2023 Grants Challenge

Youth Everywhere Sing! L.A. Youth Chorus

Los Angeles Master Chorale will develop and launch the pilot of its brand-new Youth Chorus Initiative (name TBD) in fall 2024. The Youth Chorus is a free, inclusive, community-based choral singing program held after school that aims to build on singing's unique capacity for expression and connection to empower historically excluded youth in grades 5 - 12. Youth choir members will develop confidence, closeness with others, and greater tolerance of difference. All with the human voice.


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?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

Other:: Huntington Park

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

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

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

Los Angeles is among the most diverse cities in U.S. but remains one of the most segregated, Generational lack of investment in many parts of Los Angeles - the result of codified racist housing practices - has led to a lack of quality music and arts education in those areas. Though the Chorale has a long history of delivering potent music education in areas with far less access to resources, precisely because of systemic exclusion, we feel strongly that we can do even more to help right longstanding imbalances in access and equity. Our education partnerships include several schools in East and Central L.A. - areas in the lowest quartile on the California HPI scale. Huntington Park scores 14 on average, and East Los Angeles scores 15.8. Both communities are under consideration as potential pilot sites for the initial Youth Chorus launch. Deepening and broadening our community education to transform the lives of BIPOC students is one way in which we are addressing inequality.

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

The Youth Chorus Initiative is a comprehensive, free, inclusive, community-based choral singing program that aims to build on singing's unique capacity for expression and connection to empower historically excluded youth in grades 5 - 12. We will pilot the free after-school choir in Fall 2024 with 50-60 children in 5th grade. The Youth Chorus will be fully realized in eight years for students through high school. Each year, the program will culminate in a free concert for families, teachers, and community members. Our Youth Chorus will be open to all regardless of musical skill or financial means and will be based in the community we seek to serve, filling a void in music education for L.A. youth who lack equitable creative learning opportunities. The Youth Chorus seeks to advance equity by eliminating barriers preventing youth who live in less well-resourced areas from accessing music education that can lead to arts careers and a lifetime of singing. The Chorale strives to be a leader in engaging the diverse individuals and communities that comprise Los Angeles, our home. As Artistic Director Grant Gershon told the Los Angeles Times, "As a conductor, you simply cannot get by on being just a great musician. You have to be an advocate. You have to be somebody who thinks about music and its role in society."

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

Decades of research shows that singing together has the power to improve mental health and bring people together. Group singing correlates with incomparable riches: optimism, resilience, socio-emotional well-being, civic engagement, and more acceptance of others. Lifting one's voice in song is accessible to almost all and powerfully benefits human well-being. If Youth Chorus is successful, young people will have a place to lift their voices and bond with their peers - that same place will be a supportive, inclusive musical hub for the surrounding community. All neighborhood youth will have access to the power of singing, regardless of geography or finances. Ultimately, to realize the Youth Chorus will be to realize the 100-year promise of the Chorale to Los Angeles. We envision a city in which choral music is a conduit for belonging, a vehicle for participation in the arts, and a means for understanding and exploring commonalities and differences. We envision a city of singers.

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

The potential impact of participatory music education designed as a longtime learning hub like this is tremendous. Properly assessing that impact can be challenging. In our current programs, we look at student competency in note reading and school attendance to measure success. We survey students about their attitudes toward singing and going to school. We also survey teachers, parents, school administrators and teaching artists. In the coming year, we will work with a professional evaluation consultant to design assessments for our Youth Chorus, including appropriate questions, survey structures, etc., in collaboration with community partners. The design plan for Youth Chorus centers on the voices of community members. Artists, administrators, students, teachers, parents, and families will convene at community roundtables. A collaborative design charette focused on goals, activities, and measures of success will be considered complete when everyone is satisfied with the result.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 1,500