“To inspire, educate and empower “at-risk” and homeless youth to achieve academic success through music education, sound engineering and multimedia production.”
Founder Brandon Steppe opens his private converted garage studio up to neighborhood youth who were lacking support and motivation, both personally and academically. He develops an informal program that allowed students to trade grades for studio time, forming the basis for David's Harp.
The David’s Harp Foundation (DHF) is officially established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
DHF goes mobile: Brandon and DHF Lead Instructor, Rashaad Graham, take studio equipment and instruction into local high schools and teen shelters
DHF outgrows its humble roots in Brandon’s garage and, with help from Discovery Communications, builds a state-of-the-art studio in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood.
Thanks to a generous grant from the community, DHF’s Student Production Lab is expanded, doubling its capacity.
DHF expands its reach into more downtown neighborhoods, forging partnerships with three local high schools: King-Chavez High, E3 Civic High and Garfield High as well as Storefront Emergency Youth Center.
The program has grown to serve 207 youth engaged in after-school programming and our shelter nights program. Since inception, students have increased their grade point averages 16.9% after beginning mentorship and program participation
The David’s Harp Foundation continues to cultivate academic and creative excellence in the youth we serve. We Partner with 12 local schools and numerous community organizations. We are excited for the future and poised to reach even further into our local community to bring our youth to success!
Our Founder/Executive Director was recently interviewed by Sounds Like a Movement, a video blog that chronicles people that are creating positive movements around the world.
What we teach
In the rapidly changing world of digital media, innovative content is necessary. Our instructors teach students to fuse audio, video, still image and animation into a dynamic, YouTube-style multimedia production fit for mass consumption. One example is podcasting, where our students host and produce a podcast that can be subscribed to on iTunes.
DHF’s audio engineering program provides students with the fundamental of recording, mixing and mastering sound using industry standard methods and equipment.
We offer classes that teach students the foundations of music as well as introductory lessons in piano, basic music theory, drumming and guitar.
Our modern music production program has students producing original electronic music using professional methods. In addition to acquiring a working knowledge of digital production software and basic music theory, students learn how to create their own radio-quality music.
We host our popular Shelter Nights program in partnership with San Diego Youth Services’ Emergency Youth Shelter. After checking into the shelter for the night, Youth Shelter teens work with instructors in our studio to write, record and produce original music and poetry, motivating teens to stay off the streets for one more critical night.
Podcasting is a simple and effective way to use audio to tell news stories. Similar to the traditional radio interview format, students are able to interview local professionals and artists as they explore deeper conversations about art and culture. Our podcasting class teaches students to produce, edit and publish podcasts from start to finish; a skill highly valued in the workplace of tomorrow.
Meet Our Staff
Rashaad began his musical training as a drum at age 3 when he received his own starter drum set for Christmas. He continued to play the drums at his church and for the Lincoln High School Marching Band, but his professional musical career started in 2008 when he began producing music for regional and national recording artists while continuing to play concerts at local venues. Rashaad has mentored San Diego youth for the past 12 years, volunteering his natural ability to connect with kids for national non-profit, Young Life. He brings his skill set and vast experience to the David’s Harp team as our Manager of Program Instruction.
“Live your life. Live it right. Be different. Do different things.” – Kendrick Lamar
Hannah brings a diverse skillset to the team with her extensive background in nonprofit administration and event planning. Hannah has previously worked at: iThinkBig School Assemblies, Twelve San Diego, Erasmus Entertainment and Events and The San Diego Kids Expo and Fair. Hannah has done everything from small scale business events and weddings to international summer camps and massive 15,000 person events. She serves as the DHF Director of Communication, but she also plays a key role in female mentorship and oversees internships that allow her to help empower teens to create success in the midst of their circumstance.
“You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.” – Tenth Avenue North
Jonathan began his journey with the David’s Harp Foundation in 2011 as a 14-year-old video production student. In particular, he’s an extremely talented songwriter and lyricist. Over the course of his David’s Harp career, Jonathan has created and released 2 short albums of original music (“Canvas” 2014, “Yung Life” 2016). He is also a singer and multi-instrumentalist. A product of the DHF program, Jonathan now lends his passion and experience to our staff as an Instructor.
“There’s bones in my closet, but you hang stuff anyway.” – Jon Bellion
Kyle Holland Moritz
Kyle is a professional live sound engineer and the Studio Manager for the David’s Harp Foundation’s Student Studio, which is a DHF transitional program where qualified DHF program graduates can work part time as Studio engineers while pursuing their Associate’s degree at a local community college. As a DHF graduate, Kyle is a skilled audio engineer and has recorded, mixed and mastered numerous records for local and national artists. Kyle has been a member of the DHF family since 2008 and now serves as a Production and Engineering Instructor.
“We gotta start makin’ changes, learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of two distant strangers.” - Tupac
Adrian is an up-and-coming-producer and engineer that completed the David’s Harp program in 2016. Because of his rare heart for the student population that we serve and his impressive knowledge of the electronic production process, Adrian was invited to be a part of the DHF instructor staff. After his graduation from Sweetwater High School, Adrian enrolled in our transitional program and is working part time in our student studio while working toward his Associates degree at City College of San Diego. His future is bright and we are excited to have Adrian inspiring the youth we serve.
“You don’t have to tell the wise how to stay on beat, because our life’s an instrumental.” – Kendrick Lamar
Joseph is a professional pianist and music producer. As a formally trained musician, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our instruction staff. Joseph is also an accomplished electronic music producer working for Sound Collage Musik, a local production team in San Diego. His passion for music and mentorship allow him to develop long lasting bonds with our students that transcend art and make real-world impact.
“You can take a picture of something you see. In the future where will I be? You can climb a ladder to the sun. Or write a song nobody has sung, or even do something that’s never been done.” - Coldplay
Brandon is a native San Diegan; born and raised in the Southeast San Diego community of Emerald Hills. From a very early age Brandon was interested in music, picking up the saxophone at age 9 then attending the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Following his high school graduation, Brandon attended the University of San Francisco where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business in 2002.
Brandon founded and began executive direction of what would become The David’s Harp Foundation, Inc. in 2007, when he began informally allowing local youth to trade their grades for studio time in his private recording studio. After witnessing the motivating power of music production in his student’s academic achievement, Brandon sought and received federal 501c3 non-profit status in 2009.
Brandon has worked in the music industry since 2005 producing, mixing and mastering countless albums, radio and corporate recordings. Under his leadership, the David’s Harp Foundation is poised to grow their influence further into the San Diego community and beyond.
“Wisdom is better than silver and gold- I was hopeless now I’m on hope’s road.” – Lauryn Hill