D’Addario Foundation Introduces the Bridge Fund to Increase Equitable Music Education Access in Black Communities

Elizabeth Dale

In February, the D’Addario Foundation announced the launch of the Bridge Fund, an initiative specifically focused on bridging the gap between access to music education and the Black community.

Established over 40 years ago, the D’Addario Foundation has worked to overcome the decimation of music education in America’s schools by aligning itself with innovative community music programs. The Bridge Fund supports programs like Atlanta Music Project (Atlanta, GA); Buffalo String Works (Buffalo, NY); Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Nouveau Program (Cincinnati, OH); Cleveland Institute of Music’s Musical Pathway Fellowship (Cleveland, OH); HARPS Foundation (Richmond, VA); Project STEP (Boston, MA); Sphinx Performance Academy (Detroit, MI); Soulsville Foundation’s Stax Music Academy (Memphis, TN); The Roots of Music (New Orleans, LA); and West Point School of Music (Chicago, IL), among others. These programs, with support from D’Addario, not only work to restore access to music education by removing barriers to entry but nurture youth development, mentorship, and leadership. Editor’s Note: The Sphinx Performance Academy is a NAMM Foundation grant recipient.

D'Addario Bridge Fund Promo

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Donations to the D’Addario Bridge Fund go directly to funding these programs, with administrative costs absorbed by D’Addario, ensuring that the fund can have maximum impact on communities nationwide.

One of the newest additions to the Bridge Fund’s grantees is West Point School of Music and its Urban Music Makers Program. The program consists of a Black-led band and steel drum program that engages youth through free in-school and after-school music instruction and performance. The program’s goal is simple: to “build musical ensembles of 20 to 25 students drawn from 4th to 8th grade” and to teach them to read and perform music on one of the instruments from the standard concert band family.

West Point School of Music Concert

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The foundation's Executive Director Suzanne D’Addario Brouder said, “The Bridge Fund was established to bring attention to the essential contributions our supported programs are already making in predominantly Black communities and expand our commitment to programming, but also to expand our commitment to programming that resonates with those that identify as black and celebrates their authentic culture, talents, and desires. In our most recent grant application review, we identified that 51% of our grantee organizations are serving predominately (60% or more) students of color.”

D'Addario Brouder also highlighted the work of Johnathan Campbell, a recent high school graduate, and participant in Intonation Music, a D’Addario Foundation grantee program. After 11 years of participation in the program, Campbell earned a scholarship from the D’Addario Foundation and is attending Elmhurst University as a first-generation college student. To read about Campbell’s achievements, please visit https://foundation.daddario.com/news/johnathan-campbell/.

For more information on the D’Addario Foundation’s Bridge Fund, please visit https://foundation.daddario.com/bridge-fund/.

Editor’s Note: The Arts Education Data Project, found at https://artseddata.org/national_report_2019/ found that “a disproportionate number of public-school students without access to music and arts education are concentrated in schools in major urban communities; have the highest percentage of students eligible for free/reduced price meals; and are either majority Black, Hispanic, or Native American. In addition, many of these students without music and arts education attend public charter schools.”