Jazz Education Network: Grants for College Performing Arts

OVERVIEW: The mission of the Jazz Education Network (JEN) is to broaden the “jazz arts community” by increasing exposure to an interest in jazz. It does this in part by providing scholarships and other forms of support for postsecondary students concentrating on this genre.

IP TAKE: Institutional awards are not this funder’s focus, but jazz performers (and the occasional researcher) may receive scholarship awards to support their studies.

PROFILE: The Jazz Education Network (JEN) “is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance, and developing new audiences.” Founded in 2008, it is now an international organization with a presence in all 50 states.

While its giving programs are not limited to higher education, JEN does offer awards to university jazz students and scholars as well as postsecondary institutions, all of which fall under the banner of its focus on Advancing Education.

For high school and college students, JEN offers a number of different scholarships. Applicants may either nominate themselves or be nominated, and submit a single application that will be considered for any award for which they are deemed eligible. Current scholarships include:

  • The David Baker Scholarship, a $3,000 award for “a university student who demonstrates talent, spirit, and commitment to the field of jazz studies”;
  • The Hal Leonard Collegiate Scholarship, established with the Hal Leonard Corporation, gives $1,000 to a “university student entering or continuing their collegiate jazz studies”;
  • The Mary Jo Papich JEN Co-Founder Women in Jazz Scholarship gives $1,000 “to honor Women in Jazz at the university level”;
  • The Mary Ann Fischer Scholarship Award, which also gives $1,000, is dedicated “to support[ing] a deserving high school student bassist entering their collegiate jazz studies the following year.”

All scholarship applications are due in mid-October, with winners announced at the beginning of November.

While it does not appear to include direct funding, JEN also facilitates a broadened experience for high school and college students through its Jazz Mentor Program. Through this program, the network connects “student musicians and experienced master-level musicians,” facilitating a mentorship “designed to provide the student with additional tools towards fostering a productive, well-rounded career as a professional musician.” Mentorships are available to students in music production, performance, composition, education, festival production and artistic direction, conference production, journalism, publishing, and technology.

Music composition is also encouraged through the network’s Young Composer Showcase. Open to students in four age and education categories (high school, college, graduate, and postgraduate), student composers submit their work, with 4-6 winners being selected “for performance at the JEN Young Composer Showcase Presentation during the annual conference, with the composers being invited to attend the conference and hear a professional performance of their music” as well as considered for publication by Alfred Music Publishing.

A more narrowly focused award is the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation/Jazz Education Network Research Fellowship (EFCF/JENRF). Developed in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, the fellowship provides funding to support related research using the Smithsonian's archival collections at the National Museum of American History in Washington. D.C. One recent fellow, for example, used the award to support her research on Duke Ellington.

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