Against All Odds: UEI

The Power of Music
"The Urban Entertainment Institute is an after-school arts program. We offer vocal lessons, piano lessons, dance lessons, sound recording engineering and art lessons," says Fred of the program he founded to keep kids off the streets. "My toughest job is to deprogram all the negative things that they've been told. They learn that you don't have to be a victim of your
environment."

When Fred last appeared on the Dr. Phil show, Dr. Phil, on behalf of The Dr. Phil Foundation, surprised him with a check for $50,000. "I felt so overwhelmed and grateful. We were able to pay our instructors. We were able to build a new office in one of our spaces. The instruments that Dr. Phil gave us enabled us to open up a guitar class, and we opened up a drum class," he says.

After the show, UEI received thousands of e-mails and phone calls from people who were inspired. "People were sending in checks and making donations. One of our great supporters is Jackson Browne. We recorded a CD with Jackson Browne, and he co-produced the project," Fred shares. "Dr. Phil made the statement that he wanted to use this as a model to have other programs like this, and as a result, there are two other programs like this. One is in Canada and one also in Chicago."
UEI's program has changed the life of 16-year-old DeDe. "Before she came here, DeDe was really withdrawn, didn't really want to trust anyone," Fred says.

"I was pretty depressed. Nothing motivated me. I had just lost my father in a motorcycle accident. It was heartbreaking, and it just left me feeling empty," DeDe reveals. "Fred helped me find who I am. Joy started coming back. UEI saved my life."

DeDe currently takes guitar lessons through the program. "I've written a song. It's called "Unstop
pable," and the lyrics inspire me every time I sing it," she says. "I definitely want to go to college and major in broadcasting, journalism on-air, even co-host the Dr. Phil show! For me, to go to college is like a dream come true, because no one else in my family has gone all the way and has been that successful." She thanks Dr. Phil for his contributions to UEI.

Dr. Phil points out that other programs are starting all over the country based on the UEI model. "You really set up something that is working for these kids," he says.

 

Robin tells Fred that Superior Projects, a national sign and display company, has offered to manufactur

e and install an outdoor sign for the UEI building. Also, The Dr. Phil Foundation is donating an additional $25,000 to help with instruments, building repairs and the hiring of mentors.

"Thank you," Fred says.

 

Dr. Phil gives DeDe a chance to be a TV host. She walks onstage, looks into the camera and announces, "We'll be right back with more from pianist William Joseph."

UEI has also created a CD called Some Bridges, Fred Martin and the Levite Camp, which is co-produced by Jackson Browne and recorded by former students. A percentage of each sale goes to UEI. For more information on purchasing their CD, click here. To donate to UEI, click here.