Sammy Steiner creates social change through music

Sammy Steiner in the redwoods

It’s a joy to witness an individual overflowing with passion for their own work.  Passion, though often thought of as a uniquely individual attribute, is a positive influencer that inspires others and breathes life into what can often be a mundane world.

However, when passion is not only applied to one’s own interests but is channeled into social good and action to help other people; its positive influence is immeasurable. It is a powerful tool for societal impact when individuals discover that which they love and focus that love into practical endeavors that enrich others’ lives.

Sammy Steiner, a senior in the Bandier Program in Recording and Entertainment industries within the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is such an individual whose deep love for music goes beyond the career she’s studying but is dedicated to helping the Syracuse community thrive. While she was completing an independent study course in the Bandier program, she created a service agency whose goal is to direct what she loves best —music— into transforming the city of Syracuse into a better place.

Her organization Eyes & Ears partners artists with local nonprofits to raise awareness for and support the social issues the nonprofits are tackling.  “Creating social change starts with the smallest wave. I really want to use the network that I’ve been given and connect with artists and help them use their platforms to spread awareness for issues they care about it. “

By partnering artists with a nonprofit working on an issue they themselves deeply care about and allowing the artists to choose how they want to support that organization; whether it be through raising awareness for the cause on their social platforms, starting fundraising campaigns, or financially contributing to the nonprofit; Eyes &Ears seeks to maximize the depth of commitment from artists and the positive impact for these social issues.

Steiner’s first and recent partnership paired electronic dance music artist Ekali with the local nonprofit ARISE, which provides disability and mental health services in central New York. This partnership was created with the help of the LaunchPad, which introduced Steiner to ARISE. In March, Ekali performed at The Westcott Theater and during the show Ekali encouraged his fans to support ARISE and donated a portion of profits from the show’s merchandise sales to the organization.

“The announcement was the highlight for me because by him saying that on stage people were really responsive and a lot of them went over and bought merchandise right away.” The impact of Eyes and Ears is one that directly betters organizations that seek to do good within Syracuse and beyond.

Steiner is committed to using her talents for social good because she’s acutely aware of her privilege as a Syracuse student. ‘We’re lucky enough to go to school but we’re in a community where they really do struggle with a lot of economic injustices.”’ In a university that has been noted for its tendency to detach from the city of Syracuse, Steiner’s work as a university student to give back to the city of Syracuse speaks to her spirit for the people around her. “If we’re privileged enough to go to school in a community that doesn’t have as many privileges as the students that there is a need for activism to reach beyond the borders of campus. I think a lot of people get caught up in the SU bubble.”

Even through the current barriers of social distance and physical separation from the Syracuse community, Steiner is unwavering in her commitment to help communities. Her latest project that invited kids from the Good Life Foundation, an organization dedicated to uplifting kids through hip-hop, to a local artist’s album release party may not be able to take place physically but she’s looking for ways to continue her work through social media outlets and livestreams.  She’s now expanding Eyes and Ears to projects in her home of Toronto, where she is currently living now that the Syracuse campus is closed.

Steiner plans to continue the good work of Eyes &Ears even after she graduates and hopes to work on social impact coordinating within her career. Her desire to use her talents for her community is apparent in her implementation of social service within her career and her perseverance to continue helping others despite the difficulties from the spread of COVID-19.

Quite simply, Steiner’s work through Eyes & Ears in using her interests and talents to outreach to her community has become her passion.   “It’s feeding my soul.” 

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow Claire Howard Sumbitted photo