ZUMIX is an East Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building our community through music and creative technology. We believe music is the most powerful means of developing adolescent self-identity. Our award-winning music and creative technology programming is designed to equip youth with the tools necessary to reach their full potential, while creating a safe space for youth to explore who they are and who they want to be. Through community events, ZUMIX also provides access to top-quality arts experiences for a low-income, historically underserved neighborhood.
Co-founders Bob Grove and current executive director Madeleine Steczynski founded ZUMIX in 1991 as a response to Boston’s worst wave of youth violence. ZUMIX began as a summer songwriting program with 24 youth, $200, and the simple idea that giving youth something to be passionate about could transform lives and elevate communities.
Our programming quickly expanded. In 1993, we created a free outdoor Summer Concert Series to serve the broader community. Today, our year-round events provide East Boston residents with access to top-quality arts and cultural events.
Today ZUMIX serves more than 500 youth per year through after-school and summer programming and an additional 500 through in-school partnerships. More than 10,000 additional adults, children, and families attend our community events and festivals.
For almost 30 years, the Engine Company 40 Firehouse sat vacant on the corner of Sumner and Orleans Streets in East Boston. The exterior façade was prominent, but the interior rooms were run down. In 2004, the City of Boston decided to sell the Firehouse and awarded the building to ZUMIX in 2005. We closed on the Firehouse in December of 2008, and began construction in 2009.
The Firehouse renovations transformed a long-abandoned building into a beautiful, functional and inspiring cultural and performance space for ZUMIX programs, participants and the East Boston community at large. All along, our goal was to renovate this building with the latest “green” technology. This way, we would not only save a historic building and improve our neighborhood, but we would also contribute to a healthier environment, create educational opportunities for our youth, and strengthen our financial sustainability by saving energy costs and attracting funders who support “green” organizations. The Firehouse received Gold LEED Certification, an impressive accomplishment for a renovation project.