After suffering many hardships as a youth while living in San Bernardino, Edwin Johnson decided to use his experiences to create opportunity for young people throughout the city. At the age of 16, Johnson found himself homeless and living in an abandoned building near Feldheym Central Library.
Johnson suffered years of poverty and abuse as a teenager and turned to Central City Lutheran Mission for hot meals. He became involved with their programs and learned life and leadership skills that put him on the right path.
Johnson received his GED by the age of 19 and went on to earn his Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Administration.
Johnson’s personal journey led him to work with at-risk youth through working corrections, however, he felt the need to create a preventive program that equips youth with skills to become successful and productive members of society. “I feel like God put it in my heart to always work with the youth,” says Johnson. “I feel like everything that I’ve been through, it was training,” he continues.
In 2012, Johnson founded Creating Hopeful Opportunities and Resiliency by Developing
Skills or C.H.O.R.D.S. The nonprofit organization is a music based program focusing on assisting students develop leadership skills while providing a safe alternative for San Bernardino youth ages 11 to 19. “The foundation of C.H.O.R.D.S. is like my life story,” says Edwin.
C.H.O.R.D.S. uses music as a gateway to teach young people various valuable skills in the arts. The program is free to all who participate and is designed to help youth cultivate their talents by exploring music and creative arts. Approximately 20 to 25 young people enroll in the program every school year. All students enrolled at C.H.O.R.D.S. are encouraged to maintain good grades while in school as a requirement to participate.
C.H.O.R.D.S provides a series of programs for youth throughout the week along with weekend activities to teach youth about recording and producing music. Students are also exposed to creative writing and positive forms of expression. Academic tutoring and counseling are available for those enrolled.
C.H.O.R.D.S. relies heavily on donations and volunteers and is currently seeking donated snacks and school supplies.
To learn more about their programs or how you can become involved, call (909) 658-9550 or visit: 3041 N Sierra Way, San Bernardino, CA 92405. Information is also available on the C.H.O.R.D.S. Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/Chordseyp