The Boys' Choir of Tallahassee
BOYS' CHOIR OF TALLAHASSEE TO SERVE AS MODEL FOR NEW L.A. GROUP
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The sounds of success of the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee are reverberating all the way to the West Coast.
The Florida State University School of Social Work and the FSU Research Foundation have signed an agreement with the Iraida Foundation in California to establish the Boys' Choir of Los Angeles. The school will receive up to $100,000 for the project from the Iraida Foundation over the next three years.
Earle Lee, director of the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee, will help hire and train the director of the choir and recruit members. The new choir, to be modeled after the Tallahassee choir, is expected be launched in the fall of 2003.
"People across the country are seeing the success of the program, and it's a great honor to be asked to replicate our boys choir in Los Angeles," Lee said. "It will be a challenge for me personally to start something new with new kids and new families, but it will be exciting."
Roger Clark, an FSU alumnus and president of the Iraida Foundation Board of Directors, said the foundation turned first to FSU when establishing educational issues as its new mission. The foundation previously focused on providing a retreat center for cancer patients.
"The boys choir gives these kids a chance to stay in school, go to college and have happy and productive lives," Clark said. "I believe in Earle Lee's program - it's got the right theme and the right focus. We are confident that, together, we can make it a success in Los Angeles."
It is a tribute to Lee and the choir members that the Iraida Foundation sees the choir as a model, said School of Social Work Dean Bruce Thyer.
"We are delighted that the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee model of prevention service to youth-at-risk, developed at the FSU School of Social Work, will be replicated in Los Angeles," Thyer said. "We are pleased that our faculty member, Earle Lee, will be providing consultation and technical assistance in promoting this new choir."
The grant is the latest of many honors for Lee and the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee since it was founded in 1995 for boys ages 8 to 18 who live in neighborhoods with limited social and economic opportunities.
In July 2002, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush presented Lee with a Point of Light Award for demonstrating exemplary service to the community. He also was recognized by Oprah Winfrey in May 2002 with a $100,000 "Use Your Life Award."
With its spiritual, contemporary and classical repertoire, the choir has received many national awards, including a presidential "Coming Up Taller Award." The choir has performed at the Vatican, the U.S. Capitol and with the rock band Creed.
The purpose of the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee is to foster academic excellence, build character and self-esteem, develop interpersonal skills, realize potential and acquire skills for the future. The boys must attend three practices and three, three-hour study sessions a week to be eligible to perform with the choir. Every graduate of the program has been accepted to college.
The Iraida Foundation of Agoura Hills, Calif., was established in 1989 in memory of Clark's first wife, Iraida, who died of cancer. The foundation provided a retreat center for cancer patients until 2001 when it sold the center.
Clark earned his bachelor's degree in international business relations from FSU in 1975 and a law degree from Rutgers University in 1978. He is a senior partner in the law firm of Clark and Goldberg and specializes in commercial litigation and aviation law.