How the Presser Foundation Supports Special Music Projects in Philadelphia

This past summer, we introduced you to the Presser Foundation, a Philadelphia-focused funder that is all about music philanthropy. Back then, we had a conversation with the foundation’s executive director, Teresa Araco Rodgers, and learned that Presser is open to evaluating new grantees in all five areas of its grantmaking. These areas are financial aid for college and grad students, construction/renovations of music performance buildings, music teacher support, collaborations between music organizations, and music groups in the Philadelphia area.

However, it’s important to note that Presser doesn’t strictly stick to these focus areas with its giving. In fact, the foundation recently announced 11 special projects that it will support through single-year and multi-year grants. Presser’s end-of-2016 special projects grants totaled $290,700.

So what does Presser look for in special projects grantees?

To start, Lucinda S. Landreth, president of the board of trustees, commented that the projects are “innovative, compelling, and fill a clearly defined community need.” The foundation’s special projects committee was established in 1998 to consider requests outside its normal areas of giving and outside music groups’ normal areas of work. This is an opportunity for one-time projects, activities outside the scope of a music organization’s usual operations, and collaborative efforts between music organizations. The committee identifies such projects and recommends them to the trustees to fulfill the foundation’s mission of supporting music education and philanthropy.

In short, this is where Philadelphia music groups can come for rare, uncommon, and occasional needs. These grants tend to stay within a 100-mile radius of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. Presser isn’t opposed to awarding multi-year special projects grants for efforts that will take more than a year to complete. Proposal deadlines for special projects grants is October 15, and applicants will be notified of the foundation’s decision by January 1.

Several recent special project grants went toward festivals, including an organ festival and a Bach festival. The Philadelphia Orchestra also received a grant for its Bernstein Centennial Celebration, for example. Meanwhile, other Presser project grants went to the Bucks County Choral Society, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to these special project grants, the foundation also made multi-year commitments totaling $49,000 to Astral Artistic Services, Rider University – Westminster Choir College, and Project 440. The next Presser deadline coming up is for capital support grants, for which proposals are due February 1. Remember that this foundation encourages phone calls from prospective grantees, so give the Presser staff a ring before sending any materials. From that point, the application process is all online. This is one of the few foundations in the country that is exclusively dedicated to music education and music philanthropy, which is very fortunate for groups in Philadelphia.