Community & Mentorship With Meaning

Here’s the thing about Get Creative Enrichment Clubs

They’re not just clubs. E4 Youth is up to something much bigger.

Education Director Humberto Perez likes to say, “It’s about being part of a creative community that has your back, with young and older adult mentors who are invested in your success in life as well as what you do creatively.” It doesn’t stop when the school year’s over, or when a kid graduates from high school. 

Case in point: E4 Youth Founder/Executive Director Carl Settles tells me that, most years, roughly a third of the Creative College Mentors (CCMs) are former Get Creative Enrichment Club members or Shadow the Pros participants. Carl says, “It’s a part of the culture we want to promote — peers, near-peers and professionals building a creative ecosystem.”

CCMs get paid for leading club meetings. They can also earn perks like preferred access to E4 Youth events, internship opportunities and more — connecting these young adults with  the larger Austin creative professional community in ways that their school experiences can’t.

SXSW badges are one of the most highly desired perks that CCMs can earn. It’s also one of the most valuable and unforgettable. 


Alex Walker (left) working with other Creative College Mentors on E4 Youth’s VR Storytelling Project.

A Peek Into The Future Of Performance with Alex Walker

Alex spent the previous two school years serving as an E4-sponsored mentor to LBJ High School’s DJ Club, which he helped establish before he graduated. This year he moved to E4’s Music Legacy Project, which offers high school and college-aged students the chance to work directly with world-class pros on all aspects of the music business.

During SXSW18, Alex accompanied a club member to a showstopper of a music panel entitled “When AI, Beatboxing and Mixed Reality Combine.” Presented by the London-based VFX and creative content studio The Mill, this session was billed as the world’s first performance blending artificial intelligence, the human instrument and augmented reality.

The Mill’s software and AI engineers created an AI that could mimic the sounds of a human beatboxer, learn from them and create its own sounds and patterns. In the performance, world-class beatboxer Reeps One started out by dropping a few bars. The AI responded, initially copying his flow. Through a series of call-and-response exchanges, the AI’s performance became increasingly different from what Reeps One was doing.

Ultimately, there was a full song in which both the human and AI beatboxers performed together at the same time. The performance also included voice-reactive sound sculptures that could be seen using 3D glasses provided to attendees. 

“It gave me a peek into what live performances might become in the future,” said Alex, “I was inspired by the idea of adding other elements that might be unorthodox, but could enhance the show and make it something people would want to come back to and share with their friends.”


Mari Vidrio Learns About Persistence From Zombie Sharks And Seasoned Pros

Mari is a Digital Media Management major at St. Edward’s University, graduating this June (here’s her portfolio). She’s also a writer, musician and filmmaker. Mari was a CCM at Pflugerville High School until her final college semester and helped guide students at SXSW this year. In addition, her E4 Youth badge gave Mari the opportunity to hear new bands and attend music events with speakers such as Nile Rodgers and Talib Kweli.

When I asked Mari what struck her the most about her SXSW experience, she said “The realization that my hard work got me here. I do recognize how expensive it is to get a badge, and I’m really grateful.” Mari connected with some really helpful pros during the Film portion of the conference.

Zombie Shark poster (from

During a panel that featured Fable House — the Baton Rouge-based team behind the SyFy Original B-movie “Zombie Shark” — Mari heard some incredible advice. Co-founder and cinematographer Matt S. Bell talked about the fact that making low-budget shark films wasn’t what Fable set out to do. Then he stressed that, at the end of the day, they’re still getting paid to do what they love with incredible people.

After the panel, the Fable team was really open to talking with Mari about how they got their start. Mari says, “They told me they started out making films with their friends, just like I do. And ultimately those films became part of their portfolios and helped them get their first jobs. So if I just keep on making films, maybe I can get somewhere too.” (Plus she made some really cool networking connections too.)

Never Underestimate The Power Of Encouragement And Inspiration

Never underestimate the power of a community that supports your growth as a creative AND a young professional.

Never underestimate the power of recognizing your path in the footsteps others have set down before you.

Never underestimate the power of seeing other artists turning their creative work into thriving careers — especially when they’ll tell you how they did it.

That’s what E4 Youth is all about.


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