Don’t Miss a Beat was founded in 2008 by Ulysses Owens, Jr. Ulysses attended the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he became part of the school’s inaugural jazz program and graduated with a full scholarship to the Juilliard School. After graduating from Juilliard in 2006, Ulysses traveled the world as a jazz drummer.
The Don’t Miss A Beat (DMAB) nonprofit recently their 10th Backpack Giveaway at their facility inside the former J.S. Johnson Community Center located on Beaver Street. Community partners and friends assisted with distributing the backpacks to students that attend school in Duval County. Every child selected their backpack of choice and was given school supplies, including notebook paper, folders, binders, pencils, pens, crayons, and glue sticks. In addition, a grant from the Community Foundation provided Walmart gift cards to purchase groceries. Also on the agenda was a Vystar financial wellness workshop and “swag bags and boxes,” from Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, and Jaguar player, Brandon Watson #40.
“In other cultures, I saw so many arts programs for kids,” Ulysses says. “I thought we really needed something like this back home.” The program began with the singular objective of helping suspended youths stay in school so they wouldn’t “miss a beat.” Since then, DMAB programming has evolved to include the performing arts, academic enrichment and civic engagement as well as job skills training for parents. Shown are DMAB students choosing their back packs as they return for the 2020-2021 school year. Felicia Bass Photos