The inaugural class of awardees has just been announced for the Lewis Prize for Music, a newly established philanthropy that’s investing to facilitate positive change and increase access to music education. A total of nearly $2 million is being awarded to leaders of music programs and organizations across the country.
“My vision is to ensure opportunities to learn, perform and create music are available to all young people,” said Daniel R. Lewis, Founder and Chairman of The Lewis Prize for Music. “Ideally, this would be happening in every school, but that isn’t the case, especially in low-income and historically marginalized communities. It’s inspiring to see smart, focused, motivated leaders of community organizations addressing this gap by collaborating with schools and other youth services, such as foster youth, juvenile justice and other arts organizations.”
Lewis, whose father co-founded Progressive insurance company, spent most of his career there before retiring over 19 years ago and becoming an active philanthropist in the musical arts field. With this year’s launch of The Lewis Prize for Music, Lewis has committed to awarding at least $15 million over the next five years.
The inaugural class of awardees is divided into three categories: Accelerator Awards ($500,000 each), Infusion Awards ($50,000 each), and Finalist Awards ($25,000 each). Accelerator Awards provide multi-year support to enable leaders and organizations to make sustained progress toward ambitious community change initiatives. Infusion Awards provide single year support to leaders and programs creating new musical platforms and pathways in historically marginalized and under-resourced communities. Finalist Awards provide single year support to leaders and programs with impressive impact and reach who serve as national models.
● Sebastian Ruth and Community MusicWorks (Providence, RI) are identifying and rethinking the euro-centric norms of classical music to foster more egalitarian and inclusive musical practices.
● Brandon Steppe and The David’s Harp Foundation (San Diego, CA) have developed “Beats Behind the Wall” as a pathway for incarcerated young men and women to develop job skills through music
● Ian Mouser and My Voice Music (Portland, OR) bring songwriting, recording and performance to lockdown facilities, such as mental health treatment and detention centers, to help young people heal.
● Clare Hoffman and Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project (Grand Canyon, AZ) inspire the next generation of Native music educators and composers.
● Michael Reyes, Liz Stone and We Are Culture Creators (Detroit, MI) train and open employment pathways for 18-24 year-old music creatives.
● Eugene Rodriguez and Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy (San Pablo, CA) ensure children of immigrants feel pride, value their roots, and share their culture through the study of traditional Mexican music.
● Derrick Tabb and The Roots of Music (New Orleans, LA) support and instruct the next generation of New Orleans brass band musicians.
● Joseph Conyers and Project 440 (Philadelphia, PA) provide teen musicians with entrepreneurial training
● Kasandra VerBrugghen and Spy Hop Productions (Salt Lake City, UT) mentor young people in musical and digital media arts.
The Lewis Prize for Music received a total of 188 applications from 32 states and the District of Columbia. Awardees were chosen through a rigorous process that incorporated input from diverse music leaders and young people involved in creative youth development.