The Lewis Prize for Music, a new philanthropic organization focused on fostering music education and career development in young people, announced its first slate of winners on Tuesday. The $1.75 million will be awarded to the leaders of nine organizations in eight states.
The prize, which is split into three categories and includes both long-term and single-year support, was founded in 2019 by the philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis.
“My vision is to ensure opportunities to learn, perform and create music are available to all young people,” said Mr. Lewis in a statement. “Ideally, this would be happening in every school, but that isn’t the case, especially in low-income and historically marginalized communities.”
The Accelerator Award, which provides $500,000 for multiyear support, was given to Community MusicWorks, which provides classical music educational programs in Providence, R.I.; My Voice Music which brings songwriting, recording and performance mentorships to mental health treatment and detention centers in Portland, Ore; and The David’s Harp Foundation, a San Diego-based organization that works to develop job skills through music with youth in the juvenile justice system.
Brandon Steppe, the founder of the David’s Harp Foundation, said that the grant will go toward hiring a program coordinator dedicated to connecting with youth as they transition out of incarceration.
“What we’ve noticed is that when these young people come from being incarcerated back into the community, there’s a gap in our service there,” he said in a phone interview. He added that the rest of the money will go toward building “arts-based diversionary programming in the community,” in an effort to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system.
Winners of the Infusion Award, which provides $50,000 over one year, include programs aimed at inspiring Native American music educators and composers, bringing traditional Mexican music education to the children of immigrants, providing music and entrepreneurship training for young musicians of color in Detroit and building support for the next generation of New Orleans brass band musicians.
Project 440, which offers entrepreneurial training for young musicians in Philadelphia and Spy Hop Productions, which partners with schools and arts- and community-based organizations to offer music mentorships in Salt Lake City, each received $25,000 for one year through the prize’s Finalist Award.