About Plugged In
We’re in the Community
- Plugged In is based in Needham, MA serving musicians of all skills and abilities in Massachusetts and around the world.
- Its dual focus is to give musicians a venue through which they can channel their creativity, learn to work in a group, and improve their music skills while learning about the value and importance of social activism.
- In addition to the Plugged In benefit concert series, you’ll see Plugged In performing at Harvard Square, local street fairs, local chamber of commerce events, the Needham Martin Luther King, Jr Day Celebration, Needham Fourth of July Parade, and many other local events.
We’re Musicians and Teachers
- The teaching and learning process is a core value of Plugged in and it transcends everything we do.
- Through low teacher-to-student ratios, each student gets a great deal of individual attention.
- In addition, students teach and learn from each other – both in their own bands and from one band to another.
- We also teach each other about charitable organizations that need our help. We learn about the great work that others are doing around the block and around the world and try to figure out ways to help.
We’re Making a Place for Everyone
- So many young people have no outlet for their enthusiasm and creative energy.
- Plugged In bands provide nurturing and support in an environment built on mutual respect and understanding.
- Our success is measured by how we do well, not how well we do.
- No matter what your musical interest or skill level, Plugged In has a place for you.
We’re Making a Difference in Our World
- It is impossible to separate Plugged In from the causes that we embrace.
- The money we raise from our concerts goes directly to the charities we play for.
- In 2006, we raised enough money from our January concert to send our friend from Zimbabwe, Justice Makuni, to university for four years. After school, Justice plans to go back to his village and build a better future.
- It’s such an empowering feeling to know we played a part in this.
We’re Looking for You
- Whether you are a prospective Plugged In student, parent, local business, or you are just interested in the Plugged In experience we would love to hear from you.
- Music classes begin in February and September, and the summer session begins in July.
- If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities or you would like to participate in Plugged In as a volunteer, music teacher, Board Member, or in any other way you can think of please contact us at email@example.com.
How We Empower
- All students participating in Plugged In programming have the opportunity to participate in additional activities above and beyond their band class, private lesson or workshop.
- Students participating in Plugged In can access many of performance opportunities throughout the year, including our benefit concert series and local community performances.
- Through performances students gain the confidence and learn the skills necessary to use their music to give back to the community. Students are also invited to participate in the Plugged In Youth Board.
- The Youth Board lets students have a say in important decisions being made by the organization and gives them the opportunity to help guide Plugged In’s development.
Community Engage Evening and Benefit Concerts
- One of the most important aspects of Plugged In is the emphasis placed on showing students how they can use music to better the world.
- The concerts at the end of each session raise money for charitable organizations chosen by the students.
- At the beginning of each session, we hold a Community Engage Evening at which students present to each other charities and causes that are important to them. Students explain how they learned about the charities, what needs are met by the organizations and why they feel it is important to support the organizations.
- At the end of the evening, they vote to determine the recipient charitable organization for the concert. Also during the evening, an adult whose work involves using the arts to effect social change speaks with the students.
- Our goal is to provide role models for the students of ways to include philanthropy in their lives and careers.
- Plugged In students are invited to perform at many community and non-profit organization events, such as the 4th of July parade, street fairs, New Years Needham celebration, Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, Walker School, etc.
- These performances are optional and voluntary.
- Students can perform with their bands, by themselves and/or with students from other bands.
- The Youth Board is open to all Plugged In students.
- The goal of the Youth Board is to strengthen the Plugged In student community by fostering greater involvement of students in the programs and activities of Plugged In and giving students from different bands the opportunity to meet and get to know each other.
- The Youth Board typically meets one evening per month.
Founders and Co-Executive Directors
Tom Pugh, co-founder of Plugged In, attended Berklee College of Music and has been a professional musician for 40 years.
Tom has performed with numerous bands, including Frankie Lee,the Doowopp Hall of Fame Rock and Roll All Stars, Southern Revelation, SloBurn and Lois Lane and the Daily Planets. He has played at Boston’s Symphony Hall and the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as many other prestigious venues.
Tom has also been an audio and video engineer at WGBH in Boston for 30 years.
Sandra Rizkallah, co-founder and co-executive director of Plugged In, has a degree in film and television from Emerson College.
Sandra has produced her own documentaries and has worked in the post-production department of NOVA at WGBH.
Board of Directors
Brandt Brisson – Treasurer
Brandt joined the Board of Directors of Plugged In in 2012. He met with Tom and Sandra at a United Way Board Connect event in Boston and was impressed with their passion for music and inspiring young musicians. Brandt is currently a Vice President / Systems Project Leader at Brown Brothers Harriman in Boston and has been in the financial services industry for the past 20 years. Outside of work, Brandt enjoys playing guitar for Plugged In’s band, Bored of Directors. Brandt lives in Watertown with his wife, Tina and two children.
Tony Callini – Governance Chair, Volunteer Committee Co-Chair
Tony joined the Board of Directors of Plugged In in 2016 after admiring the great work Tom and Sandra did in the community spreading love, music and compassion. Although Tony pays his bills by posing as CFO of iZotope, an Emmy award winning company that uses technology and magic to inspire musicians and film-makers to unleash their creativity. In his spare time, Tony’s a drummer in a local funk/rock band called Off Label and enjoys gigging in and around the Boston area. Tony lives in Wayland with his wife, Stephanie and two teenage daughters
Sean Finnegan – Fundraising Committee
Andy Friedman – Volunteer Committee Co-Chair
Jen Green – Inclusion Committee, Contract Programming Committee
Jen Green is the parent of 2 young adults who played in Plugged In bands for a total of 21 sessions. Jen is a social worker in the LifeMAP Coaching Program of AANE (Asperger/Autism Network). She loves Plugged In’s commitment to including students with neurodiverse profiles, and has been in awe of the talent and bravery of the young musicians on stage for session concerts. She lives in Needham with her husband and children.
Bruce Greenfield – Clerk
Bruce recently moved to Needham from Ohio in 2015, drawn by the allure of 2 his granddaughters. Bruce is currently on the faculty of the School of Business at Northeastern U., and a consultant in Operations Management. Aspiring harmonica player. Grew up during the golden age of Motown and rock, still loving it!
Paul Jarosik – Marketing Chair
Paul joined the Board of Directors after experiencing Plugged In’s positive impact on his daughter. He spent over 15 years at Sony Music and Epic Records in various sales and marketing positions. Paul currently runs the marketing department at Nth Degree, an event strategy and management agency. Paul hopes to soon learn guitar so he can jam with his daughter!
Jen King – Inclusion Committee Chair, Development Sub-Committee of Events Chair, Contract Programming Committee
Jen joined the Board of Directors of Plugged In in 2017. She is the mother of a Plugged In alum who found his people and his path as a musician during his time as a Plugged In student. She is grateful to be able to support Plugged In and its mission, which she has seen first hand make a huge difference in the lives of students. Jen’s career focus has been on working with seniors, both in the community and in skilled nursing facilities, and she is currently a Long Term Care Ombudsman. Jen was involved in the Needham SEPAC for many years, as Chair, Programming Chair, School Liaison, and Out-of-District Parent Liaison. Jen lives in Needham with her husband and children.
Tony Mastromatteo – President
Tony is a Plugged In parent and member of the board of directors since 2012. He was previously Governance chair and has served as the Board President since 2015. He’s also the lead singer of Plugged In’s “Bored of Directors” band. Tony holds a BS and MS in engineering and currently is Director of Partner Sales at Transitional Data Services. He has a 4th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate and serves as lead instructor and steering committee member for the local, non-profit chapter of Kids Kicking Cancer.
Dan Croft – Program Director
Dan Croft originally joined Plugged In as Administrative Assistant to help our staff keep every aspect of the organization running smoothly.
After one year he has become an important part of the program and has taken on the responsibilities of Program Director.
Dan’s interest in organizations that serve and inspire youth began when he was a camper and later a Counselor-in-Training at Paul Newman’s Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.
Dan is also studying toward a degree in botany with the hopes to integrate his love of nature and plants with his experience in the non-profit sector.
Dan lives in Waltham, MA, where he spends most of his free time baking and taking care of his kitty, Toby.
Dan loves his label maker and is known for saying “rock on!” all the time.
- Plugged In is a non-profit program for students (ages 10-18) that teaches kids how to be in a rock band and, more importantly, about the importance of giving back to the community.
- We stage multiple benefit concerts where all the students vote to choose the organization for which the concert will raise money.
- Plugged In is about bringing young people together through music, teaching them the importance of using their music to make positive change in the world, and helping them gain self-confidence.
- Our goal with Plugged In is to have the charitable aspect of the program be so meaningful for our students that they will continue using their music to help others throughout their lives.
- PLUGGED IN VALUES: Fundamental to everything we do are our core values.
- PHILANTHROPY AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY ARE FUNDAMENTAL TO THE PROGRAM: Not only do we have concerts that benefit charities chosen by the students, we offer a variety of community service opportunities for our students.
- PLUGGED IN IS INCLUSIVE IN ALL WAYS We respect and embrace differences. We encourage students to express themselves freely through their music. No one will be turned away. We welcome all instruments and musicians of all experience levels and abilities including those with special needs. We do not limit the number of students we enroll in band classes and, through our Inclusion Fund, we offer scholarships to those who cannot afford the tuition.
- THERE IS NO HIERARCHY – EVERYONE IS EQUAL: We try to avoid the rules, competition and pressures students experience at school. There are no band leaders and all bands perform in a noncompetitive environment. Everyone is valued equally for their contributions.
- Plugged In is for kids who want to start a rock band, but either don’t know how, don’t have the confidence to do so, have no one with whom to start the band, or don’t have a place to rehearse. Each group (made up of about 5 students) chooses a name for the band and what songs they are going to play. They also write and perform original music.
- Through the creative and nurturing environment provided by the Plugged In program, students are encouraged to take risks in both musical performance and songwriting, which results in artistic growth and increased self-confidence.
- For many students, playing in a band and in a concert has been a dream or goal of theirs for a long time. We hope that by showing teenagers that they can accomplish this goal, they can translate this experience into other parts of their lives and accomplish other goals.
- At the end of each session, the Plugged In bands perform in a live benefit concert.
- As the music industry is dominated by business, money and fame, Plugged In hopes to infuse their students’ experience of music with some social consciousness and show them the importance of giving back to the community.
- At the beginning of each session, students are asked if there are organizations or causes that are important to them – which they would like to support with their music. Based on their ideas, the final concert becomes a benefit event to raise money for one of these causes/organizations.
- Past concerts have raised money for Seeds of Peace, a camp where Arab and Jewish teenagers come together and learn conflict resolution skills and learn to develop trust and empathy for one another, the Tobacco Free Mass Coalition, I Love Music Foundation, started by Walter McCarty of the Boston Celtics to promote music opportunities, resources and education for Boston youth, the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care and Music For Relief, the Elias Fund, started by the band Dispatch to provide hope and opportunity through education to the next generation of Zimbabwean youth, and Amnesty International.
Recognizing & Celebrating Music
- There are many sports activities available to youth, and these young athletes find success and recognition through their participation in these programs. While this is important, we have found that young musicians often do not have these same opportunities.
- These youth may have comparable talent, skill level, and enthusiasm in their musical specialty, but there are fewer opportunities in which to participate and, thus, few opportunities for them to reap the benefits that come from being involved in community programs.
- The Plugged In program offers youth musicians something they can not often find elsewhere: a community to which they can belong, an opportunity to connect with other student musicians, a place where they feel safe to take risks and gain self confidence, and a way to learn about the importance of community giving through our bi-annual benefit concerts.