The Presser Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports music education, music performance spaces and music collaborations. It gives special priority to the Greater Philadelphia area and provides program, operating, capital, emergency and scholarship support.

FUNDING AREAS: Financial aid for college and grad students, construction/renovations of music performance buildings, music teacher support, collaborations between music organizations, music groups in the Philadelphia area

IP TAKE: Some of Presser's grantmaking programs are more Philadelphia-specific than others. Local music groups have a good shot at general operating support for music education and capital support for construction or renovations of music performance spaces.

PROFILE: The Presser Foundation is based in Philadelphia and unique in that it is one of the very few private foundations in the U.S. solely dedicated to music education and music philanthropy. Theodore Presser was the publisher of Etude, a music magazine, and a philanthropist who established the Home for Retired Music Teachers in Philadelphia in 1906. The bulk of his fortune went to the Presser Foundation after his death in 1925.

Here’s a little background information provided by the Presser Foundation’s executive director, Teresa Araco Rodgers:

The Presser Foundation was formally established in 1939 under various deeds of trust of the late Theodore Presser. In the charter of incorporation, The Foundation’s purposes are set forth to promote primarily the cause of musical education and musical philanthropy as follows: to provide scholarships for promising students; to increase the value of music education by erecting suitable buildings; and to administer aid to worthy teachers of music in distress.

While The Foundation’s priorities have evolved over time, it has provided much needed funding to further the cause of music for over 75 years. It has been said that Theodore Presser wanted to give back to music what he had made from it. When he died in 1925, he left no children.  He had been widowed twice, and the bulk of his fortune was left to The Foundation.

The small staff and Board of Trustees continue to oversee the work of The Foundation.  The Foundation is fortunate to have had a founder who clearly stated the purpose which he desired to achieve.  The Board of Trustees includes prominent local and national leaders in music.  All Trustees share a passion for music and all are committed to carrying out the intentions of the benefactor.

These are the foundation’s five areas of grantmaking, and each one has its own set of deadlines.

  1. Financial awards to promising undergraduate and graduate students at qualified higher education institutions

  2. Grants for the construction and renovation of suitable buildings for musical instruction and performance

  3. Emergency aid to worthy music teachers in distress

  4. Support to innovative projects and collaborations between music organizations

  5. Operating support to worthy music organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area

Proposal deadlines can be found on the Grantmaking page of the foundation website. Only nonprofit music performance, presenting or educational organizations located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland within a 100-mile radius of Philadelphia are eligible to apply. Another grantmaking program with this geographical preference is for the advancement of music, which has a proposal deadline of November 15 and supports general operations. Grants are also made locally for special projects, such as non-capital projects outside the scope of the normal operations of a music organization, collaborative efforts between organizations, and efforts that the trustees encourage or initiate through a request for proposals.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)