A Closer Look at The Les Paul Foundation's Support For Music Education

Here at IP, we've profiled foundations committed to teaching kids jazz. We've also looked at foundations committed to teaching kids guitar. But what about — you guessed it  — jazz guitar?

Enter the New York-based Les Paul Foundation.

The mission of the Les Paul Foundation is to inspire innovative and creative thinking by sharing the legacy of Les Paul through supporting music education, engineering and innovation as well as medical research. (On occasion, grants for general operating and capital support may be considered.) To this end, the foundation:

  • Awards grants to music, music engineering, and sound programs that serve youth.    
  • Establishes music-related scholarships at schools and programs for students.    
  • Provides grants for medical research and programs related to hearing impairment, and
  • Supports public exhibits displaying Les Paul’s life achievements.

For today's purposes we'll focus on the first two bullet points while adding one huge caveat. Preference is given to music programs that are related to the guitar (which naturally makes sense considering Paul was one of the 20 greatest guitarists to ever walk the Earth).

One such recipient of a Les Paul Foundation music grant is the Birch Creek Performance Center, based in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. The center offers students ages 14 through 18 a two-week escape to focus on music, with an emphasis on jazz guitar.

The center uses funding from the Les Paul Foundation to send kids to these performance camps. "The immediate use for the money that the grants offer is for scholarships so kids can attend the jazz sessions — either one of them," said Rick Haydon, professor of guitar and director of jazz studies. "During the school year, we do outreach things where we’ll go to different schools and do clinics and stuff like that."

Grants are availalbe to US-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Check out the grant inquiry form here. The foundation is currently accepting applications for the current funding cycle. The application deadline is September 15 and the decision date is December 1.