Beyond the Grade gives low-income students in Austin, Texas, access to music lessons they might not otherwise be able to afford through an after-school program at elementary, middle, and high schools. Kids take classes like Rock Band, Drum Kit, and Guitar from local musicians.
Mark Turk started the program in 2014 after having spent much of his life studying and performing music and music engineering.
One Paredes' Middle School student said of the program “It gives me a way, besides the Paredes band, to actually put my feelings out in music. Cause I’m always feeling sad, and playing music makes me happy. That’s why it’s important to me.”
Turk first met with his mentor in August 2014. He was looking for help choosing between the part time job that he had with some potential growth, or developing a business plan of his own. It was a meeting with SCORE mentor Craig Bentson that helped convince Turk to strike out on his own rather than working full time for someone else. “At the meeting we decided that having my fate in my own hands was the better choice.”
Now the biggest challenge now for Turk is time management. There’s a lot to do between operations and development, and trying to give both areas the time they deserve is challenging. For the next school year, they will be hiring an operations manager to help manage the demands.
Beyond the Grade now has 15 part time teachers working at 20 different schools. The program has received several grants from the city of Austin and the state of Texas.
Turk recommends that business owners and potential business owners bring their SCORE mentor a list of specific questions and as much information about the business as possible.