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Choice Group Inc’s Founder, Dana Hammond and the kids of Choice Group. Named from top left to right: Justin Jackson, Janae Jackson, Aaron Hyde, Justin Joseph and Dijon Hyde. Bottom row: Bryda Criddell, Dillon Frazier, Jamezai Frazier, Alexis Joseph and Jaylyn Joseph.
Choice Group Inc. children with the Founder, Dana Hammond and gospel-singing duo Mary Mary who are on the board. Children’s names from top left to right: Janae Jackson, Justin Jackson, Aaron Hyde, Justin Joseph and Dijon Hyde. Bottom: Bryda Criddell, Dillon Frazier, Jamezai Frazier, Alexis Joseph and Jaylyn Joseph.
Dana Hammond and Grammy-award winning producer, Warryn Campbell.
Choice Group’s Drum Ensemble performing at their first ever fundraising gala held at the Annenberg Beach House. Named from left to right: Dillon Frazier, Bryda Criddell, Jamezai Frazier, Founder Dana Hammond, Dijon Hyde and Aaron Hyde.
Grammy award-winning gospel-singing duo Mary Mary performed at CGI's fundraising gala. The two are on the board for CGI.
Kids who are at-risk are kids who are underexposed. That’s the idea of the nonprofit Choice Group Inc. (CGI) who serves children living in South Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Choice Group gives children resources to music, technology and preparation for any career a child would want to pursue. The nonprofit had their first ever-fundraising gala at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica in December 2012 to celebrate hitting their five-year mark. This mark celebrated an upward progression for the nonprofit.
That progression can be attributed to the persistence, passion and determination of Choice Group’s founder, Dana Hammond over those 5 years that made the mission of the nonprofit become reality. That mission is that “it’s my choice”, a phrase that represents the choice an inner city child has to decide the fate of their lives instead of their environment deciding it for them. That mission was displayed through the children of Choice Group’s Drum Ensemble as they took the stage of Annenberg Beach House to perform, all getting the spotlight for talents that could one day take them even further. The kids took pride in their part of the performance for the fundraising gala, something that CGI encourages to participating children.
The exposure Choice Group kids get would not have been possible without the support of companies who believe in the dreams of those children and the dream of Hammond. The first company to buy into the vision of CGI was Jonathan Weedman, Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo who gave the nonprofit their first grant. Brad Moser, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager for Wells Fargo’s Beverly Hills Main office was honored with the Community Leadership award for his involvement as a Chair member for CGI. Others also joined Choice Group’s mission such as Edison International who received an award for being the Inaugural Gala Fundraiser Sponsor.
Hammond says this was a huge accomplishment. He says his own experiences created his inspiration for starting the non-profit, where he was able to turn a hardship into motivational fuel.
“Choice Group was created based on, it’s a model of my life. The idea behind Choice Group was my mother was a functional addict so there was a lot of ups and downs in the house, a lot of inconsistencies, but I had to continue out of that. I don’t want to make it mystical; it was seeds that were planted in me and they were nurtured and watered by different people in my life,” he said.
Dana Hammond was eleven years old when he landed his first paid gig as a drummer. As a child, he didn’t understand that he had a talent that he could ultimately make money with. The oldest of four, he would provide some essentials for his family as he experienced what it was like to be a part of the foster care system. Hammond used that circumstance as motivation and flourished through music. He has produced music for television shows and artists like Trey Songz and Mindless Behavior. His success was encouraged from the musical inspiration his family members instilled in him. Those same seeds that were nurtured in Hammond, were ones he was inspired to plant into other children’s lives. CGI helps to inspire children through music, technology and career preparation to give them the nurturing they need to defeat the odds of becoming a product of their environment.
Choice Group exposes these avenues through their programs such as music production, game art design, drum and percussion and 2-d art. The kids are given chances to perform in front of big crowds and display their talents through whichever avenue they take interest in. All of these programs use professionals in those related fields. Grammy and Emmy award-winning producer, Warryn Campbell is one of those professionals. The Gospel and R&B producer is on the board for CGI and contributes largely to their music production program. He helps the children produce and create music in an actual studio. He was awarded the “Achievement Award” at CGI’s Fundraising Gala.
“This is about the children. This is about the kids and helping their dreams,” Campbell said in his acceptance speech.
Also on the board for CGI is Grammy award winning gospel-singing duo, Mary Mary. They say being a part of Choice Group has been a great experience.
“It’s funny when you start doing something and you’re not doing it just to do a charitable event, you’re just trying to do what feels like the right thing to do. And then you’re able to come and see the first gala and you’re like wow, this is what its been for five years. This is what its been able to grow to so we’re very excited to be apart of it. We’d do it again in a heartbeat. We completely support his cause. We support his heart. He’s very passionate about this. He gives his heart, soul and all of his time to this and so we’re right on board with him because we believe in it whole-heartedly,” Tina said.
Since the gala, CGI has partnered with Willow Community School. As a part of CGI’s social entrepreneurship, the non-profit offers it’s programs focused on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative. They are currently holding educational programs at the school. It sets a dream for Hammond, who hopes that one day CGI will be able to become it’s own school focusing on the foster youth. If you want to support the Choice Group Inc., you can to go to their website http://choicegroupinc.org/ where you can donate or volunteer.