Metro Schools and Music Makes Us win $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced its second round of funding of fiscal year 2015, including a $100,000 collective impact grant award to Metro Schools’ Music Makes Us program. The award, one of only eight collective impact arts education grants awarded nationally by the NEA, will be used locally to increase community engagement in school music programs and provide professional learning opportunities for teachers. Today’s announcement by NEA includes awards of 1,023 recommended grants totaling $74.3 million to arts organizations in all 50 states and five jurisdictions. Through its grant-making to thousands of nonprofits each year, the NEA promotes opportunities for people in communities across America to experience the arts and exercise their creativity.

Collective impact is a systemic approach to achieving project success that includes cross-sector partnerships; shared goals, strategies, and measurements; an emphasis on data collection; and constant communication. The NEA recently adopted collective impact as a distinct project type available for funding at larger grant amounts.

In addition to the NEA’s application review criteria of artistic excellence and artistic merit, collective impact projects require a significant degree of commitment among diverse participants to work together. Project partners work together to reach mutual goals that benefit a community.

“The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity, and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the United States,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Funding these new projects represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”

“These projects, like the one led by Metro Nashville Public Schools, are changing the possibilities for arts education by moving from many and isolated conversations about specific programs to a shared conversation about how to fundamentally transform an entire school district or an entire community by ensuring all students have access to an arts education,” said NEA Director of Arts Education Ayanna Hudson.

With the support of Nashville’s music industry, community and mayor, Music Makes Us has expanded the number of students participating in music and the types of musical courses offered in Metro Nashville Public Schools over the past three years. Since its launch in 2012, the initiative restored band at all 33 middle schools, created new choral programs in 10 middle schools, established 45 new classes in 18 schools in mariachi, rock band, world percussion, country/bluegrass, songwriting and hip hop and launched an online hub to connect Nashville music professionals with teachers. The Country Music Association enabled the purchase of over 7,000 instruments through a multi-year investment in Metro Schools, facilitating greater participation in music classes. Music industry partners continue to lead the way with the launch of a state-of-the-art recording studio and student-run record label in a local high school.

"The idea of collective impact is at the heart of the Music Makes Us initiative,” said Laurie Schell, director of Metro School’s Music Makes Us program. “We are grateful to the NEA for propelling our efforts toward equal access to a quality music education for all Metro Nashville students. The support allows us to advance important goals focused on community engagement and quality teaching."

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring2015. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to