilized to donate and volunteer to help youth homelessness each year.
75,000+ - The number of hours that concert goers have volunteered.
800,000+ - The total cash donated to date that in part help build the Virgin Mobile RE*Generation House, a transitional living facility for youth in Washington D.C.
2,000,000 - The number of youth between 12-24 experiencing homelessness each year
In 2010 I listed the Virgin Mobile Free Festival as one of the world's "Must Attend Music Festivals" based upon the curator like manner in which I.M.P.'s Seth Hurwitz selects and invites each year's unique artists to combine and create a line up which consistently provides one of the world's most diverse, unique and memorable concert event.
Sky Tonia Ferreira, born July 8, 1992, is an American singer, songwriter, model, and actress. Ferreira's first extended play, As If!, was released digitally on March 22, 2011. Her second EP, Ghost, was released on October 16, 2012 to generally positive reviews. | Photo: Ted Louis |
This year, as 50,000+ fans converge on the Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by Samsung September 21st at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland, I want to share with you the a story about the valuable and tangible work that Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation initiative has done to address youth homelessness. The "RE*Generation mission began in 2006 to empower a generation to help its own by connecting individuals and organizations who want to improve the lives of young people. Virgin Mobile saw youth homelessness as an overlooked problem that may be the result of other societal problems, such as poverty, drug abuse, mental illness, domestic violence and homophobia. Points shared by Virgin Mobile include the fact that foster children who "age" out of the system often become homeless and make up a growing number of the homeless youth population.
More than 2 million youth between the ages of 12 and 24 will experience at least one episode of homelessness each year, and more than 100,000 youth sleep on the street for six months or more in America. Research shows only one in 12 youth access a shelter. The vast majority of homeless youth will experience amplified risk of exposure to physical assault, rape, sexual exploitation, recruitment into gangs and deepening mental illness. "At Virgin Mobile we believe in the collective power and shared responsibility to improve the lives of young people in need," said Felicia Hill-Martin manager-Brand Engagement and Cause Marketing, Virgin Mobile USA. "Together we can make an impact, whether we give our time, voice or resources. These young people deserve a better start and together we can all help." So how has the Virgin Mobile Free Fest made a tangible difference in addressing youth homelessness? "We give music fans a free day of incredible music, and thousands of them have paid the good karma forward by donating to homeless youth. When we started this, we could not have imagined that after four years we'd have 'A House That FreeFest Built,' but here we are'. Now we want to raise enough to keep the house running for years to come. The issue of youth homelessness, which impacts more than 2 million young people in our country, needs our support more than ever."
Let's go back to the numbers:
As a result of the last four Virgin Mobile FreeFests, through Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation program, nearly $800,000 has been raised and nearly 75,000 volunteer hours and 25,000 hygiene kits have been donated. FreeFest fans have funded the development of "The RE*Generation House by Virgin Mobile," a homeless youth shelter run by Sasha Bruce Youthwork in Washington, D.C. Proceeds from the upcoming FreeFest will support staffing and programs for social entrepreneurship and urban agriculture at The RE*Gen House and other Sasha Bruce sites in Washington.
"Homeless youth at Sasha Bruce Youthwork get so many benefits from FreeFest and Virgin Mobile," said Deborah Shore, executive director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork. "The RE*Generation House provides a safe home for youth to grow and prosper and is the foundation of our youth-led entrepreneurial project. Volunteers and welcome kits benefit hundreds of our homeless clients. Virgin Mobile has been brilliant in bringing a creative way of encouraging volunteerism and enhancing public understanding of the needs of homeless youth, and does so by offering the reward of this fabulous festival. This is the concept of RE*Generation at its finest."
Gareth Emery, born July 18, 1980, is an English electronic dance music producer and DJ. Since 2009, he has been ranked in DJ Magazine`s annual Top 100 poll, peaking at #7 in 2010. | Photo: |
Each person who attends the 2013 Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by Samsung is asked to donate at least $10 to help fight youth homelessness. There is also the RE*Generation's "Free I.P." program which allows fans to volunteer several hours of time or donate hygiene kits in exchange for a ticket to Virgin Mobile FreeFest. What is asked of concert goers and fans and what has been achieved truly demonstrates that a small amount goes a long way towards providing for a community of kids in need. As a result of FreeFest donations, Sasha Bruce Youthwork opened the doors to the RE*Generation House.
The 2013 Line Up for Virgin Mobile FreeFest was announced in showman like fashion befitting the style of Sir Richard Branson and I.M.P.'s Seth Hurwitz as Re*Generation House residents and volunteers literally "papered and pasted" the 2013 line up, artist by artist, on the house's 25 foot walls to officially announce the 2013 lineup that includes Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers, Pretty Lights, Robin Thicke, MGMT, Kaskade, City and Colour, Icona Pop, CHVRCHES, The Knocks, Black Joe Lewis, Sky Ferreira and Little Green Cars. The Dance Forest will feature Madeon, Gareth Emery, Washed Out, Manufactured Superstar, Conogorock, TJR and Ghost Beach "This is a proud day for us. This is the house that FreeFest built." said Ron Faris, head of Brand Marketing, Virgin Mobile USA. Faris went on to say "The Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House is a monument that reflects all the tireless volunteer hours and dollars our fans have spent to support youth homelessness."
How cool is it enjoy a brilliant line up of talent for FREE and know that your donations of time money or hygiene kits make a tangible difference in a young person's life'
Kudos to Virgin Mobile and the I.M.P. teams for marrying a Great Concert to Good Karma.
I'll be sharing updates from The 2013 Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by Samsung on Twitter @tedkelly
. Also I'll be dedicating this year's coverage to the memory of Josh Burdette, head of security I.M.P. venues and events including the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. and Virgin Mobile FreeFest.