ASCAP Foundation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: The ASCAP Foundation provides yearly grants to nonprofit organizations engaged in "music education and talent development programs that are consistent with the mission and objectives of the ASCAP Foundation," as well as a very long list of awards, scholarships, and other forms of recognition for musicians and composers at various stages of their development.

IP TAKE: The ASCAP Foundation extends their grant application process by invitation only, but all that is required to be considered is a cover letter and a great music program (preferably in music education). For returning grantseekers, the renewal process is much easier, so it can definitely pay off to get their attention. ASCAP also offers several smaller awards to individuals, primarily for composition.

PROFILE: The ASCAP Foundation was created in 1975 with funding from the estate of Jack Norworth, writer of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The foundation seeks to “operate and support vital programs that impact millions of music creators and music lovers of all ages every year.”  It funds music philanthropy through a combination of grants, scholarships, and awards.

ASCAP grant applications are made available by invitation only, so organizations must first submit a cover letter before attempting to apply for a grant. Grants are given to 501(c)(3) organizations that are engaged in educational programs for aspiring songwriters and composers and with missions in line with the foundation's stated goals.

The foundation does not consider grant requests for "general operating or administrative support or annual giving campaigns, capital purposes, endowments, deficit operations, recordings, purchase of instruments, marketing efforts or performance and production funding, nor do we purchase advertisements, sponsor events or donate equipment."

Past recipients of ASCAP funds include $4,000 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra "to provide local college-age music students with a variety of learning opportunities in the areas of new music and composition," $3,000 to the Operation Song songwriting program, and $5,000 to the Harlem School of the Arts.

Once an organization submits a cover letter, it will be reviewed and the foundation will decide whether to extend an application for a grant. Grantseekers who make the cut will be asked to submit a proposal. If an organization is ultimately selected for a grant, the renewal process is much easier and funds may be easier to come by the next time around.

ASCAP also has a large number of awards and scholarships; however, most of these are decided internally or available only to students at specific schools. But a few of them are open competitions:

SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Commission Competition - Two awards are given out annually, one to a high school or college student ($1,000), and another to a graduate student ($1,500). In addition to the prize money, winners have their works premiered at a Society of Composers, Inc. conference and recorded for an SCI CD series. The graduate winner also may have his or her score published in the SCI Journal of Musical Scores.

ASCAP/SEAMUS Commission and Recording Prize for Student Composers - Two awards of $1,250 (first place) and $750 (second place) are given to student members of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States who are enrolled in academic programs (high school through doctoral). The winners have their work performed at the SEAMUS National Conference, and the first place winner has his or her work recorded on a SEAMUS CD series.

ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize - This award recognizes "talented young composers who write for concert band" who are between the ages of 18 and 30. The winner receives $5,000 and is guaranteed a live performance of his or her composition by a prominent college band.

ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards - These awards recognize "books, articles and recording liner notes on the subject of music selected for their excellence." Seven awards are given annually: two for books on the Pop Music Genre ($500 each), two for books on the Concert Music Genre ($500 each), one for an article on the Pop Music Genre ($250), one for an article on the Concert Music Genre ($250), and one for linear notes ($500).

Morton Gould Young Composer Awards - "Open to composers of original, classical concert music, the Award encourages developing music creators during the earliest stages of their careers," i.e., those under the age of 30. The prize amount is not fixed.

Rudolf Nissim Prize - This $5,000 prize honors composers of concert music. Applicants must be members in good standing of ASCAP.

Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards - These awards support "talented young jazz composers during the earliest stages of their careers," i.e., who are under the age of 30. The prize amount is not fixed.

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