9 Best Charities That Advance Music Education (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Advance Music Education (Complete 2024 List)

By
Diana Stancu

Read Time:21 Minutes

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Music education is a crucial part of children’s development, enhancing their creative and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, music lessons increase students’ academic results while lowering the usage of illicit substances. Unfortunately, music programs are regularly cut from school budgets because they are not usually a priority for principals and parents. As a result, charities are fighting to implement critical music courses while advocating for their benefit in a child’s life. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that advance music education?

The best charities that advance music education are Save The Music Foundation and Music Will. Other charities, like Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and Education Through Music work to increase access to music literacy for underserved youth.

Whether you want to support underserved schools to access music education, help music teachers develop their knowledge, or connect children in need to musical instruments, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that advance music education are all about, how they work, and what would be your best way to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Advance Music Education Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their achievements, overall impact, and transparency ratings.

They mainly operate in North America and the UK, helping youth to develop their musical skills and careers.

Most of the charities below implement music programs in school districts, to enrich students’ knowledge of music theory and offer practical instrument lessons. Furthermore, they help music educators to deepen their teaching skills and learn how to repair and maintain musical instruments for pupils.

In addition, some charities organize music festivals, competitions, and camps to advance music literacy in fun, interactive environments.

Yet, through different means, all of these charities share the same goal of keeping the passion and interest for music alive, regardless of socioeconomic status.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Advance Music Education in 2023

Below are our favorite charities that advance music education (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

Save The Music Foundation: Delivering Equitable Access to Music Education

Logo for Save The Music Foundation
SAVE THE MUSIC - 25th Anniversary

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Save The Music Foundation has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We help students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music.”

Save The Music Foundation

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What they do:

The Save The Music Foundation partners with public schools to donate new musical instruments, technology, and resources for music teachers and school leaders. For this, they offer three types of grants, teaching the basics of music making and developing music skills, from playing instruments to editing music pieces. Furthermore, they support music teachers with career opportunities and long-term support. In addition, they advocate for public-school music education as a part of every young student’s curriculum.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Save The Music Foundation has become one of America’s leading charities for music education, helping millions of children to develop music skills through thousands of music programs. Moreover, they have collaborated with over 2,000 schools in 287 districts nationwide to include music education as part of their curriculum. For example, between 2019 and 2021, they started 200 new programs to support students and educators. Furthermore, in 2021, they delivered grants to 97 schools and nearly 60,000 students

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Save The Music Foundation on their website.

2

Music Will: Bringing Music Education to Kids Across the Country

Logo for Music Will
About Music Will

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Their transparency & ratings:

Music Will has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We believe that music education is a right, not a privilege, and it should reflect the cultures of the students it serves.

Music Will

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What they do:

Music Will connects students nationwide with their innate music and rhythm skills. They do this by offering professional development for teachers in the Music Will approach, along with ongoing support and grants of musical instruments. In this way, K-12 educators either introduce new music programs at their schools or expand their existing music programs. The charity’s signature model called “modern band” teaches students to play, perform, and compose using popular genres that the students select themselves. By doing this, they help pupils to reflect their cultural values in the curriculum and enrich their school musical experience. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Music Will has served 1,2 million students from 6,000 schools and nearly 1,000 school districts across the US. Furthermore, they have donated over 100,000 musical instruments and started teaching their signature approach to music education in 70 colleges and universities. For example, in 2020, they supported almost 90,000 new students through 380 programs across 29 states. In the same year, they trained 1,000 music teachers nationwide and donated over 5,500 musical instruments

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Music Will via their website. You can also contribute by applying for a job or internship

3

Newport Festivals Foundation: Supporting Musicians, Students, and Educators

Logo for Newport Festivals Foundation
Lagunitas | Newport Festivals Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Newport Festivals Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“We believe every student deserves access to high-quality music education. Our mission is to support access to music literacy programs year-round, across the country.”

Newport Festivals Foundation

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What they do:

The Newport Festivals Foundation empowers students to reach their artistic potential while preserving the legacy of jazz and folk music. They do this by organizing jazz camps and after-school programs where professional musicians teach students about songwriting and audio engineering, while explaining jazz history and music careers. Furthermore, the charity donates new and gently used musical instruments to underserved youth nationwide. They also provide educational grants by collaborating with established artists to reach poor, afflicted communities across the US. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Newport Festivals Foundation has served over 70,000 students across the US through music lessons and made nearly 1,800 donations of musical instruments. For example, in 2022, they trained 85 students in their afterschool programs and offered 53 music education grants, including a music program for girls and one for incarcerated youth. In the same year, their online educational videos reached over 175,000 pupils nationwide. Also, they distributed 104 instruments and gathered almost 2,800 students in their Newport Jazz Assembly Band.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Newport Festivals Foundation on their website. You can also support them by donating a musical instrument or attending an internship program.

4

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation: Keeping Music Alive In Our Schools

Logo for Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation
MHOF in Action

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

We believe that music’s role in a child’s education is key in engaging them, sparking their creativity and unique voice, and improving their overall enjoyment and success in school.

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation audits each partner school to understand the barriers they face in offering students critical music education. Furthermore, the charity helps school districts to manage and collect musical instruments for the students. They also lead instrument repair workshops for music teachers to extend instruments’ lifespans for future pupils. In addition, they support schools to plan and implement music education programs. Moreover, they grant musical instruments to low-income communities and schools impacted by natural disasters

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation has donated over 28,000 instruments to 1,500 school music programs, serving more than 2 million students over the life of the instruments. For example, they have distributed over $3,3 million worth of instruments to restore music programs in over 100 schools affected by natural disasters and crises. Furthermore, between 2018 and 2021, they served 280 disadvantaged schools by refurbishing nearly 12,000 musical instruments worth more than $5,7 million

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation on their website. You can also contribute by volunteering or following their social media accounts, on Instagram and Twitter

5

National Association for Music Education: Leading the Fight for Music Literacy

Logo for National Association for Music Education
Wynton Marsalis on Music Education: The NAfME Interview

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Their transparency & ratings:

The National Association for Music Education has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator

“We believe that music is unique to the human experience and is essential to our humanity, and so we want to share this beauty with the world.”

National Association for Music Education

⚒️

What they do:

The National Association for Music Education works to support America’s music students and teachers. They do this by creating performance opportunities for students through competitions and mentorship programs. Furthermore, they oversee music societies for children and give scholarships to underserved youth. In addition, they provide career opportunities for music educators, through learning communities and teaching publications. Furthermore, they advocate the importance of music education programs to ensure their access and presence nationwide. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the National Association for Music Education has expanded to represent more than 53,000 members teaching millions of students and promoting lifelong experiences in music. For example, in 2021, their Music Society for Children was active in 1,900 schools and had nearly 75,000 music learners. In the same year, they helped over 12,000 music teachers to access online resources for professional development, which gathered 430,000 downloads in total. In addition, they supported 1,000 students to enter composition contests and join music bands. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Association for Music Education on their website. You can also support them by joining their advocacy events or participating in Music In Our Schools Month.

6

Education Through Music: Music is for Everyone

Logo for Education Through Music
Education Through Music: Music is for Everyone

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Their transparency & ratings:

Education Through Music has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We utilize music education as a catalyst to improve academic achievement, motivation for school and self-confidence.”

Education Through Music

⚒️

What they do:

Education Through Music delivers music literacy to at-risk communities and children. For this, they recruit and provide ongoing training to music teachers, while building new music classrooms in schools that cannot afford them. Furthermore, they organize music education curriculums as a core subject for every student. They also develop band and orchestra ensembles to promote teamwork and social development. In addition, they run online music lessons to help deepen rhythm skills at home. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Education Through Music has delivered music lessons to more than 20,000 students across 63 schools and high schools. For example, in 2020, they invested over $5,4 million in all their educational programs for students and music teachers. In the same year, they awarded $125,000 in financial grants and scholarships to 26 schools to support underfunded music programs and teacher training. They also launched an educational TV show with music lessons that reached 2 million families

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Education Through Music on their website. You can also contribute by joining them as a music teacher or subscribing to their newsletter

7

Guitars not Guns: One Child, One Guitar, One Miracle

Logo for Guitars not Guns
Guitars Not Guns empowers children through musical exploration

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Their transparency & ratings:

Guitars not Guns has a 65% score for Finance and Accountability from Charity Navigator and holds the Bronze Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Music has the power to heal. We instill a love and appreciation for music that children can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Guitars not Guns

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What they do:

Guitars not Guns connects with child victims of abuse or neglect, and teaches guitar lessons in a classroom setting with qualified teachers, as an alternative to violence. Their classes consist of 10 students and 3 instructors, being usually 8 weeks long. In addition to teaching guitar, they help children to build self-esteem and learn perseverance and discipline. In this way, the charity uses music to help teens use their creativity to foster personal development and help divert them from the destructive influences of drugs, alcohol, and gang-related violence. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Guitars not Guns has inspired more than 5,000 children nationwide to express their emotions in a positive and constructive way. Furthermore, in 2022, they expanded their reach to 20 schools across 12 states. Moreover, they have gifted a personal guitar to all the students they’ve served, so that they could use it to deepen the skills they learned in the courses. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Guitars not Guns on their website. You can also support them by volunteering or participating in their music events

8

Fender Play Foundation: Equip, Educate, and Inspire the Next Generation of Players

Logo for Fender Play Foundation
Fender Play Foundation offers students free music education and instruments

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, the Fender Play Foundation spent 95.1% on their program services and 4.9% on all other management fees. 

“Music has the power to change lives. We envision a future in which every young person has access to high-quality music education and teachers are supported in providing opportunities for their communities.”

Fender Play Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Fender Play Foundation works to equip, educate, and inspire the next generation of music players. For this, they ensure that students and teachers nationwide have the necessary instruments, technical gear, and education resources to implement music literacy lessons. Moreover, they provide teachers with the tools and support needed to deliver high-quality music education. Furthermore, they organize artistic workshops, engaging established artists to inspire underserved communities to keep playing and follow their musical dreams. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Fender Play Foundation has continued to connect underserved youth with musical opportunities. For example, in 2020, they launched a virtual music program that helped 2,000 middle school students to learn to play bass, guitar, and ukulele. In addition, in 2021, they started an in-school ukulele program in 10 elementary schools across Los Angeles, engaging 2,500 students between 2021 and 2023. Furthermore, in 2022, they provided musical instruments and music lessons to 7,000 students across Los Angeles and advocated for music education funding in all California public schools

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Fender Play Foundation on their website. You can also contribute by becoming a Teacher Ambassador or subscribing to their newsletter.

9

Music for Youth: Young Lives Transformed Through Music

Logo for Music for Youth
Youthsayers - Interview

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, Music for Youth spent 97.2% on their program services and 2.8% on fundraising events.

We want to ensure that every young person in the UK can achieve their musical potential by performing the music they love. We believe that music, and the chance to participate in high-quality musical activities, should be open to every young person.

Music for Youth

⚒️

What they do:

Music for Youth engages young musicians in festivals and concerts to help them showcase their skills and gain fan audiences. The charity also advocates for new music makers, to highlight the importance of continuous music education. Furthermore, their music mentors share expert advice, support, and feedback with musicians to motivate them in their passion or career. Moreover, they support music literacy by giving musicians working opportunities with industry professionals across the UK. They also offer scholarships to help musicians assemble performances on London’s most famous music stages. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Music for Youth has continued to support music makers looking to advance their music literacy skills. For example, in 2022, they helped 10,000 young musicians from over 60 locations across the UK to perform 30 musical genres in the charity’s festivals. In the same year, they supported 367 music groups and 45 non-performance assistants to improve their artistic skills. Furthermore, they organized 75 mentoring sessions by established artists. By the end of the same year, 100% of participants improved their confidence and communication skills after participating in the charity’s activities.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Music for Youth on their website. You can also support them by listening to their podcast or following them on Instagram and TikTok

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that advance music education. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. Charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to advancing music education – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Diana

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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