Connector

Rainah Berlowitz

Rainah Berlowitz currently serves as Director of Finance and Business Operations for Education Through Music, Inc. (ETM), a not-for-profit where he has worked since 1997 to help under-resourced schools to provide music as a core subject for all children. He received an A.B. in English from Princeton University and came to ETM in 1997 through the Princeton AlumniCorps’ Project 55 Fellowship Program. He continues to volunteer with Alumnicorps as a member of its New York Fellowship committee, helping plan and provide seminars on social impact and leadership development to current Fellows placed in a variety of New York area nonprofits. Rainah also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Giving Opportunities To Others, Inc. (GOTO), a not-for-profit founded in 2001 that cultivates young professional leaders who organize other volunteers and supporters in raising money to send under-served NYC youth to summer arts camp on scholarship. In Fall 2011, he completed executive leadership training as a participant in the New York Arts & Business Council’s Arts Leadership Institute. In 2012, he was one of twelve nonprofit professionals from the U.S. and overseas selected to participate in the American Express Foundation/Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders. Rainah also plays guitar, studies chess, and collects board games.

Describe the Impact of a Project you’re focused on.

Schools in low-income areas of NYC are twice as likely as schools in high-income areas to have zero classrooms dedicated to music education, according to the 2016-2017 Arts in Schools Report published by the Center for New York City. This is despite the fact that music has been recognized by many authorities, including the U.S. Congress, as an essential component of a well-rounded education for all children. Over the past 28 years Education Through Music (ETM) has been able to help numerous under-served and under-resourced schools, serving tens of thousands of New York City children collectively, to provide music as a core subject and to maintain their programs independently. Based on that success, we undertook years-long studies, facilitated by external experts Public Equity Group and Morgan Stanley, to assess the potential of our program model and organization to help other cities and locales in the U.S. experiencing similar challenges. After reviewing the data, the experts recommended we proactively pursue national expansion and our Board voted unanimously to move forward on it, so right now I’m focused on developing new ETM affiliate organizations in other parts of the U.S. We have an affiliate in Los Angeles that was founded in 2006, and we launched a new chapter in Colorado (ETM-Colorado) in August 2019. We’ve set a goal to launch at least one more chapter in calendar 2020. Eventually, when we have a critical mass of chapters, we envision creating a separate national 501(c)3. If we succeed, we could improve educational opportunity for tens or even hundreds of thousands of children across the U.S.

What results do you hope for when the impact is amplified?

We’re doing our best to network to build the relationships and gather the information we’d need to consider next steps, but it’s been fairly slow-going. Our hope is that we can identify as quickly as possible the cities and school systems that have a need for our program model as well as the local leaders and partners who would manage activities. The publicly available information on music education is often unavailable or inaccurate, and schools can sometimes be reticent to share information about challenges with third parties, even if our goal is to be helpful to them. So having individuals who can learn and observe things first-hand and start to build relationships is even more critical. Prioritizing our limited staff resources is critical, so just building a better map and understanding of where the need is, who the key people are, and what’s going on right now in those areas would be a phenomenal asset.

What do you have to offer as a connector? What can you give as expertise to others?

I have 22 years of experience as a nonprofit management professional with substantial work across functional areas including finance, human resources, leadership training, technology, strategic planning, volunteer management, board development, and fundraising. Along the way I’ve helped navigate challenges posed by organizational growth and declines, crisis and opportunity, in the context of annual budgets ranging from $50K to $7M. In addition to nonprofit and education colleagues, I’ve also been able to make connections with folks in a variety of sectors through volunteering and school ties, mainly in finance, consulting, technology, law, medicine, and the arts.
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