Welcome to the Community Inspirations Blog

LOV Olive Branches, CDC, a 501(C) (3) non-profit organization, supports at-risk youth through 3 programs: Mentorship, Life Skills, and Youth Music. The youth music and arts program, co-founded by Stephen B. Steward, provides scholarships through an annual talent competition and music festival. The annual activities for youth are partially funded by Stephen's music project.

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A Message from Stephen

First Annual Youth Talent Competition

First Annual Youth Talent Competition

Welcome to our Community Inspirations blog! We are so pleased to be able to begin to chronicle the work that we have done with LOV Olive Branches and provide you with helpful and interesting information about the organization and the topics surrounding its work and its founding. Before we get started, we want to introduce ourselves and provide you with a little bit of background about the program, its founders, and its purpose.

Who We Are

We are Stephen and Onesha Steward, the current administrators of LOV Olive Branches youth music program. We have been married for twenty-eight years. Both of us were raised in families that believed that music—both singing and/or playing music instruments—was an important part of life, and in fact, one of the best ways to celebrate life.

As a young boy in Mississippi, I remember writing and singing my own music, which was a great way to break through prejudices and connect with other people who I would not have been able to connect with. My wife, Onesha had a similar experience, recalling her involvement in music, specifically the piano and violin, as extracurricular activities that kept her and her siblings focused, in a constructive environment, and away from trouble.

It was in these beginnings that we found a passion for music and a love for the good work that it could do. This is why we were honored to administer the youth music program of LOV Olive Branches and continue promoting the good work done by the organization.

About LOV Olive Branches

LOV Olive Branches (or LOB) was founded in 1999 by retired pastors, Leroy and Anna Toliver, of Altadena. For more than 15 years, they fostered children and provided a happy, caring home for at risk youth. The organization’s name originates from the concept of grafting branches into an olive tree. With the right attention and care, a branch from another olive tree—even a wild one—can be grafted into a healthy olive tree.

This organization has three programs to help at-risk youth. These are mentorship, life skills, and youth music. All three of these programs are designed to provide young people with the skills and strength to handle whatever life throws at them, and to give them something to work towards, all while having fun. Blog about your community inspirations here. We would love to hear about them!

Youth Scholarship Fundraiser

Brunch at Magdaleno's in Upland with Stephen B. Steward

This will be our exciting kick-off scholarship fundraising event in Upland, CA, for our 2015 SBS & LOV Olive Branches, CDC (LOBCDC) Youth Talent Competition and Festival. The grand scholarship winners of the 2014 youth talent competition will perform, along with jazz singer, Shira Carroll of the Inland Empire. Jazz saxophonist, Dr. Alvin McKinney will join us with special performances and, of course, the founder of the LOBCDC youth scholarship program, Stephen B. Steward, will perform music from his debut CD. We invite everyone to join the movement in supporting youth music and arts. Do you know youth between the ages of 5 and 17 years old that enjoy music and the arts? If yes, sign up at http://stephenbsteward.com/2015-talent-competition/ to receive updates on our 2015 Youth Talent Competition and Festival.

Music & Arts Education Quick Facts

*A student involved in the arts is four (4) times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.

* Students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a four percent (4%) dropout rate which is five (5) times lower than their socioeconomic status peers.

*Students who take four (4) years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points higher on their SAT scores than students who take only one-half (1/2) year or less.

*Ninety-seven percent (97%) of elementary schools nationwide don’t offer dance and ninety-six percent (96%) don’t offer theater.

*Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education.

*Source: Americans for the Arts