LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Tuition-Free Music Ensembles Program

LAMusArt's Tuition-Free Music Ensembles program is a free, year-round music program that teaches up to 150 young East LA students musical repertoire, theory, and technique in an equitable setting. The program is divided into five cohorts - Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Mariachi, Youth Orchestra, and Strings - and places emphasis on collaborative musicianship and high caliber performance. Students as young as 7 through seniors attend weekly rehearsals (between 1-2 hours) with their ensemble to learn culturally specific styles of music at no cost.


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?

The need for K-12 STEAM education, and arts learning specifically, has only grown in recent years as the need for innovation, critical thinking and holistic development grows among young people. The benefits of integrating problem solving, collaboration and creativity into education is crucial in equipping the next generation with the skills, tools and knowledge necessary to grow socially, academically and behaviorally. STEAM education has been proven to benefit students (studies have shown STEAM education improves cognitive development and academic achievement, and impacts students economically - the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in STEAM-related occupations of 8% between now and 2029, compared to 3.4% for non-STEM occupations) and yet disciplines like the arts are often the first to be defunded or the last to be prioritized. STEAM Education integration is imperative to the well-being of LA's youth - especially those in underserved areas like the community we serve.

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

LAMusArt's Tuition-Free Music Ensembles program provides a key component of STEAM education - the arts - to hundreds of students in East LA by imparting free, weekly music instruction to youth starting at age 7 during out-of-school hours. The program is composed of 5 ensembles; the Choir (focusing on secular music and vocal technique), Youth Orchestra (highlighting chamber orchestra pedagogy/performance), Jazz Ensemble (a pre-professional group practicing Latin jazz styles and improv), Mariachi(s) (exploring the import of learning & playing Mexican folk music) and String Ensemble(s)(centering on string instruction, namely violin and viola) - all of which offer students the valuable experience of collaborative musicianship through culturally specific repertoire and fundamental technique. The program offers 1-2 hours of rehearsal/instruction per week, per ensemble year round and all cohorts perform for the public at least twice a year. Students are able to join free of barriers, including cost and ability. The program fosters creative learning that isn't often provided in schools. The arts constitutes a vital core requirement, yet access has been historically under-resourced and inconsistent. LA Unified's Arts Equity Index found in 2016 that 60% of schools were lacking in the arts. The artistic vision that drives the program is an arts ecosystem that's inclusive and equitable, and is designed to replenish productive alternatives for our youth to develop themselves holistically.

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

Los Angeles has the highest concentration of entertainment workers in the country, yet arts education and creative development is the first discipline to be slashed. As the only multidisciplinary organization serving East LA, we aim to reinvest in the thriving creative mosaic of our city by providing equitable opportunities for our predominantly Hispanic/Latinx community to engage in meaningful arts learning. With expansive arts instruction along with opportunities to produce and present, our program isn't just a cross-section of diversity and inclusion among students and teachers, but a convergence of artistic, technical, and practical experiences that translate to viable tools for a well-rounded life. Program success will contribute to the diversification of LA's creative ecosystem, marked by scores of young students with buildable, dynamic, and fluid skills garnered through artistic education.

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

We measure impact by incorporating a combination of metrics, student assessments/surveys, and evaluation based on our curriculum standards. Active participation is a measure of success in itself. The arts engagement opportunities we provide are actively filling education gaps left by schools - 60% of our students report that their schools don't offer arts education courses, and they're therefore bereft of those benefits without our free program. We measure and document successful outcomes by counting the number of students retained, number of lessons given, amount of students increasing their participation and number of audience members at performances. We aim for these numbers to increase each year and we gather demographic info to indicate the scope of impact and future needs. We also measure impact with anecdotal testimony. We mark optimal success by students who realize their own skill/progress, and recognize the arts as a value system.

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

Direct Impact: 150

Indirect Impact: 2,500