Mission: To identify musically talented students from groups underrepresented in the field of classical music and provide them with comprehensive music and string instrument instruction while setting the highest standards for disciplined study and performance.
About the Organization: Launched in 1982, Boston-based Project STEP (String Training Education Program) envisions a world in which the classical music profession fully reflects the country's racial and ethnic diversity. At the beginning of the 1980s, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra began to wonder why there were so few musicians of color in orchestras around the country. In response, and with support from BSO and other Boston-area funders, William Moyer, then BSO's personnel manager, helped design and launch Project STEP to provide students from local communities interested in pursuing a career in classical music career with the necessary training. The initiative graduated its first two students in 1988 and since then has introduced more than fifteen hundred children to classical music through its programs. What's more, every Project STEP graduate has gone on to college or conservatory.
Current Programs: The organization's programs are organized by age and include FOCUS (kindergarten), Youth Preparatory (grades 1-2), Preparatory (grades 3-5), Junior (grades 6-8), and Senior (grades 9-12). Students accepted into the program receive weekly private lessons and instruction in music theory and solfège, chamber and orchestral music coaching, recital and summer study opportunities, and semi-annual workshops; attend and report on at least two performances by an established artist or ensemble; receive semi-annual performance evaluations; and benefit from continuing guidance as they move onto the conservatory or university level and beyond.
Website: Visitors to the Project STEP website can learn more about the organization's programs, catch up on the latest news from the organization, browse a photo gallery or videos, check out the public events calendar, and/or make a donation. Parents interested in enrolling their children in the Project STEP program also can learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply.
Funding: Project STEP is funded by individual donations and foundation and government grants; in-kind donations from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory, and Boston University; and annual program fees.