Come and meet Bennett Rathbun and learn more about Hope on a String!
Wednesday, November 16 at Noon (lunch provided)
RSVP on the BRIDE on Nov. 15
Space limited to 22 students, first-come, first-served
Summer Internships are possible – come and learn more!
Hope on a String is a non-profit, grassroots organization that seeks to foster an environment of social transformation and economic development in Haiti through participation in music.
Focus on music:
Music is a key pillar of Haitian culture, serving not only as an emotional outlet and a healing mechanism for individuals and communities, but also as a universally-accessible vehicle for galvanizing community unity.
Inspiration: The earthquake
Hope on a String was born from the call to action prompted by the massive earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince in January 2010. Our founders, Bennett and Pierre, met by chance on a trip to witness the disaster’s aftermath in June 2010. After seeing the destruction and human suffering brought about by the earthquake, they pledged to find a way to contribute to Haiti’s rebirth. Although the inspiration began with the earthquake’s destruction, Pierre and Bennett agreed that they wanted to do more than just react to the current crisis — they wanted to tackle some of the more deep-seated issues at work throughout Haiti’s history.
Focus: The music
Having grown up in Haiti, Pierre knew that music was an integral part of Haitian life – and most importantly, Haitian community. Bennett quickly came to the same realization over the course of their trip, as they repeatedly witnessed music bringing joy, healing, suffering, and giving a voice to the disenfranchised. With these powerful images etched in their minds, they returned to the U.S. and resolved to focus on music as a unique and extraordinarily powerful vehicle for change in Haiti.
Birth of the Concept: Hope on a String
Committed to taking action, Pierre and Bennett brought together a team of like-minded individuals to begin honing the Hope on a String concept: utilizing music to galvanize community building and community-driven solutions to development issues. Our team spent countless hours brainstorming, debating, designing and re-designing. We committed to close collaboration with the community and returned to Haiti to engage people in our idea. Finally, convinced that we had a chance to help create opportunities for Haitians to take hold of the future of their country, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work implementing our vision.
How they do it:
With donated instruments and educational material, we implement programming through which the community can rally around music, gain valuable skills, and engage in community-driven change.
Theory of change:
Hope on a String programming leads to community building leads to social engagement leads to social transformation and economic development.
Where they are now:
As of summer 2011, we have launched multiple sections of basic music instruction, recorder and guitar classes, a Haitian dance class, and an English language instruction class. We have also begun a leadership and social change seminar. This past spring, we secured a 9-year lease on a former nightclub facility that will serve as our community center, and we have begun using local resources and help from the community to improve the safety and security of the physical space.
Bennett Rathbun, Co-founder and Executive Director:
Bennett has been an avid music fan all his life and is a full-fledged believer in the transformative power of music as a vehicle for lasting social change. Bennett’s professional development transpired at a management consulting firm in New York City working closely with the leading investment banks in the bond market. Upon traveling to Haiti and witnessing firsthand the destruction and human suffering brought on by the massive earthquake of January 2010, he decided to find a way to help make an impact in the country going forward. After forming a close friendship and working partnership with co-founder Pierre Imbert, Bennett and the newly formed Hope on a String team formulated an innovative concept for achieving grassroots social transformation in Haiti and embarked on their current mission. Bennett graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 2007 and has transformed his private sector experience into a role with Hope on a String as co-founder and Executive Director. He is currently pursuing an MPA degree from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service on a part-time basis in addition to maintaining his full-time responsibilities with Hope on a String.