Germantown music-education program awaits word of possible $100K grant

The Germantown-based Commonwealth Youthchoirs organization is one of five finalists for a $100,000 grant to expand its “Find Your Instrument!” program.

The grant will be awarded by Impact100 Philadelphia, a philanthropic organization which will bestow two $100,000 grants and split the remaining $84,000 between the finalists.

Many applicants

This year, more than 120 non-profit organizations submitted letters of inquiry and 40 submitted full project proposals, said Lisa Piraino, the group’s communications chair.

Piraino said finalists were selected based on community impact and past successes. Members will vote on the awards at the group’s annual meeting next Monday.

“It’s a prestigious grant and we were just thrilled that the voting members on the committee chose us,” said Susan Ashbaker, Commonwealth Youthchoirs executive director. “I think that speaks really well to the solidity of our core programs, as well as this school project that we have. Honored is not even a strong enough word for how we feel.”

FYI! specifics

Created in 2008, the Find Your Instrument! (FYI!) program was created to provide music education to students that didn’t have it in their core curriculum.

It is currently offered to John Wister Elementary School third graders, and works with the school’s choir, which  is comprised of students in grades four through six. In addition to in-school instruction, the program also gives the participants opportunities to perform with the Keystone State Boychoir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir.

“We feel that it’s really important for all children to have access to music and with the tragic cuts right now in the school district,” said Ashbaker. “This is one way that we thought that way we could help.”

If they win…

Being awarded the full $100,000 will enable Commonwealth Youthchoirs to expand FYI! to two more after-school sites.

It will also include a partnership with the Philadelphia School District and Temple University’s music-education department.

Ashbaker called that a “win, win, win” because it will afford students more access to music education, provide Temple students with hands-on teaching experience in an urban environment and give the school district a pool of qualified music-education candidates.

Impact100 started with 100 women donating a certain amount of money,” said Ashbaker. “There was not one person doing it all. They grouped together in the best possible way to do good and music education and choral singing does the same thing.

“What one person can’t do, we can all do as a group and our impact can be profound that way, just like Impact 100’s impact can be profound when they group together like this.”

For more information about Commonwealth Youthchoir, go to

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