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Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute Announces 2018-2019 Grant Recipients for PlayUSA

Over $500,000 in Grants Awarded to Music Education Programs in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas

Buffalo String Works and MYCincinnati Selected for First Time

Growing PlayUSA Network Committed to Increasing Access to Instrumental Music Instruction Nationwide

(New York, NY, July 19, 2018)—Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) today announced the 2018–2019 grant recipients for PlayUSA, a program that supports a wide range of instrumental music education projects across the United States, all specifically designed to reach low-income and underserved students on a local level. For its fourth year, Carnegie Hall has selected 15 organizations, including 2 new partners, Buffalo String Works and MYCincinnati, for a total of $505,000 in grants. In addition to financial support, the grantees join a nationwide network of innovative organizations committed to providing transformative music education opportunities for youth across the country.

The new partners will receive one year of funding, and partners entering their second year will receive a two-year grant, both of which include consultation with Carnegie Hall staff, professional development for teachers, access to online resources and monthly webinars, and an invitation to a summer 2019 convening held in New York City. In addition, two intervisitations will be scheduled for fall 2018 and spring 2019 to give partners a chance to visit each other’s sites across the country. PlayUSA grants may be used to underwrite teaching fees for music instruction; purchase or rental of musical instruments as well as instrumental repair; and other programmatic costs.

“We are excited to welcome Buffalo String Works and MYCincinnati to the PlayUSA community and continue to support innovative organizations around the country that are bringing high-quality, thoughtful music education to local students,” said Sarah Johnson, Carnegie Hall’s Chief Education Officer and Director of the Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “PlayUSA is focused on improving teaching practice and making sure that artists and educators have the training and resources needed to make meaningful connections with their students. We look forward to collaborating and learning from one another in the coming year.”


About the New Grantees

Buffalo String Works (Buffalo, New York)
Buffalo String Works is a creative, grassroots program serving refugee students in Buffalo, New York, inspired by the international El Sistema model which cultivates students to be agents of social change. Founded and led by local musicians, Buffalo String Works (BSW) is a nonprofit organization providing high-quality music instruction on violin, viola, and cello, with students hailing from Syria, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Somalia. Recognizing the significance of music as a universal language, the organization offers a creative outlet for children and their families who are searching for a sense of belonging in their new home.

MYCincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
MYCincinnati (Music for Youth in Cincinnati) is a free, daily youth orchestra program of Price Hill Will. Founded on the idea that personal transformation can be achieved by striving towards musical excellence, students enrolled in MYCincinnati have the opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument, and play in an ensemble. MYCincinnati is inspired by El Sistema, Venezuela's revolutionary youth orchestra program that uses music as a vehicle for social change. Currently, there are 120 students enrolled in MYCincinnati's daily programming. 


About the Returning Second-Year Grantees

El Sistema Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
El Sistema Oklahoma has grown rapidly into a well-respected, successful and unique after-school program serving over 200 underserved public school children in the heart of Oklahoma City. El Sistema Oklahoma was founded by Cathy and Phil Busey, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and the Wanda Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University through a creative partnership. The mission of El Sistema Oklahoma is to serve the community by engaging children within an ensemble-based music program so they can share the joy of music making and grow as responsible citizens.

Enriching Lives Through Music (San Rafael, California)
Enriching Lives Through Music (ELM) is an El Sistema-inspired program sparking passion and community engagement through a deep connection to music. The free and intensive music programs serve 120 students from the Latino immigrant Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, California. The students work with top-notch teachers, mentors, and musicians to progress from a tune on the recorder to a symphony, salsa or samba on a classical instrument.

INTEMPO (Stamford, Connecticut)
INTEMPO is a music education and youth development organization that aims to make music education accessible, relevant, and inclusive by emphasizing multiculturalism and native instruments. Using bilingual music instruction on classical instruments as well as cross-cultural repertoire and instrumentation, INTEMPO's programs reflect the true composition of the Latino community in Stamford.

Kidznotes (Durham, North Carolina)
Kidznotes’ mission is to change the lives of youth in the Triangle region of East Durham and Southeast Raleigh through participation in youth orchestras, bands, and choirs, with instruments and classes offered entirely free of charge. The program engages students, pre-K through 12th grade, in an intense, fully integrated, out-of-school musical program that includes instrumental instruction, choir, music theory, general music, orchestra, and band. The classes are taught by teaching artists, professional musicians, and music teachers who are committed to teaching young students.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
For nearly 100 years, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has performed high-quality symphonic music, fostering tomorrow's audiences, elevating the careers of Michigan musicians, and contributing to the vibrant educational environment of Kalamazoo. Through an equity-oriented lens, the KSO seeks to apply the unique and positive power of music learning to improve the lives of children and families through impactful partnerships within the social and educational sectors. PlayUSA funding supports the development of Kalamazoo Kids In Tune (KKIT), an innovative after-school orchestra and youth development program serving 1st–9th grade students, as well as Orchestra Rouh, a new program serving children of refugee families recently resettled in Kalamazoo. KKIT is a partnership of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Opportunity Music Project (New York, New York)
The mission of Opportunity Music Project (OMP) is to create a community where all children—regardless of economic background—can pursue their passion for music and gain the valuable personal and collaborative skills associated with the rigors of learning an instrument. OMP began in April 2011 with seven students. The program has since grown each year, and now serves a community of 125 students ages 4–18 from all boroughs of New York City and New Jersey, offering a full range of educational programming. Of all New York City’s after school music programs, OMP provides the largest number of tuition-free private lessons, along with offering partial scholarships to many families. 


About the Returning Third-Year Grantees

Atlanta Music Project (Atlanta, Georgia)
The Atlanta Music Project’s mission is to inspire social change by providing Atlanta's youth the opportunity to learn and perform music in orchestras and choirs. Founded in 2010, the Atlanta Music Project (AMP) provides intensive, tuition-free music education to underserved youth right in their neighborhood.

Community MusicWorks (Providence, Rhode Island)
Founded in 1997, Community MusicWorks’ (CMW) mission is to create cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families, and musicians. CMW’s model is centered around the teaching, mentoring, program design, and performance activities of their musicians-in-residence, the MusicWorks Collective.

Music for Life (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Music for Life—from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO)—offers youth in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans the opportunity to study music intensively throughout the year in one-on-one and small-group settings with both LPO musicians and peers. Throughout the school year and during a summer session, LPO mentors help students learn music theory, instrument technique, and other ways to connect with music and harness the mental, physical, and creative prowess critical to healthy youth development.

The People’s Music School (Chicago, Illinois)
The People’s Music School, based in Chicago, is the only completely tuition-free music school of its kind in the country. The school is wholly devoted to increasing access to all the artistic, scholastic, behavioral, and societal benefits of music. In previous season, funding from PlayUSA has supported the growth and expansion of a new band program at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago’s South Side to celebrate the city’s rich musical heritage and serve as a cultural asset for the community. Continued support will make it possible for more students to take part in the program, which includes a rigorous multi-hour per week curriculum that consists of instrumental instruction, ensemble group experience, music theory, and performance.

Scrollworks (Birmingham, Alabama)
The mission of Scrollworks is to make music instruction and ensemble playing available to all, thereby developing character and sense of community. Young people of diverse racial, social, cultural, neurodiversity, and economic backgrounds are encouraged to explore and cultivate their musical talent and contribute to Alabama's musical culture.

Tocando (El Paso, Texas)
Tocando is the most recent education and outreach program of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by Venezuela’s highly successful El Sistema program, Tocando (“to play”) is designed to engage and empower disconnected youth at Title 1 elementary schools through intensive music instruction, academic tutoring, and performance opportunities.

Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York)
Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL) is Orchestra of St. Luke's after-school youth orchestra program, developed and carried out in partnership with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and local schools. Inspired by youth orchestra programs around the world that promote ensemble playing as an agent for social change, such as Venezuela's El Sistema, YOSL aims to provide children with an opportunity to excel musically, build lasting relationships, and learn essential life skills. 


About Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute

Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and is committed to giving back to its community and the field, sharing an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. More than half a million people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. This includes more than 450,000 students and teachers worldwide who participate in WMI’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3 through 5, made possible through Carnegie Hall partnerships with over 110 orchestras in the US from Alaska to Puerto Rico, as well as internationally in Canada, Japan, Kenya, and Spain.

For more information, please visit: carnegiehall.org/Education



Lead support for PlayUSA is provided by Fund II Foundation.

The Weill Music Institute's programs are made available to a nationwide audience, in part, by an endowment grant from the Citi Foundation. 

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