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DJ Irie x Meryll Lynch

DJ Irie and Jeff Ransdell, managing director and market executive for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, visited the Irie Foundation Allapattah Music and Literacy Center on Thursday, July 9, where they received a welcoming presentation from some of the students of the establishment.

Ransdell, who is in charge of Merrill Lynch’s Wealth Management for the Southeast, Latin America and the Caribbean, met Irie during his birthday in 2014. Now, Merrill Lynch is a financial supporter of the Irie foundation and of their beliefs regarding music’s ability to attract kids from the streets and keep them off.

“I’m proud of what these guys are doing and the difference that they are making in the community,” said Ransdell, who on behalf of Merrill Lynch, donated instruments to the foundation as well as a van which was wrapped by artist Romero Britto. “It’s not just about the music. What I get excited about it that these kids are coming, and yeah there’s a lot of education around music and art, but it’s that discipline and that focus and that place to go after school. It’s the creativity side of things, and you never know what’s gonna happen. I think it’s more than just music.”

The Irie Foundation Allapattah Music and Literacy Center, located at 3323 NW 17 Avenue, operated by The Motivational Edge, is focused on attracting and motivating “at-risk” youth, especially those who have musical and artistic abilities. The foundation offers various music-oriented programs that help kids develop their musical abilities and therefore stay distracted from things like dysfunctional homes or street dangers.

The Motivational Edge has a staff of artists and educators who motivate, mentor and communicate with the kids regularly. They help them with both musical, at home and school-related challenges by offering advice and reminding them that they too are a family.

“A lot of times the kids, they might be quiet, they might be timid but the more time, the more they get comfortable with you, with each other, with the studio, the floodgates just open up; they’ll be more open with sharing something about their life,” said Christian Medina, 24 who teaches and helps the students with conceptualizing songs, writing songs, preparations for performances and showcases.

Thursday’s performance included poetry, free-style lyrical expression, singing, dancing and a lot of laughter and smiles.

Irie, known for being the Miami Heat’s disk jockey, remembers his childhood as growing up in a musical family, where music was a huge influence at a young age.

“I certainly want kids to have that opportunity from an early age, because you have to be exposed to different things to know what you’re really passionate about,” said Irie, who believes that time is the most important resource, and Merrill Lynch contributes to the foundation greatly by making it a priority. “Their support expands beyond this as well. His [Ransdell] team, not only have they been extremely supportive on a level of resources, but these are people that actually come out and speak to the kids and share their stories and share what motivates them to work hard and be successful, and they make themselves available for the kids to see what they do and understand what they do, and to me that’s the true definition of this partnership.