By Kerry Hannon, columnist, The New York Times |

INSIDE the red-brick St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in North Philadelphia, more than a century old, the walls, lined with stained glass windows, reverberate with the haunting strains of a chorus of middle schoolers singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It’s a soaring rendition of a ubiquitous song. The simple repetition of the word is comforting, mesmerizing and uplifting. And as the voices of the eight vocalists merge while they gather around the piano and their vocal coach, it is easy to forget for a minute that this is not a troupe of professionals.

The students are part of Rock to the Future, a nonprofit after-school music program for underprivileged children who receive individual music lessons, learn to read sheet music, compose their own songs, play a range of instruments best online casino like drums, guitar and keyboards — and form their own rock bands. “We focus on contemporary music and instruments to get students engaged and motivated,” said Jessica Craft, 28, the program’s founder and executive director.

It received start-up financing of $15,000 in 2010 from Women for Social Innovation, a nonprofit philanthropic “giving circle” with a membership of around 20 women, providing seed money to social innovators seeking to help women, girls and families in the Greater Philadelphia area.

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