Alpha Institute – Press Release

AFJ facilitates IRIE Foundation grant to Alpha Institute Music Program in Jamaica

New York, NY (March 22, 2017) The Irie Foundation is pleased to announce its international support of the construction of a state-of-the-art DJ program in Kingston. Partnering with the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) and the Alpha Institute, Irie Foundation will continue to fulfill its mission by empowering at-risk youth to lead productive lives in Kingston, Jamaica. The DJ program will begin in the third school term of the current academic year. Music technology students at Alpha will receive intensive training in the deejay trade while all music students will benefit from practical and theoretical applications of the skills involved and opportunities for employment.

Alpha boys in studio

“I am thrilled to be able to contribute to the development of culture and youth, particularly the most vulnerable,” said Irie Foundation founder and CEO, Ian ‘DJ Irie’ Grocher. “We have had a lot of success with the program with youth in South Florida and the time is right to take what we have learned to Jamaica”.

A significant number of distinguished Jamaican musicians have traced their created roots to Alpha. Jazz innovators Dizzy Reece and Joe Harriott, ska pioneers Don Drummond and Lester Sterling, rocksteady creator Tommy McCook and reggae icons Leroy Smart and Winston Foster all trace their roots to Alpha. In the 21st century music marketplace, the deejay trade is a critical component of the performance of music through radio and live performance. In this employment environment, the DJ- program sponsored by the Irie Foundation at Alpha will compliment and complete Alpha’s 4-step music technology curriculum which currently consists of live mixing, introduction to audio engineering and techniques in radio broadcasting.

Grounded in music theory and practical experience, the Alpha deejay curriculum will leverage best practices in music education in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the competencies and vocational standards expected in Jamaica and around the world. Irie Foundation support will also underwrite the improvement of spaces for music students and literacy education.

“This is a special opportunity for our students and our school to partner with professionals in the music industry to develop capacity in one of the most dynamic areas of the music industry,” said Sister Susan Frazer, Executive Director of Alpha Institute. DJ training is also relevant to the Jamaican experience and employment landscape, says Alpha’s Music Director, Andre Adman, “Deejaying is familiar to our students which is a benefit. Since our students have practical and theory music experience, deejay training will encourage creativity in exciting and relevant ways.”

Alpha’s musical legacy is connected to disc jockey culture through the late Sister Ignatius who purchased the Mutt & Jeff sound system in order to play music for Alpha residents. At least one past music student, Ilawi, who was a session drummer in Kingston and selector for Jah Love Sound System, created a career from his training on turntables. Jamaica’s disc jockey culture has also had a profound impact on world music through Clive Campbell. Newly arrived in New York from Jamaica with his parents in the 70s, Campbell’s use of the turntables helped create the hip hop genre.

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The Alpha Institute (formerly Alpha Boys School) is a vocational school for unattached youth 15-20 years old who reside in Kingston’s inner city communities and are not part of the mainstream educational system. Students are admitted based on need and receive individual educational, vocational and social support. The Alpha program also seeks to empower the student’s families by creating a seamless transition from school to work. In addition to music, trade training at Alpha include barbering, landscaping, woodwork and screen printing.

The Irie Foundation works year round to improve and create a positive impact on the lives of South Florida’s at-risk youth. Through a number of proactive initiatives, The Foundation is committed to helping kids get on the right track and strive for successful futures. The Foundation, which is supported by remarkable sponsors and partners, also hosts numerous fundraising events, including the annual Irie Weekend, one of South Florida’s most highly anticipated events of the year. All proceeds go toward Foundation programming, as well as to benefit a number of other local and national non-profit organizations.

About the American Friends of Jamaica, Inc.

Founded in 1982, the American Friends of Jamaica is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization built on the principles of service and philanthropy. The AFJ works with a broad coalition of Jamaican organizations and stakeholders to bring about change in the lives of Jamaicans in need. Since its inception, the AFJ has donated millions to Jamaican charities focused in the areas of education, healthcare and economic development. In addition to fundraising through annual gala events, the AFJ has a comprehensive strategy to facilitate individual giving and partnerships with corporations and foundations.


Caron S. Chung, Executive Director • The American Friends of Jamaica, Inc.•1697 Broadway, Suite 502, New York, NY 10019 •T 212-265-2550 • E or