A nonprofit run by Phish fan volunteers has mailed $11,000 in unsolicited grants to help restore music education at schools affected by storm disasters in recent months. The grants are part of a package – including partner grants, matching grants, and corporate support – totaling $25,000 for eleven disaster-impacted music programs in seven states.
The nucleus for the package involves $1,000 each for Joplin High School and Irving Elementary School in Joplin, MO, which will balloon to $16,000 through matches of cash and credit. Music programs in Joplin were decimated May 22nd when the single most destructive tornado since 1947 killed 134 people and wiped out 30% of the town, including 7,000 homes, the hospital, the high school’s auditorium and music room, and all of Irving Elementary. Those two donations, from the Mockingbird Foundation, will be matched in three ways. First, the Mimi Fishman Foundation, with whom Mockingbird has partnered on several occasions, has already sent $2,000 to the Joplin Relief Fund, to be directed to the same two schools Mockingbird is supporting. Second, both the Mockingbird and Mimi Fishman donations will be doubled through generous local matching offers; the Mockingbird donation will be doubled by the Oasis Foundation, as will any donation you make during the month of September. Third, Jupiter Band Instruments will be matching that doubled amount with an additional $8,000 contribution to music programs in Joplin, MO, in the form of discounted instruments and equipment – as well as the possibility of demos and extra inventory, in addition to the credit match.
To boot, the Mockingbird Foundation has made nine additional grants of $1,000 each for the repair and/or replacement of instruments, equipment, sheet music, and related materials at additional schools affected by recent disasters:
- North Ridgeville Middle School in Ridgeville, OH, where the worst damage from flooding February 28th hit the music room, destroying instruments.
- Tushka Elementary School in Tushka, OK, where a twister April 14th destroyed all of the schools in town, including the elementary school’s keyboarding program.
- Page Middle School in Gloucester, VA, which lost instruments when the band room was destroyed by an April 16th tornado that also destroyed homes and killed three residents.
- Alberta Elementary School and University Place Elementary School in Tuscaloosa, AL, destroyed by tornados April 27th
- Ringgold High School in Ringgold, GA, where an April 27th tornado destroyed the high school, whose band equipment is not covered by insurance.
- Tiger Creek Elementary School in Tunnel Hill, GA, where, after state cuts for the arts, the music program had been run by volunteers organized by former principal and 86-year-old Marine Rhea McClanahan, who was killed when his house, like much of Tiger Creek, was destroyed in the April 27th storms.
- Additionally, the Foundation is working to identify two music programs in Vermont that were impacted last week by Hurricane Irene. (It takes some time to assess damages and identify needs; so far, the music programs at all schools contacted have survived unscathed.)
The Mockingbird grants come from an Emergency Fund created in May 2006, whereby 3% of the Foundation’s gross revenues are designated for music education programs affected by disasters. “While disaster relief generally is outside our primary mission,” explained Executive Director Ellis Godard, “we can provide some immediate assistance towards restoring music programs. And we know that music, and education generally, can help provide the hope and relief which are particularly valuable at times such as this.”
Though smaller than the Foundation’s competitive grants maximum ($5,000) and far from sufficient to resolve the problems they target, these “emergency grants” are intended to help bring attention to their recipients’ unique needs and to remind potential donors about the importance of music education in the lives of underage disaster victims. “The children affected by these disasters need music now more than ever,” added Mockingbird President Marco Walsh. “We look forward to students in each of these communities learning and playing music again, as soon as possible.”
The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. was incorporated in 1997 by fans of the band Phish to raise funds for music education. With no salaries, staff, office, or endowment, it exists almost exclusively online, using the Internet for publicity, fundraising, all internal communications, and even to develop, produce, and distribute intellectual property. The Foundation is the leading provider of historical information about Phish and its music, having cultivated intellectual property through www.phish.net since 1994. The Foundation is able to disburse more than 98% of the funds raised to important and innovative programs serving diverse populations. The Foundation’s two-tiered application process (which does not include emergency grants) remains one of the most competitive in the nation, due to high demand and because of the niches it serves. Please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation through the Foundation’s website at www.mbird.org.
Phish is a rock band that started in 1983 and grew to become one of the highest-grossing live acts in the nation. The band donates a portion of proceeds from digital download sales at LivePhish.com to the Mockingbird Foundation, but has no formal or informal role in the Foundation’s management or operations. Phish will perform a special show on September 14th benefitting Vermont victims of Irene, through the Waterwheel Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation. For more information about Phish, please visit phish.net and phish.com.