Few people argue about the importance of instrumental music for young people. But having a band and an orchestra is an expensive undertaking for schools and students alike. Finding the dollars to buy instruments, especially in a school district or state where general education money is getting cut, presents challenges. Thankfully, there are organizations willing to help schools meet these challenges by providing donated instruments, money to buy instruments or general arts money that can help an instrumental program survive.
Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation (mhopus.org) has three programs to help provide instruments to needy students and schools. The Melody program provides instruments to Title 1 schools with instrumental programs already in place. The Special Projects program provides instruments to before and after school programs. The Michael Kamen Solo Award provides an instrument to a needy student.
The Potters Violin Outreach Program and the CodaBows program (astaweb.com) donates violins, bows, and other stringed instruments to individual students and schools. The American String Teachers Association administers both annual programs. The first program donates six violins to needy students while the second donates $5,000 worth of bows to schools and studios.
Other programs include VH1 Save the Music (vh1savethemusic.com), which has provided $47 million in new musical instruments to public schools; Hungry for Music (hungryformusic.com), which distributes donated instruments to schools; and Classics for Kids Foundation (classicsforkids.org), which purchases new stringed instruments for kids.
Some general music grants can be used to purchase instruments for schools. The Mockingbird Foundation (mockingbirdfoundation.org) provides grants to projects that promote music education for children. While they do not specifically purchase instruments for schools, these purchases can be part of a larger project.
The Music Matters grant of the Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation (heart.muzak.com) helps to fund school instrumental and music programs. Schools can use these grants to purchase instruments as well as fund other aspects of a program.
The Grammy Signature Schools program (grammyintheschools.com) provides $10,000 to school music programs based on excellence or need. Winners not only receive money, but they are also given a Grammy Award.
Some arts grants are available for any type of school art -- instrumental music, choir, theater, visual arts or dance. Explore these grant opportunities as a way of finding money for musical instruments. The National Endowment for the Arts (nea.gov/grants/apply/artsed) is the major provider of federal grant money for the arts and they have several grants available in the arts education category.
The Wallace Foundation (wallacefoundation.org) offers an Arts for Young People grant, which is available to schools and other organizations who are providing arts programs to young people.
Several corporate and foundation grants are available for general purposes that can include the purchase of instruments for schools. Target Corporation (target.com) supports the arts through its community grants. The Kinder Morgan Foundation (kindermorgan.com/community) gives money to public school education programs with the arts and instrumental programs being one of its focus areas. The Nickelodian Big Help Grants (nick.com/thebighelp) gives $5,000 to teachers to use in programs that help students succeed.