Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffett, IRS Lend Hand to Unusual Effort

A group of Phish fans has donated over $170,000 to fund music education for children, including eight new grants this week that benefit low-income, minority, and gifted children from California to Connecticut and Kentucky to Kosovo. The funds will bring new instruments, instructors, curricula, and professional development for teachers to a wide range of settings and musical genres.

The funds come from sales of the 928-page Phish Companion and the double-CD Phish tribute Sharin’ in the Groove. Each was produced by the Mockingbird Foundation, an entirely unconventional organization that has no salaries, paid staff, or office, and donates all funds possible to charity. Other than products and grants, it exists almost entirely online, utilizing the Internet to avoid travel and other expenses typically associated with grant-making entities.

The Foundation was recently granted tax-exempt (501c3) status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Donations are tax deductible and will immediately help finance future grants currently being considered. For donations made as a gift, the Foundation will send an acknowledgement letter to the gift recipient as well as the donor.

The Foundation also recommends Sharin’ in the Groove as a “stocking stuffer” for anyone. Sharin’ features Phish covers by 24 acts, including Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffett, Arlo Guthrie, Hot Tuna, the Wailers, Tom Tom Club, Little Feat, John Scofield, a marching band, a symphony orchestra, and a barbershop quartet. Since the artists donated their time and expenses and no record labels were involved in the release, the 2-CD package retails for only about $12, most that for charity.

The Foundation’s newest grants support a community-wide instrument loan program in Yucaipa, CA; bluegrass master classes for at-risk children in Flemingsburg, KY; a performing arts center in Richmond, CA; a summer music program for low-income teens in Philadelphia, PA; a world drumming program in New Haven, CT; a jazz residency program in Flushing, NY; a Zimbabwean miramba ensemble in Sioux City, IA; and the Kosovo Children’s Music Initiative. Additional details about Mockingbird grants are available on the Foundation’s website: