Kids Rock For Kids: Giving Young Performers A Chance To Make A Difference For Other Kids

SIX CONTINENTS performs in New York City, in a Kids Rock For Kids show. The band is made of six members, one from each inhabited continent, and raises money for a number of charitable organizations.

David Miller and Lisa Schorr, both musicians raising musical families, were looking for ways to support their teenagers’ rock band ambitions while at the same time instilling in them a passion for using those talents for the good of kids in need in and around their Brooklyn, New York, community. In 2017, they decided to do it themselves and put on a benefit show, called Kids Rock For Kids.

They checked out other young bands, often through social media clips, and recruited like-minded teen- and tween-aged musicians to build out the fest, which was so successful it became an annual event.

By 2019, it included comedians and dancers and supported CHIPS – a community food pantry and soup kitchen in NYC’s Park Slope neighborhood – and expanded its benefit vision to include the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization.

Then came COVID.

Just two weeks before Kids Rock For Kids was to stage its fourth annual benefit, New York City was in a terrifying lockdown, with hospital emergency rooms overflowing and ambulance sirens wailing through neighborhoods 24/7. But, as the saying goes, the show must go on.

“We were growing and growing and holding auditions because there’s so much young talent in New York City. We found these incredible bands,” Schorr says. “Two weeks before the show, the lockdown started, and all the schools shut down.

“Quickly, before everyone really went into full lockdown, we videoed all the sets. The bands were ready, and we filmed and put up a livestream show. And it was a hugely successful fundraiser!

“People were so appreciative to find something joyful in a time that was really scary in New York City,” Miller remembers. “And so once we went livestream, we started hearing from kids around the world asking, ‘How can I get involved?’”

Today, Kids Rock For Kids is a global nonprofit organization recruiting young bands from all over the world and staging multiple festivals in London and Toronto, as well as in New York City – and with more in the planning stages – and raising funds for children in dire need in Ukraine and Afghanistan, in addition to the original mission of NYC.

Bands participating in KRFK-organized festivals include outfits from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Colombia, Kenya, Canada, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, Argentina, Spain and Australia – as well as Hawaii, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

KRFK also managed to connect musicians from around the globe and put them together in collaborative efforts like Six Continents, which consists of players representing each inhabited continent on the planet.

“We started doing these virtual collaborations with kids from around the world and created a band called Six Continents,” Schorr says. “They were not only incredible musicians, but just such wonderful people. And it was such a joy to work with them. We did four videos with them over time and then, when the world started opening back up and we started doing live shows again, we thought, ‘How cool would it be if we were able to get four of the six continents kids to come to London? And it was magical.”

A high point for Kids Rock For Kids was the appearance of The Sixsters, a band affiliated with KRFK made up of all female Ukrainian teenagers that opened Glastonbury Festival on June 25.

“It was incredible to see them play Glastonbury,” Miller says. “There was something like 3,000 people there to see them as basically the first musical act of the festival. There was a lot of support and the fans knew their story. But it wasn’t really until our two shows later at our London festival that they really just started dancing and cheering and jumping around. It was the most powerful moment of music as healing.”