Music has the power to bring people together, where labels don’t matter. There’s room for all. To help keep that message alive, we need inclusivity in music. We need people advocating for underrepresented artists. We need nonprofits that help us get there. With our upcoming event All Without Words Live just around the corner, I wanted to take a second to highlight some great music nonprofits that are supporting inclusivity and deserve a boost!
Music Movement is an amazing nonprofit that provides funding for music-centric programs that
benefit youth on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) and other developmental differences such as (IDD). Music is seen as a positive form of therapy for those on the spectrum. “Music helps those with autism to develop better social skills and generate confidence in them. Music therapists have shown that music can reduce the stress and anxiety levels of autistic children and adults. It can reduce distressed behaviors as well” (Source).
This nonprofit uses its donations for music therapy grants, instrument donations, and promoting independent living. Their goal is to foster the unique skills and talents of the community they support while leaving a long-term impact on those they help and their families. One really cool thing I like is that they help provide resources for families with autistic children that are over 18 too. They also help provide their resources to children with life-threatening illnesses. Some other great things done by Music Movement include giving those they help a chance to perform live with professional artists, recording in a state-of-the-art studio in Nashville, and giving people red-carpet treatment to attend special events. It’s great to have foundations like this that help create a space for the autistic community to express themselves through the power of music.
Music Forward Foundation is focused on inclusion but also diversity, and equity according to their website. I wanted to highlight them because they are working to help break negative statistics for the youth of today. They are working to “remove barriers and increase access and opportunity for under-resourced communities, with a focus on young women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color), LGBTQIA+, and marginalized youth” (Source).
Over the 29 years since their inception, they have helped over 1 million people by providing unforgettable experiences to the youth of underserved communities. Some of those experiences include helping to cultivate the music careers of emerging artists by connecting them with industry insiders and providing opportunities they may never have gotten a chance to be a part of. One factor of their programs that I think is really cool is their internships. They provide "gigternships" which are paid internships in the music industry for college students to gain real-world experience. With so many internships being unpaid out there, it’s great that they can provide paid ones and give people in BIPOC and LGBTQ communities a chance to get their feet in the door to these career paths.
Their main goal is to help underserved youth turn their passion for music into professions, both on-stage and behind the scenes, and I think that’s amazing. They have so many awesome programs to check out. You can learn more here: https://musicforwardfoundation.org/our-work/
Next up is Magical Music for Life Foundation. They’re a really cool nonprofit because they create musical productions that deliver positive, inspirational, and educational messages to children and their families while also giving singers in their area to use their talent to change lives. They are being highlighted for their inclusion in this blog because they have a whole library of songs that are written specifically to meet the learning needs of children with autism and special needs. The songs work as social stories which promote conversation between family members while helping children communicate through the magic and joy of music. These songs not only help autistic children but also help educate anyone who listens on how to be more inclusive.
Through these productions, the foundation raises not only money but also awareness for pediatric charities across the country. Beyond local productions, the foundation’s music is performed at schools and pediatric hospitals all over the country. Their music has been performed at large-scale events such as The United Nations in support of the first World Autism Awareness Day, The White House Easter Egg Roll, Citi Field, and the Tribeca Film Family Festival. If you’re not in the area of this nonprofit, don’t fret because they have some free songs to download on their website. You can find them here: http://www.magicalmusic.org/categories.php
D’Addario Foundation’s focus is on providing music education to underserved communities. The foundation started out by helping emerging guitarists receive opportunities in the 70s. By the 90s, they expanded beyond music series and expanded support to programs in other cities. This eventually evolved into focusing on music education. “We feel that everyone should have access to learning an instrument and studying music,” says the foundation leader John D’Addario (Source).
The foundation provides funds for scholarships, after-school music programs, and instrument implementation. One of the really cool things this foundation has done that I wanted to highlight is creating The Girls in Music Initiative. Launched on International Women’s Day in 2018, the program gives girls “advanced learning opportunities, scholarships, and transformative musical experiences that foster personal & professional growth” (Source). By providing music instruction and mentoring in places those programs do not exist, they are working to make music more accessible, which is so important.
We couldn’t be talking about nonprofits focused on music and inclusion without bringing up our partner for All Without Words Live, the Boundless Arts Foundation. Their goal is to share the joy of the visual, literary, and performing arts through education, content creation, curation, promotion, distribution, and artist recognition. They are always in search of unique projects that promote inclusion and work to provide financial, technical, and other resources and facilities to support the creation and dissemination of art in all forms. Most of all, they want to showcase the talents and creations of our ever-growing community.
Some really cool projects they have been a part of include the aforementioned All Without Words Live event, which is a multimedia and multidisciplinary production that brings to life the concerto written by Justin Morell about his nonverbal autistic son. They have also provided relief to musicians during the pandemic and funded performances from underrepresented artists. Led by a team of art enthusiasts and a board of directors from diverse backgrounds, The Boundless Arts Foundation is committed to serving and empowering artists and their communities through a wide array of programming, funding, and collaboration, including educational workshops, artist awards, and recognition, fellowships, scholarships, grantmaking, and other artist support programs. While they’re younger than the other nonprofits on this list, I have a feeling that great things will be coming from this foundation.
That’s our list! Inclusion is so important, and this is just a few of many organizations working to improve, educate, and diversify music. What music nonprofit do you support? Let us know in the comments!
And if you are interested in learning more about the event we’re producing, All Without Words Live, you can get tickets and more information here: https://www.awwlive.com/
Written by Kristen Petronio