Not content to rest on its laurels, the 90-year-old Neighborhood Music School is subtly shifting focus — and getting some financial help in the process.
While it continues to provide musical instruction to local children, recent grants from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven have allowed the school to expand its outreach program. A $25,000 grant finalized in October will fund the school’s initiative to increase its presence in youth organizations and area schools.
Lawrence Zukof, the music school’s executive director, said that while the school does not rely on grants or corporate gifts, the grant was significant for the school.
“It’s hard to get grants this huge,” Zukof said.
William Ginsberg, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, had nothing but praise for the school’s programs.
“We think of the Neighborhood Music School as an important resource in our community,” Ginsberg said. “This is part of a strategy to support the enrichment of public education in the city of New Haven.”
Zukof said the latest grant would allow the school to take a more proactive approach to working with local schools.
“For us, it’s a refocusing,” he said.
The outreach program is made up largely of after-school music instruction. Students in schools around the city will have the opportunity to learn everything from African drumming to keyboard or string instruments.
And the Neighborhood Music School is not the only organization contributing its resources toward the program.
“Many schools are putting in [their] resources,” Zukof said.
The public schools and local organizations covered by the grant run the gamut from the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, a middle school traditionally associated with the arts, to Hill Central Elementary School.
“It’s a wide swath of students,” Zukof said.
He said two-thirds of the money would go to supporting partnership programs with local institutions, and one-third of the grant money would go toward funding the music school’s financial aid program.
The school earmarks over $110,000 in financial aid to provide local families with music lessons, Zukof said.
“Our financial aid program is pretty extensive,” he said.
He added that the partnership program was part of a larger community outreach effort. Beyond providing financial aid, the school has a feeder program to local public schools.
Ginsberg said that it was appropriate that an arts organization would get such a large grant to assist in its work.
“The self-image of New Haven, the sense of what makes the community special, is the arts,” he said. “The Neighborhood Music School is clearly one of the important ones.”