Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) ihas announced it has surpassed its goal of $2 million for Fran's Fund, a scholarship fund established to provide life-changing opportunities in music for underserved youth throughout southeastern Wisconsin, ensuring that thousands of young musicians, regardless of financial need, can benefit from the intensive music experiences offered by MYSO. Thanks to widespread community support for this important effort, the campaign concluded at the end of 2012, and has received more than $2,096,000 in gifts and pledges.
"Fran's Fund is a true example of MYSO's commitment to expanding reach and service to our community's youth. Chaired by Margarete Harvey and Tom Ellis, and supported by one hundred percent of MYSO's Board of Directors, Fran's Fund has enabled MYSO to continue being the access point for under-served youth interested in the study of music," stated MYSO Board President, Patrick Rath.
Launched in 2008, Fran's Fund was created as a direct response to the growing scholarship needs among MYSO's students and the successful expansion of its Community Partnership Programs. MYSO's Community Partnership Programs, an array of diversity and outreach initiatives, began in 2003 and now include Progressions, an intensive string training program for City of Milwaukee third and fourth graders, Jazz Studies, a Calypso steel pan ensemble, a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and the UCC's Latino Arts Strings Program, String Orchestra Central, Prelude Orchestra, a Strings Initiative in the Waukesha School District and an extensive outreach performance program for community youth, MYSO's Neighborhood and Community Concert Series. Collectively, approximately 300 young people, many from inner city schools and diverse populations, benefit from direct music training provided by these programs each year, in addition to the 5,000+ served in outreach concert efforts.
Fran's Fund will be particularly important in enabling MYSO to provide for the growing financial needs of students continually advancing from these Community Partnership Programs into higher level MYSO ensembles. Today MYSO provides nearly $200,000 in tuition and lesson scholarships to low-income students, fulfilling a commitment made since it held its first rehearsal in 1956: that no student shall be denied participation due to financial need.
"The legacy created by the generous donors to Fran's Fund ensures MYSO's long-standing promise to support any student in its programs regardless of financial position. On behalf of the thousands of students and families who will benefit from these resources, MYSO is grateful for the community support of this important initiative," stated Linda Edelstein, MYSO's Executive Director. "The experiences MYSO students learn through these significant programs literally are instrumental in changing their lives. It is a commitment that MYSO makes to our community and one in which we are deeply honored to serve."
The fund was named for Fran Richman, former longtime Executive Director of MYSO, and was reflective of her goals: to ensure that all young people, regardless of financial circumstances, can have access to the benefits gained by high-quality intensive music study; and to bring diversity into the MYSO community.
In reflecting on the community-wide support for this important effort, Fran Richman stated, "We are so very grateful to the many generous donors who listened to our plea and understood the critical need for Fran's Fund. Their support will help secure quality music opportunities for young people for years to come. Thank you for investing in the future generation of our community."