2023 Grants Challenge

Student Scholarship Program

Neighborhood Music School offers low-cost, high quality private music instruction on a variety of instruments, and while our tuition is designed to be affordable, over one third of our families require additional financial assistance to participate in our programs. An LA2050 grant will support our Student Scholarship Program, which includes both financial aid (41%-75% tuition support) and COVID-19 relief (25%-95% tuition support).


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

East LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Our neighborhood of Boyle Heights is one of Los Angeles' oldest and was known as "the Ellis Island of the West Coast" due to its large and diverse immigrant population throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Boyle Heights was negatively impacted by federal redlining practices during the 1940s and 50s, which has left generations of residents financially marginalized. At NMS, more than 70% of our students live in low-income zip codes (as defined by the U.S. Census) and less than 38% of students receive music education in their day schools.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Neighborhood Music School created its Student Scholarship Program to mitigate financial barriers to participation and ensure that every family can afford high-quality music instruction and mentorship. Although our tuition is designed to be affordable, over 33% of our families require financial assistance to participate in our programs; this number grew due to the pandemic. Our Scholarship Program includes financial aid (41%-75% tuition support) and COVID-19 relief (25%-95% tuition support). Students apply for scholarships every six months (applications in January/July, awards begin in March/September) to account for any household financial changes. The Student Scholarship Program also sustains the tuition-free Ensemble Program, which includes Jazz Ensemble, String Ensemble, Coro, and Community Band. Our Student Scholarship Program provides equitable financial support and access to high-quality music education. We offer lessons on a wide range of instruments, including standard band and orchestra instruments; acoustic, classical, and electric guitar; electric bass, ukulele, and voice. Students typically take one lesson per week on the instrument of their choice, and many play multiple instruments. NMS hosts six public recitals during the year along with monthly "works in progress" performance weeks (Showtime!), offering ample opportunities for students to perform and share their progress.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

When students have access to high quality instruction and personal mentorship, the whole community of Los Angeles benefits. Students take pride and care in their investment, while sharing individual and collective journeys through music. The power of accessible arts education at every level of development is the focus of much study, yet neighborhoods with lower income tend to be left behind. It is evident in our own Boyle Heights neighborhood, where only six of the thirteen public K-12 schools closest to our facility offer music instruction. Music education develops fine motor skills, reading ability, self-regulation, and confidence. In doing so, students learn how to apply music skills to academic and life challenges. This same determination applied to other situations leads to mastery and positive self-image. Our goal is for all students in LA County to have caring mentors lead them through their artistic and personal journeys.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

One of the unique components of our school is our focus on transformation through music at all levels. All ages and abilities are encouraged and nurtured at NMS. We regularly see outstanding results from our students that extend beyond their music lessons. The success of our program is determined by completing the following objectives: 1) Fund scholarship awards for all those who require financial assistance. 2) Build community presence and visibility of program access through outreach performances, instruction, and enrichment. 3) In collaboration with our community partners, provide professional development opportunities for our Student Scholarship Program participants. 4) Connect our students to the vast cultural offerings of Los Angeles. Metrics are kept in the number of students receiving scholarship, depth of scholarship, and participation in programmatic offering and opportunities. The need is evident, as the number of applicants increases each application period.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 1,000