The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating systemic change in the American public school system by restoring instrumental music programs and by raising public awareness about the importance of music education. The Foundation was created to address the inequity in availability of music education for students in many of the United States’ most challenged communities. Since its creation, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, working with local school districts, has restored music education programs in more than 1,900 public schools in nearly 231 school districts around the country, improving the lives of more than 2.3 million children across the United States. During that time, the Foundation has provided $51 million worth of new instruments to school districts across the country.
The VH1 Save The Music Foundation has developed a unique model to foster equitable access to comprehensive music education for all children. The Foundation develops strategic partnerships with school districts to restore music education programs in each public school within the district. To make certain that music programs remain a core part of the curriculum in public schools, and that the programs live on in perpetuity, the Foundation works with schools that have agreed to implement a sequential instrumental music program based on local, state, and national standards for music education.
Program and Policy staff members from the VH1 Save The Music Foundation work closely with superintendents, school board members, principals, arts coordinators, and music educators in each school district to identify schools that are eligible to participate. The Foundation works with local policy-makers and advocates to help ensure that schools that are not currently eligible to participate in the Foundation’s restoration of music education programs take the steps needed to become eligible. The Foundation works to enable every school within the district to have access to music education.
The Foundation provides a grant of instruments, valued at approximately $30,000 for each school to jump start the new music program. A school must conduct the instrumental music program as part of the regular school day, and provide the salary for a certified music educator for instruction. By guaranteeing that each grantee school hires a certified music instructor, the Foundation fosters a sustainable music program.
The grant of instruments provides the impetus for music programs to be restored, but this is only the beginning of our partnerships with school districts nation-wide.
Grantee school principals are provided with hands-on guidance in building an instrumental music program. The Foundation’s Program and Policy staff assists principals in developing their music program through workshops, personal meetings and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation’s Guide To Building An Instrumental Music Program. Music educators from grantee schools have the opportunity to attend professional development workshops that focus on growing their skills and building their music program.
There have been cases in some of VH1 Save the Music Foundation grantee school communities where school programs that had been jumpstarted by the Foundation were threatened to be eliminated. In each case a letter was sent to the principal of the grantee school and the school board members and superintendent from the school district stating concern about the pending elimination and stating the original agreement to maintaining the program made by the school district and meetings were set up to follow up with Senior Leadership in the school districts. In most all cases the programs were not eliminated.
The conversations that take place while advocating in local communities prove most effective when decision makers, community members, stakeholders, and funders are already familiar with the importance of music education. For this reason, VH1 Save The Music Foundation employs a number of strategies on a national scale to lay the groundwork for successful local advocacy. Below are examples from the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013:
School Leaders – The Foundation targets school leader conferences to spread the word about the vital need for music education. Each year, school administrators gather to share information that will enable them to make important decisions about the curriculum in their schools. Both the School Superintendents Association (AASA) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) have granted the Foundation and other music-education advocates a section of their convention spaces to be used as special pavilions devoted to spreading the word about the importance of music education. Since 2005, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has been joined by instrument manufacturers, retailers, and the SupportMusic.com coalition in the music pavilions.
Educational Workshops – The Foundation often provides workshops on the benefits of music education at AASA and NSBA conferences. The Foundation conducts Principal workshops in various grant-recipient communities.
Honors – In addition to providing workshops on the benefits of music education at the AASA and the NSBA conferences, the Foundation honors – in front of thousands of school board members and administrators from around the country – those school district officials who have been supportive of music education.
Advocacy Toolkit – The Foundation has developed a toolkit for community members, teachers, and administrators who need resources for local arts education advocacy efforts. The Advocacy Toolkit, a one-stop-shop for music advocates to build their case in supporting music education, is available on the Foundation’s website.
Principal’s Guide – The Foundation has developed a Building Your Instrumental Music Program Booklet that provides information to principals on getting started, next steps, standards, research, and other sources for additional information.
Master Classes – Master classes were conducted at various grant recipient schools during fiscal year ended September 30, 2015. Students had the opportunity to play for recording artists and learn about the recording artist’s own musical background, provide a master class for the students and perform some of the recording artist’s own music for the students.