Goal: Remove barriers to music mastery for young instrumental musicians from underrepresented communities

Philadelphia, PA (February 1, 2017) – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made an unprecedented grant to a cohort of ten music education organizations in Philadelphia, with the end goal of increasing diversity in the professional classical music field. This multi-year, $2.532 million grant will identify and support the region’s most committed young musicians to ensure they are college ready and that they have the skills necessary to excel in conservatory, college, or university as music majors. The investment, granted to organizations within the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY), builds upon Philadelphia’s robust music education ecosystem, enhancing opportunities for collaboration to ensure that promising students can access the teaching and learning opportunities necessary to remove barriers to achieving the highest level of mastery.

Participating organizations from the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY), a collaborative of music education organizations serving elementary through high school students across Greater Philadelphia, include: Musicopia, Philadelphia Sinfonia, PYO Music Institute, Play On, Philly!, Project 440, School District of Philadelphia Office of Music Education, Settlement Music School, Temple University Music Preparatory Division, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Primavera Fund. Each organization serves an essential role in the region’s music education community and enhances student talent in a unique way.

“Working together with the participants in the PMAY collaborative has been incredibly enriching for all of us,” says Settlement Music School CEO Helen S. Eaton. “Our collaborations over the past five years have shown that each of the member organizations, aligned to a common goal, are much more than the sum of our parts. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can work to strengthen the supports that each organization already provides to students from underrepresented communities. Becoming a professional classical musician requires incredible dedication, sacrifice, devoted teachers and mentors, instruments, a myriad of learning opportunities, and much more that can be daunting without the necessary support. By working collectively to make sure our promising musicians can succeed, the PMAY collaborative can give them matchless opportunities for individual instrumental study, ensemble and chamber music study, summer study, audition assistance, and college preparation.” Settlement Music School will serve as the lead partner and act as the re-granting entity.

Maud Lyon, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, heralds the spirit of collaboration exhibited by the PMAY coalition. “This is a tremendous example of how our arts organizations make Philadelphia unique. Settlement and the PMAY coalition are breaking new ground in music education, creating an unprecedented collaboration that will have profound impact upon the careers of emerging musicians. This transformative grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a strategic long-term investment that ensures that talented young musicians, regardless of their resources or background, will have access to the incredible array of arts education opportunities that these organizations provide.”

The Mellon-funded program, titled “PMAY Artists’ Initiative,” will commence with musician recruitment in spring 2017. Approximately 75 students from throughout the Philadelphia region will be identified in the first cohort of students by summer 2017. Students will benefit from individualized plans especially tailored to help nurture the students’ abilities and improve their strengths to set them up for success.

A national search for a program manager, who will have expertise in collaborations, the orchestral field, and in music education, is underway.

Philadelphia is the first city in the nation to receive funding at this level from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the future of young musicians.


The Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) is a collaborative of organizations in the Philadelphia region dedicated to providing music education and performance opportunities to youth. The collaborative started in 2012, and its members share a commitment to improving communities through the regular study of music. Member organizations have formed topic-based working groups that are developing areas of focus and initiatives to expand the impact of its work and that of its member organizations.

Settlement Music School’s mission is to provide the highest quality instruction in music and the related arts to children and adults, without regard to age, background, ability or economic circumstances. Settlement’s broad range of programs, taught by highly credentialed and dedicated faculty, help students achieve artistic, educational, and social goals. Settlement provides 10,000 weekly services across six branches and over $2 million dollars each year in financial aid for its students.

Musicopia’s mission is to provide opportunities for children to experience, learn, perform, and appreciate music. Offering a wide range of in-school and out-of-school programs spanning Pre-K through 12th grade, and with a focus on economically underserved communities, Musicopia gives all children the opportunity to learn to play an instrument and be a member of a musical community. Through the operation of the Gift of Music instrument donation program, Musicopia collects and repairs used instruments to place them in the hands of a needy child or school.

Philadelphia Sinfonia is a premiere youth orchestra program that supports the full artistic growth of developing musicians through high level ensemble experience. We are recognized nationally for our musical excellence, our innovative curriculum, and our commitment to generous engagement in the musical, civic and global communities.

Now in its 77th year, the renowned PYO Music Institute organization is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected community music education and youth orchestra performance programs, providing talented young musicians from across the tri-state area with exceptional musical training by using extraordinary music education and the pursuit of the music excellence to build a strong sense of character, discipline, commitment and maturity in a diverse student population.

Play On, Philly! provides high quality, intensive music education to K-12 children in Philadelphia who would not have it otherwise as a vehicle to cultivate lifelong skills, including discipline, self-confidence, perseverance and collaboration. This tuition-free program runs for 2.5 hours every weekday after school and as a full-day, six-week summer program. All students are loaned a standard orchestral instrument and each student receives 600 hours of instruction and performance opportunities each year. On average, POP students score ten points higher on standardized tests than their peers, as well as earn higher grades in math and English. 100% of our seniors have graduated and gone on to college.

Project 440 educates, engages and inspires young musicians by providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow’s civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders. Project 440 is unique in the Philadelphia music landscape; we do not teach artistry. Through seminars, lectures, coaching and hands-on workshops in College & Career Preparedness, Leadership & Entrepreneurship, and Community Engagement & Interactive Performance, Project 440 teaches students to use music as a tool to create pathways to individual success and to give back to their communities. Project 440’s programs are presented free of charge to students in the School District of Philadelphia.

The School District of Philadelphia’s All City Program celebrates over 60 years of providing opportunities for student musicians from across Philadelphia’s public schools to engage in collaboration, learning, and performance with the city’s vibrant cultural community and world-class venues and institutions. Through All City, over 800 student musicians annually interact with world-renowned musicians and conductors, professional educators, and peers to develop musicianship, college and career readiness, and performance skills. All City represents the best of musical performance in Philadelphia schools.

ABOUT TEMPLE UNVERSITY MUSIC PREPARATORY DIVISION ( Temple Music Prep is the non-credit outreach and extension of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. Music Prep is uniquely able to offer students direct access to both the expertise of Temple University and the leading teaching artists of Philadelphia’s outstanding performing organizations. Music Prep’s mission is to provide high-quality, non-credit music and dance instruction to individuals in the Philadelphia region. Music Prep serves as the most significant point of access for the Boyer College and Temple University to impact and interact with the local community. The organization provides all services with access, equity and excellence as the guiding principles.

Serving as a cultural catalyst throughout Philadelphia’s many communities, The Philadelphia Orchestra has an offstage presence as strong as its onstage one. With Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a dedicated body of musicians, and one of the nation’s richest arts ecosystems, the Orchestra’s programs engage over 50,000 students, families, and community members. Its HEAR initiative represents the most comprehensive and dynamic community engagement in the Orchestra’s recent history. Spanning four categories—Health, Education, Access, and Research—HEAR is a portfolio of programs that promotes wellness, champions music education, eliminates barriers to accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through research, all throughout the Philadelphia region.

The Primavera Fund envisions a world in which every young musician is given the opportunity to succeed. Founded in 2014, The Primavera Fund provides mentoring, professional grade instruments, and full underwriting of the costs of musical training to financially challenged young musicians in Philadelphia. We work one on one with our students, their parents, and their teachers to create personalized learning plans uniquely crafted to each Artist’s path with the goal of preparing them for college and a career in classical music.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.