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Lift Music Fund

By Christine S. Escobar

The Lift Music Fund is a new microgrant program open to U.S. students aged 11 to 22 who identify as Black, Latinx, or Native American/Indigenous/First Nations. Funds of up to $250 per awardee are given to help offset the costs of studying music.

The next application deadline for the Lift Music Fund is January 15th at 11:59 PM EST. Interests students may apply here.

Since its founding in summer 2020, the Fund has been able to award a collective $2000/month to a number of young musicians, making a significant impact in the lives of young BBIPOC musicians in the U.S. during this moment of collective economic upheaval.

“The need has been really great,” says Lift Music Fund Executive Director and Founder, Emily Eng.

Eng is a conductor completing her DMA at the University of Georgia, and a nonprofit development professional. Her musical focus is conducting wind instruments. 

In 2020, with the pandemic putting a sudden hold on live performance, Eng found herself with plenty of time to reflect about her contribution to the classical music field. When the Black Lives Matter protests and movement gained massive momentum, she asked herself how she could personally contribute to make her industry more racially and financially equitable. Eng says there’s a clear correlation between the wealth and income gap in the U.S. and obtaining success in the classical music industry.

“Music is also a very expensive thing,” she says.

Together with a team of musical colleagues she researched student funding. The team discussed what would have been helpful to their own musical careers during their growing years. They also discovered that there were no existing funding programs available for the many incidental costs of music study. More often than not, families with limited income are forced to choose between groceries, utilities, and basic needs, or their student’s music education. The Lift Music Fund covers costs such as:

  • Equipment (i.e. mouthpieces, reeds, mallets, etc.)

  • Instrument repairs & maintenance

  • Lessons

  • Application fees

  • Program dues or tuition

  • Books/sheet music

  • Music software (i.e. Finale, Sibelius, Ableton, Logic Pro, etc.)

  • Recording equipment

  • Professional headshots

  • Professional clothing for concerts or auditions

  • Travel costs associated with auditions, lessons, performances, etc.

To make the case for support to potential donors, mini 30 minute Facebook concert events are live-streamed regularly. To date, the Fund has hosted 40 of these mini concerts online. The minimum goal for each event is $250, which covers the maximum award for at least one recipient that month.

“It’s all about wanting kids and young adults to reach their fullest potential,” Eng explains.

A review panel receives each Fund application. Students are permitted to provide an audio response to the application questions, if English isn’t their first language. A teacher recommendation is required from each applicant, preferably from a music teacher, to provide background on the student’s skill and musical need. Each applicant is also required to create a brief budget describing how they would use the money. Applicants may also receive partial funding if their need is less than the maximum award of $250.

LMF applications are accepted on the 15th of every month.

Currently, the Fund is sponsored but the Athens Area Arts Council. But the LMF organizing team are in the process of forming a board to eventually become an independent nonprofit organization.

This year, Eng said she hopes to develop additional sources of support for students such as mentorship opportunities, and a larger award that may be used for tuition to summer music study or college costs.

Learn more about the Lift Music Fund or donate at https://www.liftmusicfund.org