Guitars over Guns (GOGO) is a mentorship program that Chad Bernstein founded to help keep kids off the street and in school. The organization promotes music as an alternative to violence.

Musician Chad Bernstein and his father, Bob, founded GOGO in 2008. The organization helped more than 240 middle and high school students stay in school, reducing dropout rates.

Students work with professional musicians exhibiting the organization’s “three pillars: mentoring, instrument instruction, and ensemble training.”

The program began in Miami and now has a chapter in Chicago. A professional musician himself, Bernstein started GOGO “to use music as a tool to help transcend the cultural, religious, and social barriers.”

GOGO teaches students how to play a number of instruments, including guitar, trumpet and keyboard. The children also learn skills toward music production. Mentors help students one-on-one throughout the school year. At the end of the year, students have an opportunity to perform in a student concert.

The organization encourages students to use music to combat negative emotions.

“It is so apparent that they feel like they have found something they can identify themselves through, the arts and music,” Bernstein said. “And a sense of belonging and ownership goes a really long way in making these kids leaders who have the confidence to make the right choice.”

 

Katrina Aman is an aspiring journalist who desires to be a person of positive influence. Particularly passionate about poverty alleviation and civil rights, she hopes her writing takes her where she can improve lives.