A Bed-Stuy arts academy and HBCU-style marching band need the community’s help to stay open, reports Patch.

The Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts (BALAA) — a non-profit committed to providing enrichment experiences to New York City youth is in urgent need of $12,000 to keep its space on Gates Avenue.

The money, which the academy hopes to raise through an existing GoFundMe, would mean ensuring the space is available for young Brooklynites who lack the resources and support to attend any other program.

“We are more concerned about ensuring that they have a safe space to go and be productive, especially during prime disruptive hours,” Executive Director Jada John of BALAA stated in an email. “We believe that keeping the program free allows us to maximize our reach, and our work is becoming more and more essential as we witness crimes amongst youth in our community rise.”

Launched in 2019, BALAA has expanded to include a number of programs including their wellness program, summer and after-school program, and its Empire Marching Elite Band.

In its last season Empire Marching Elite, has helped a record number of young Brooklynites secure marching band scholarships to historically Black colleges and universities. And  also grew its reach this year when it was named the official pep band for minor league baseball team Brooklyn Cyclones’ 2022 season.

“Although we are a relatively new organization that has spent the greater half of its years surviving a pandemic, we have pretty big goals and aspirations at BALAA,” the GoFundMe reads. “We depend on contributions from the general public and the generosity of people like you to keep our doors open and ensure that operations continue.”

Find the fundraiser here.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at both London City University and Williams College majoring in Political Science, Art History, and Africana Studies.

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