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Jourdan Urbach: music and philanthropy and education play his tune.

Jourdan Urbach was never a typical child. He picked up the violin at nearly 3 years old and at age 18 has already played at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center in New York City. He's used his musical talents to raise more than $4.8 million for the medical community. Urbach chose a book by Dr. Fred Epstein, a famed pediatric neurosurgeon and former director of the New York University Medical Center's Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, for a book report when he was 7.

"I was so compelled by it I decided that I was going to write him a letter requesting an interview, which you could do shamelessly when you are 7," said Urbach. Dr. Epstein granted Urbach's request and after talking for hours, took Ubach on a tour of the intensive care unit.

Urbach said that tour moved him to ask Dr. Epstein, who died in 2006, what he could do to help the children in the hospital. Urbach decided to perform concerts for the children, going room-to-room for those who could not move.

He created his own organization, Children Helping Children (CHC), to host Concerts for a Cure to support fundraising activities for the medical community, focusing on Urbach's continued interest in neurology.


CHC has raised more than $4.8 million and Urbach plays at nearly two dozen concerts a year, including performances benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). Arney Rosenblat. vice president of public affairs at NMSS, said that Urbach has "taken the lead" in his concert fundraising efforts. Rosenblat said just having Urbach involved in a concert creates "a ripple effect," opening up for increased media coverage and new volunteers who want to help.

Now a freshman at Yale University studying neuroscience, Urbach realized that campus philanthropic efforts were lacking. He explained that many student-oriented organizations fit into three categories: organizations focusing on a specific cause, programs designed to give students a life experience rather than making the most impact, and huge organizations with a sizeable overhead.

Disappointed with the options, in 2009 Urbach created the International Coalition of College Philanthropists (ICCP). He hopes the organization will be a worldwide honors society for those college students interested in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

Urbach said one thing the nonprofit sector should work on is fiscal responsibility. "A lot of times organizations get way too invested in specific projects that aren't going well or in sectors where they could be doing more good elsewhere, and money just goes down the drain. The public that donates loses trust in those organizations and the people who need help aren't getting helped. So if anything needs to change in the nonprofit field right now it's just responsibility," he said.

"I think that nonprofits need to take accountability for the donations that they receive and do real work with them. Make actual change happen, be goal oriented and choose an accomplishable goal and accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time. I think that's what nonprofits need to focus on, especially in the current economic downturn," said Urbach.

Urbach said in 10 years he expects to be an attending neurologist working in a lab, but will still have time to perform. And he doesn't expect his passion for the philanthropy to dim. "I would love to continue to be a driving force in my little space in the nonprofit world. I would love to see CHC continue, under new management since I'm no longer a child. I love to see ICCP blossom and I would love to see the ICCP become a force to be reckoned with--an organization that has real pull that can become a vehicle of positive change," he said.
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Author:Donohue, Michele
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Date:Jan 15, 2010
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