“First Friday’s Group,” a new social venture spearheaded by a team of Johns Hopkins students, has begun making waves in Baltimore, Maryland. The startup organizes concerts, benefits, and other social events geared towards promoting greater cohesion in the Baltimore community.
“Fostering a sense of unity is key to social progress in a community.” says its founder, Johns Hopkins junior Kristofer Madu. “Through 1FG, we hope to bridge the gaps that exist between the various social ecosystems in Baltimore & beyond.”
According to 1FG administrative member, & Baltimore native Duncan Parke, 1FG does just that.
“Being a graduate of the Baltimore City public school system, I’m extremely excited for a company like this to exist.” “Johns Hopkins, though Baltimore’s largest employer and a huge part of our [city’s] academic culture, often feels disconnected from the greater community.” “First Friday’s Group builds a bridge that encourages college students to explore the rich art scene and nightlife Baltimore has to offer and creates avenues for social exchange between Johns Hopkins students & Baltimore natives that didn’t previously exist.”
What is so unique about First Friday’s Group, is its socially conscious approach to event promotion. Rather than solely profiting off its events, the startup also pledges to mobilize its platform to the benefit of Baltimore’s inner city youth. “We seek to continually commit monetary contributions to local causes centred on youth empowerment, athletics, and or creative expression,” says Madu, whose track record includes prior experience in both artistry & non-profit management.
As opposed to structuring its events around name-brand artists, First Friday’s Group invites local youth & college students to perform at its events. “I believe most people have an untapped desire to create, be that in music, performing arts, photography, or illustration,” says Johns Hopkins senior & 1FG administrative member Sindhu Banerjee, “Unfortunately, the barrier to entry to become an artist is rather high given the equipment, software, and licenses one needs to get started.”
Acknowledging the high barrier to entry for creative expression, the startup provides both equipment, & formal instruction to prospective performers with little or no prior experience. “Through our hands-on learning approach, we turn hesitant, artistically-inclined hopefuls into confident and empowered creatives, and we hope to continue expanding this model to disadvantaged youth throughout the area, providing them with a creative outlet they otherwise would not have.”
Thus far, the organization has seen considerable traction. In the Spring of 2019, its inaugural event “Thirsty Thursday” featured a lineup of 10 Baltimore based musical artists & met capacity at Oxygen Lounge, one of Baltimore’s premier nightlife venues. See it here.
The group is currently planning several events for the Fall, including two in collaboration with students from other major Maryland Universities. Here at Yack we would love to see more venues and systems like this encouraging and pumping blood into the local scene, we’re shining a light on this team because we believe they are not just doing something important, but something that can change the world. Keep an eye on them and the next wave of artists that systems like this will allow us to tap into.
To keep up with 1FG and future events, follow them here.