Newark, NJ—It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes corporate social responsibility to put children through the Newark Boys Chorus School.
Founded in 1969, the school provides a rigorous academic curriculum and a comprehensive, performance-based music program that includes a diversified repertoire of classical music, spirituals, folk music and jazz for students in grades six through eight.
Students regularly perform at world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the White House and cathedrals throughout Europe.
But those experiences would not be possible if not for the generosity of a variety of corporate sponsors, such as Prudential, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Becker LLC and others, all members of Lawyers Leading the Way—a network of law firms and corporate legal departments throughout Newark and beyond who have helped support the school's mission of academic and musical excellence.
Members of Lawyers Leading the Way have helped NBCS with this mission for close to a decade, with their commitment to the school recently celebrated at the 8th Annual Lawyers Leading the Way breakfast, a fundraising event for the school held last week at Newark’s Robert Treat Hotel.
The hotel’s Crystal Ballroom was filled to capacity as the NCBS Concert Chorus belted out selections from its vast musical repertoire, including a Four Seasons medley, Sarah Vaughn and Whitney Houston selections and a “Newark 350” medley, all led by NBCS Music Director Donald Morris.
Event keynote speaker Timothy Harris, executive vice president and general counsel of Prudential Financial, noted the company's commitment to the school, its strong ties to the city and its pride in the new Prudential Tower—an all-glass 20-story building constructed in 2015.
Prudential has partnered in a variety of projects throughout Newark, including the transformation of Military Park, hotels and several mixed use developments including Hahne’s, Teachers Village and One Theater Square.
NBCS Head of School Richard Willett lauded those who continue to support the school’s mission.
“They are a part of what we are and what we do,” Willett said.
The school stopped charging tuition last year, according to Willett.
“These kids come from poverty,” he said, noting that one student is currently homeless. “Most of these kids have not been out of Newark, let alone out of New Jersey or on an airplane.”
Once they get to the school, however, their passports quickly fill up.
Students have traveled to 17 countries on five continents, with the boys having just returned from a singing engagement in southern Vermont and readying for performances in Atlanta, Baltimore and Arizona.
The school is small—just 40 boys make up the school.
“The smallness is one of our blessings,” Willett said. “Everything is individualized for the kids. They get targeted instruction.”
Each student is supplied with their own iPad and studies continue while the boys are on tour, with six hotspots on the tour bus so students can access their lessons while in transit.
In September, NCBS partnered with Horizon on a state-of-the-art Tech Hub Lab, equipped with Apple Mac computers and Chromecast media-streaming devices, all provided by Horizon.
Roughly 30 Horizon employees invested their time to the project and personally donated many of the needed materials to complete the lab.
"We all have a commitment to ensuring the school's success," Willett said. "Success for the students won't stop at the door. When they finish, they will become the great men we expect them to be."