Meet Another Foundation Fighting the Good (Music Education) Fight

We recently looked at a $18,500 Grammy Foundation grant to a University of Kansas researcher to conduct the "most definitive investigation to date on why music matters in primary and secondary education." 

We'd like to present a far more cost-effective alternative.

If it's the benefits of music you seek, sit down, dim the lights, pour a cup of chamomile tea, and drop the needle on Ella Fitzgerald's version of "Cry Me a River." 

Investigation over. Music matters.  

Alas, school administrators may not be particularly jazzed about this approach—pun, of course, intended (in fact, we're surprised it took us so long. You can't imagine the restraint it took not to include "jazzed" in the title of this post). Fortunately, there's a Plan B for nonprofit music education organizations and musicians out there, and that would be the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation. 

The Pacific Palisades, California, grantmaker was created and funded in 1993 by Fitzgerald herself to use her success to help people of all races, cultures, and beliefs. According to the foundation, Ella hoped to make their lives more rewarding by "fostering a love of reading and music, as well as to enable disadvantaged members of our communities to achieve a better quality of life." 

And just as Fitzgerald made her mark by collaborating with some of popular music's most accomplished writers—"Cry Me a River" was penned by Arthur Hamilton, by the way—her foundation's grantmaking embraces the power of partnerships. Here are a few examples. 

  • Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Scholarships helps send children ages 10-17 to Camp Broadway's annual summer theater and music workshop program in New York City. 
  • The foundation is a founding funder of Jazz Appreciation Month, which is April. The National Museum of American History launched the program in 2002. (In a related and comforting note, the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation's website notes, "When humans make it to Mars, we’ll celebrate JAM there, too.") 
  • The foundation has sponsored Ella Fitzgerald Scholars at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

Click here to check out previous grant recipients.

To that end, we encourage you to check out a previous post asking if the tide has finally turned in favor of music education. Anecdotally speaking, the prognosis is good, and we can thank the collective efforts of grantmakers both large small for this encouraging shift.