Some good news: A majority of schools in the United States have arts programs they are lucky enough to take for granted. But according to Henry Donahue, vice president and executive director of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, somewhere between 15,000 to 25,000 schools do not—and a disproportionate number of these schools serve students of color, children of immigrants and economically challenged areas, he explained in an interview with HuffPost. It’s these kids that the Foundation wants to reach. Three recent examples of the work they do everyday can be found in Newark, West Virginia and the Bronx.
On September 12, the Foundation kicked off a $5 million program to help the Newark Public Schools. “The Newark Public Schools system serves more low-income students than all other districts in New Jersey, and a majority of its K-8 schools do not have instrumental music programs. We are now working to change that by bringing music education to the students who need it most,” said Donahue. The event in Newark was the start of a five-year project to invest in music programs in approximately thirty-eight schools with demonstrated need. Each will receive about $60,000, including approximately $45,000 in new instruments and equipment and $15,000 for professional development, advocacy support, research, measurement and program evaluation.
The Foundation partnered with The West Virginia Division of Culture and History to award about $45,000 worth of equipment and books to each of seven middle schools in Berkeley, Jefferson, Hardy and Hampshire Counties in October. The donation is part of a multi-year giving program aimed at bringing instruments to all of the middle schools in West Virginia. Noah Lizer, band director at Martinsburg South Middle, told the journal-news.net, “Now that we have new equipment, the kids are really excited to practice. Funding for equipment is challenging, and our old equipment definitely wore out over time. So, this really allows the kids a chance to take home new equipment, practice with it, and have some responsibly caring for it.”
The cast of the Broadway musical A Bronx Tale, in collaboration with the Foundation, surprised sixth through 12th graders at the Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx with a brand new grand hybrid piano and keyboards. “Finding out about the new pianos was like Christmas morning in September,” the school’s music teacher Sarah Tomić told InsideEdition.com. “My kids love playing keyboards but there are never enough of them in the room, so when I found out they were coming, I was ecstatic and so were my kids.”
To learn more about VH1 Save The Music Foundation, click here.