Youth On Record Hires Stephen Smith-Contreras as Director of Academic Success

In his new role, Stephen Smith-Contreras will support the next generation of young creatives through partnerships with local schools and building relationships with Denver and Aurora students.
Stephen Smith Youth On Record

Youth on Record (YOR) is excited to announce that Stephen Smith-Contreras has been named Director of Academic Success.

The hire marks YOR’s commitment to sustaining and expanding their school programs beyond Denver, Aurora, and Cherry Creek, and supports the development and implementation of career pathways for the creative industries (in partnership with the public schools).

“I couldn’t be more excited about this new addition to the team,” Deputy Director Andrea Viarrial-Murphy said.

“Stephen has a strong background in arts administration, curriculum development, leadership, and mentorship and is an extremely talented artist and musician. Stephen will be working to grow our partnerships with schools in the Denver Metro area, build our Teaching Artist team, and strengthen and grow our substitute roster. I am also thrilled that he will be working side-by-side with our new Director of Music Ecosystems, Erin Roberts, to develop and implement our career pathways programming for the creative industries.”

READ — How Youth on Record Supports Upward Mobility for Young Creatives

Prior to joining the team full-time, Smith-Contreras worked on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA), Gustavo Dudamel’s signature program where he managed YOLA National and various community-based music projects.

His professional background includes 15 years of experience working in creative youth development with a focus on social and economic justice. He has a passion for using music and art as an agent for change and has committed to working with young people and communities through his work. He has developed and implemented a variety of arts education curricula with schools, universities, arts institutions and community-based organizations. Smith-Contreras has degrees in Cultural Anthropology, Ethnic Studies and Music from the University of Colorado at Boulder and California State University Los Angeles.

Like so much of YOR’s staff, Smith-Contreras is also a longtime musician himself. He has performed internationally and enjoys exploring the intersections between Afro-Latin percussion and electronic music.

“Youth on Record’s work fostering the intersection of arts education, music innovation and community cultivation has been on my radar for many years, “ Smith-Contreras said. “It is truly exciting to join Youth on Record’s dynamic team of teaching artists and arts administrators, and advancing its mission in our public schools.”

As Director of Academic Success, Smith-Contreras will navigate and oversee YOR’s relationships with public schools and for-credit class programs. Current school partnerships include Aurora Central High School, Colorado High School Charter – GES and Osage Campuses, Compass Academy, Legacy Options High School, Robert Smith STEAM Academy, Vista Peak Preparatory and American Indian School.

About Youth on Record:

YOR recognizes that education alone can not solve for systemic injustice, nor can it, alone, liberate youth. Art is a powerful tool, but it also cannot bear the sole responsibility for creating more equitable communities. Still, education and art, when integrated under the right framework, are powerful tools toward liberation and equity. 

YOR’s education, music, and community programs are designed to help young people become more free, more rooted in their personal power, and better able to thrive in spite of systems and circumstances that dis-empower and marginalize them.

YOR designs and implements strengths-based, music-centered programs intended to equip young people from historically under-resourced communities with the skills needed to find success in life–by advancing their academic success, increasing their economic opportunities and career skills, and strengthening their community connections and networks.

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