The Lewis Prize for Music, a recently established philanthropic program dedicated to increasing access to music education, has announced inaugural grants totaling $2 million.
Established by philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis, whose father co-founded Northeast Ohio-based Progressive Insurance, the program invests in musical leaders working to build community, foster engaged citizens, and support the growth of young people through musical learning, performance, and creative opportunities. Over the next five years, the organization plans to award at least $15 million in grants.
Inaugural grants announced by the program include multiyear Accelerator Awards of $500,000 each to Sebastian Ruth and Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, to foster more egalitarian and inclusive musical practices by rethinking the Euro-centric norms of classical music; Ian Mouser and My Voice Music in Portland, Oregon, which works to heal young people in lockdown facilities through songwriting, recording, and performance; and Brandon Steppe and the David's Harp Foundation in San Diego, California, in support of the Beats Behind the Wall program, which helps incarcerated men and women develop job skills in demand by the music industry.
The program's Infusion Awards provide $50,000 grants over a year to leaders and programs focused on creating new musical platforms and pathways in historically marginalized and underresourced communities. Recipients include Clare Hoffman and the Grand Canyon Music Festival's Native American Composer Apprentice Project in Grand Canyon, Arizona, which will use the grant to inspire the next generation of Native music educators, and composers. And recipients of Finalist Awards, which provide a single year of support in the amount of $25,000 to leaders and programs that have demonstrated impressive impact and reach, include Joseph Conyers and Project 440 in Philadelphia, which works with teen musicians to develop the competencies they need to thrive as individuals and musicians, and Kassandra Verbrugghen and Salt Lake City-based Spy Hop Productions, which mentors young people in musical and digital media arts with the goal of helping them find their voice and affect positive change.
"My vision is to ensure opportunities to learn, perform, and create music are available to all young people," said Lewis. "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."
For a complete list of this year's awardees, see the Lewis Prize for Music website.
(Photo credit: David's Harp Foundation)