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How the Amped Kids Foundation intends to turn up the volume with new nonprofit status
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Amped Kids partners with music lesson locations and private music instructors to offer free music lessons to foster kids. Recently, Amped Kids became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The program covers the cost of the musical instrument, lessons and instruction materials. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Amped Kids Foundation is ready to turn up the volume as a 501(c)(3) organization.

Before, the nonprofit operated under the umbrella of the Georgia Community Foundation — now Amped Kids is its own entity. 

“We’re crazy excited about moving forward with the 501(c)(3) and all the new opportunities that will hold for us,” April Rooks, the organization’s founder, said. “We are now going to be able to have more opportunities to serve more children.”

Through the financial support of local community members and organization partnerships, the nonprofit has offered free music lessons, studio tours and school band scholarships to kids in foster care. Amped Kids has 43 enrolled foster children and teenagers and has served the Hall County area for more than a year.

With the new 501(c)(3)status, Rooks said Amped Kids can now apply for grants through other foundations and open its doors to corporate sponsorships. The nonprofit can also offer tax deductions for instrument donations.

In 2019, Rooks said she had the goal of enrolling at least 20 foster children in the organization. She quickly surpassed those expectations and has now set a new goal of getting 100 new participants for 2020. 

This year, she also plans to launch the nonprofit’s music therapy program, which will begin on Feb. 6, at Heart Song LLC, a music school in Gainesville. 

“We wanted to offer music therapy because there are children who may not be interested in learning an instrument or may not be musically inclined, but we know that music will benefit them,” Rooks said. “Just listening to music or participating can help children express their emotions and bond with their foster families.”

Other additions coming to Amped Kids in 2020 include songwriting workshops with the John Jarrard Foundation, a local nonprofit founded in memory of a local songwriter and that uses concerts to raise funds for various charities; a retreat at Camp Southern Ground, which was founded by country singer Zac Brown; live musical performances; and a talent show. 

On Saturday, Feb. 22, kids enrolled at the nonprofit will perform at the Smoky Springs retirement community in Gainesville. Later this year, the organization will hold a talent show, which will provide scholarships to winners and free musical instruments to other participants.  

“This will be an incentive for foster children to continue their education after high school,” Rooks said. “One of our core values is that we understand that primary education and music education go hand-in-hand. We know there’s a higher graduation rate for children involved in musical studies than children who are not.”

Rooks recently self-published her first book, “Only Love Can Do That,” in which she shares stories of perseverance, including her own.

She writes about her trauma and the pain of living in a dysfunctional family. 

Through all of her struggles, Rooks still found a path toward healing and forgiveness. 

“That journey has led me to where I am, and now I can turn around and say, ‘I can see your pain as a foster child or anyone who is hurting. I can see where you’re at and walk with you through that journey.’”

She is giving 20% of the book proceeds to Amped Kids.

“One small act of kindness or love can make a positive effect or change in another person,” Rooks said. “And that’s what we’re doing with Amped Kids. We’re about impacting the child in hopes of changing the trajectory of their life.”

Rooks’ first book signing is from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Next Chapter Bookstore on the square. “Only Love Can Do That” is available at Amazon.com.

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