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As the COVID-19 public health emergency began to develop, The Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to music education, began fundraising efforts to grant money to programs that were actively developing strong responses to challenges presented by the pandemic. In the past, the Foundation had issued Emergency Response Grants on a regional basiArtwork by {https://joseanrivera.com/|Josean Rivera}, used with permissions, such as in the aftermath of a natural disaster. But the pandemic presented a national-level crisis with both immediate and long-term effects, and we knew it would cause seismic shifts not only in musical teaching techniques, but also in governmental and charitable funding of music programs nationwide.

Mockingbird announced the COVID-19 Relief fundraising effort at the end of May. We allocated $25,000 of existing funds to launch this effort, while asking the Phish fan community to donate $25,000, which we pledged to match, totaling $75,000. Not only did the community help us reach the goal within only two months, their collective donations were double that goal! We are thus able to fund $100,000 in grants for this round of emergency giving. We cannot thank all of our donors enough for your amazing support of music education!

Hundreds of individual donations were made through our fundraising channels over the summer. Many of the donations were exceptional and substantial, and there were sizable donations not only from new donors but from long-time donors as well. Among the donations, sadly, were numerous tributes to family members and friends lost to COVID-19, dramatizing its impact on our community and the communities of many other music fans nationwide.

Our community’s spectacular fundraising response inspired us to promptly identify needy programs that were facing new challenges arising from the pandemic. We developed different criteria to review previous applicants and grantees, and also examined inquiries submitted for our 25th Round of annual giving within approximately the last year, the application period for which concluded on August 1st. In addition, we researched outside our customary channels for organizations that were creatively providing - or seeking funds to try to provide - musical education to students in this time of unprecedented challenges.

Mockingbird announced our first COVID-19 Relief Response grant to Girls Rock Detroit on June 25th, one month after launching the campaign. The $5,000 grant helped their summer camp to continue virtually after they lost the ability to host in-person fundraising events. One week later, we announced that Heartbeat Music Project in Crown Point, New Mexico, would receive $5,000 to support their music education program for Navajo (Diné) children living in the Navajo Nation, which suffered COVID-19 related illnesses and deaths disproportionately to other regions.

Our next grant for COVID-19 Relief, announced on August 7th, was for $5,000 to A Place Called Home, who is offering 45 online classes a week for families in South Central Los Angeles. The grant will assist them in providing virtual music instruction by ensuring that South Central Los Angeles students have the technology and materials to access the classes. Two weeks later, we announced a $5,000 grant for Harmony, Hope, and Healing, an organization in Chicago that was able to quickly move all of its music classes online. Focused on supporting individuals as they heal from traumas associated with homelessness, violence, incarceration, and addiction, Harmony, Hope, and Healing will use the funds for technological investments and to acquire additional instruments for their participants.

Then, on Saturday, August 29th, Phish’s charitable organization, The Waterwheel Foundation, announced that The Mockingbird Foundation would be the recipient of donations generated by the Dinner And A Movie Episode 23 triple-feature of webcasts from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, over Labor Day weekend. This gracious gesture by Phish and WaterWheel presented us with a unique opportunity to shine a brighter light on many remarkable music education programs and amplify their powerful messages more resoundingly than we could have ever hoped.

Mockingbird Board members - all volunteers - then proceeded to work on an expedited basis with numerous grantees to complete the necessary paperwork to issue more grants. Everyone acknowledged the need for speed, because we wanted to announce them during the course of the weekend’s webcasts.

With great thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and grantees, The Mockingbird Foundation is honored to announce the remaining 20 grantees chosen to receive an unsolicited Emergency Grant as part of our COVID-19 Relief Response. Please join us in recognizing the unique visions of the following organizations and their genuine dedication to high quality music education:

  • Artists Corps has taken an active role helping organize the response in New Orleans, one of the hardest-hit cities in the United States by the pandemic. They will use a $5,000 grant to support artist and clinician opportunities for students.
    Artists Corps Music Education Director with musician and educator Ellis Marsalis, who passed away on April 1, 2020. following battle with COVID-19.
  • Atlanta Music Project will use $5,000 to help offset new expenses for acquiring the necessary technology to ensure that their students experience the highest technical quality instruction from their Teaching Artists, who are paid, local, professional, degreed musicians and music educators.
  • Baucom Elementary School in Apex, NC, plans to spend its grant for $500 on equipment necessary for its 700 students to receive as close as possible to in-person sound quality and a life-like view of their music teacher in virtual environments.
  • Beyond the Natural will use its $5,000 grant to provide take-home toolkits for its Baltimore after-school program; the kits will include the instruments and technology necessary for kids to participate in both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
    Students of Beyond the Natural
  • Building for the Arts of New York City quickly pivoted within days of school closures to provide a free version of its widely adopted Music and the Brain in-school curriculum, which they seek to improve considerably with the help of their $5,000 grant.

    Building for the Arts students at home with their Music and the Brain curriculum.
  • Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will put $2,000 toward the cost of professional videographers to record and edit their string and wind quintet programs over the course of four sessions, recordings that will then be used in their virtual learning programs.
  • Denver Children's Choir plans to us their $5,000 grant to bolster their all-new entirely digital learning platform, which they expect will continue to be an important part of their services even after some sense of normalcy returns, hopefully in 2021.
  • GiGi's Playhouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, who has transitioned to fully virtual programming through at least the end of 2020, received $5,000 to invest in content production and instruments for home participation by their students with Down Syndrome.

    Student and Parent at Gigi’s Playhouse.
  • Global Z Recording brought its students together virtually before the current calamity to create commercial-quality productions and cross-cultural connections, and will use its $5,000 grant to begin Phase II of its American Indigenous Music Project.

    Global Z Recording student preparing to record.
  • Harmony Program provides an average of 500 hours of instruction per year to each of its 500 students from disadvantaged schools in New York City, and has been fully online since March. Its remarkable work will be partially funded by a $5,000 grant.
  • Lighthouse Music Program for the Blind and Visually Impaired, recipient of a $5,000 grant, developed a response with their students in Miami, Florida, to move to one-on-one virtual instruction through instrument lending, advanced technology, and an interactive copyrighted Distance Learning Braille Music curriculum that is in global demand.

    Lighthouse Music Program student.
  • Music Center Northwest needs and will use its $2,500 grant to help fund the installation of a new hard-wired network to accelerate its capacity to efficiently host its critically important ensemble programs that require real-time collaboration.

    Music Center Northwest parent and student in Zoom class.
  • Music for Minors received $5,000 to support its pre-K–6th grade Adaptive Music Program in 951 classrooms at 67 schools across Silicon Valley. The program is intended to fluidly respond to changes in attendance requirements caused by COVID.
  • Open Tone Music will use its $5,000 grant to improve the rich and varied music education programming now happening virtually twice a week in Akron, Ohio, which they plan to continue at least throughout this fall.
  • Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon, responded with its very own Virtual Camp Rocks (VCR) program instead of canceling their yearly summer camp. They are now adapting to a hybrid after-school program with help from their $5,000 grant.
  • Rock to the Future began a contactless instrument loan program to facilitate at-home learning in April, and will use its $5,000 grant to further support programs originally developed to complement the hybrid teaching model that schools adopted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.
  • Roma Independent School District Mariachi in Starr County, Texas, receives $1,000 for its exemplary response to the circumstances required to keep schools safe, highlighted by a viral video it released of its Zoom practice at the end of the last school year.

    Roma ISD Varsity Mariachi released its first “Practice at Home” video on March 25, 2020.
  • Rosie's House offers ten different free programs to pupils in Phoenix, Arizona, across a wide variety of musical styles, and their $5,000 grant will help develop effective virtual programs that will keep their 500 students engaged in their education despite distancing.
  • South High Community School of Worcester, Massachusetts, will use $1,000 to invest in acoustic guitars and electronic keyboards for students to take home during virtual learning and to supplement their ensemble instruction when school returns to normal.
  • Washington Middle School Music Department of Kenosha, Wisconsin, plans to use a $3,000 grant to transition its instruction to be centered more around percussion to promote social distancing, as COVID makes wind and voice ensembles less safe.

    Empty Washington Middle School band hall prepared for social distancing.
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