LETTERS OF SUPPORT DELIVERED
Jennifer Jo Young
January M. Akselrad is a Development Consultant for the new not-for-profit 501c3 Be A Friend Project, Inc., a Project she Co-Founded in 2015. She was Co-Founder and Co-President of See The Wish, a ten-year partnership with children's author, Jennifer Jo Young, from 2009-2019. All of the company’s books, music, teacher resources, school presentations and Dramaterials™ line of “classroom plays that teach” were created to educate and inspire in an entertaining way.
January is the playwright/composer of over 100 curriculum and ethics-based plays and musicals that she has produced and directed for schools, libraries and institutions. Many of these plays have been published by See The Wish as part of the Dramaterials™ line. January is the author/composer of the Mom’s Choice and Benjamin Franklin Award-winning musical and CD/Guidebook, Lost In The Library, and composer/director and co-author of Matzah & Miracles - A Passover Musical, winner of a Parents’ Choice, Mom’s Choice and Benjamin Franklin Gold Award. In 2015, January debuted a new anti-bullying musical, It's Easy! The Friend Strong Musical, as composer/director and co-playwright, which has gone on to win 8 Broadway World Awards in 2017 and is licensed internationally.
For eight years, January was on faculty at the Riverdale Country School in New York where she created a theater program for their 1st through 6th grades. Called a “true master” by Dr. Miriam Westheimer, Program Director for Columbia University’s Teachers College, January compiled her knowledge of putting on a school play in her 2010 primer, Classroom Teacher As Theater Director. On that topic, she teaches a professional development workshop for educators, From Casting To Cast Party– How To Teach Using Curriculum-Based Plays.
January’s own performance credits include singing opera, cabaret and musical theater off-Broadway in New York and children’s theaters around the world. Most recently, she sang as a member of Angelica, a women's choral ensemble, traveling to Italy to take part in the international "Festival Corale Verona Garda Estate.” Her love of dance and fitness lead to her certification as a Zumba Instructor in 2014. January often uses her creativity as a writer and performer to produce theater events, performances and videos as benefits for philanthropic entities. She is active in non-profit governance. January holds a degree in music and composition from Hunter College and attended the Julliard School of Music where she studied opera. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Education.
Jennifer Jo Young is Executive Director of the new not-for-profit 501c3 Be A Friend Project, Inc., which she Co-Founded in 2015 and directed over the four years as it grew national. She was Co-Founder and Co-President of See The Wish in partnership with author/composer, January M. Akselrad, from 2009-2019. All of the company’s books, music, teacher resources, school presentations and Dramaterials™ line of “classroom plays that teach” were created to educate and inspire in an entertaining way.
Jennifer is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning chapter book, The Wishful Penny– Adventures of a One-Cent Coin. She is co-author with January of Matzah & Miracles, winner of a Parents’ Choice, Mom’s Choice and Benjamin Franklin Gold Award and Co-Playwright of the middle school play, The Bully And The Bystanders, and the full-length debut anti-bullying musical, It’s Easy! The Friend Strong Musical which won 8 Broadway World Awards in 2017, when she was Producer, and is currently licensed internationally. The Be A Friend Project was developed in 2015 to carry the "speak up, reach out and be a friend" message of "It's Easy!".
Prior to See The Wish, Jennifer worked as Director of Product Development and Marketing for the educational toy company, Guidecraft USA. Before that, Jennifer spent over ten years working with foster care children as a Life Skills Educator. In that role, she co-authored the Human Sexuality Trainer's Manual for the New York Foundling Hospital and developed a Life Skills Workbook to assist young adults aging-out of the foster care system. Jennifer has led outdoor adventure programs and completed Outward Bound of NYC Youth Worker Trainings. As a consultant for New York State’s Department of Children & Family Services, Jennifer trained social workers and educators, led support groups for foster parents and spoke nationally at education and social work conferences on the topic of "Enhancing Self-Esteem and Body Image through Adventure/Challenge Programs."
Jennifer has taught academics in alternative placement and tutoring programs for New York public school districts in 1st through 12th Grades and has NYS DOE fingerprint clearance. She has also taught ESL to adults and Vietnamese refugee minors. She is a certified Job Coach through the NYS Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for the special needs population. Her love of dance and fitness lead to her certification as a Zumba Instructor in 2014. Most recently, Jennifer was contracted to provide Intensive Crisis Avoidance/Response Services to youth in the NYS Bridges To Health Program. Jennifer holds a B.A. in English from the University of Connecticut.
At the November 3rd, 2019, Riverdale "Y" Rising Stars Broadway Gala, Honorees Jennifer Young and January Akselrad, as Co-Founders of the Be A Friend Project, were each presented with Proclamations from both the State of New York and the City of New York to honor their anti-bullying, pro-empathy work in service to the community. We are incredibly thankful for this great honor of a lifetime and validation of the mission of the Be A Friend Project.
449 LANE GATE ROAD, COLD SPRING, NY 10516
Co-President Jennifer Cell: 845-742-7112
The organization’s formal legal name is BE A FRIEND PROJECT, INC.
It is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization / Federal Tax ID # 84-2802576.
Any donation to the Be A Friend Project, Inc. is tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law, thank you!