NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 06: (L-R) Debbie Linn Music Makes Us,Shannon Hunt CEO Nashville Public Education Foundation,Nola Jones Music Makes Us,Laurie Schell Music Makes Us,Robert Swope District 4 Council member, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Kelsea Ballerini,Jana Carlisle,Anna Shepherd board of education chair,Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO,Ron Samuels, CMA Foundation and Bill Simmons, CMA board of directors attend the CMA Foundation's Announcement of a One Million dollar donation to the Metro Nashville public schools 'Music makes us' progam at Oliver Middle School on December 6, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Country star Kelsea Ballerini and the CMA Foundation celebrated a long-standing commitment to Metro Nashville Public Schools Tuesday, awarding a $1 million grant to support initiatives aimed at strengthening music education programs and music teacher support in classrooms across the city. This donation brings CMA’s support of music teachers and education in Nashville to $11 million since 2006 making it one of the largest local, private investments in the district’s public school system.

Funds for the 2017 grant were raised through CMA’s annual CMA Music Festival, held in Nashville each June. In 2017, the CMA Foundation has earmarked a record $3.1 million to 44 in- and after-school music education programs across the country, bringing the Foundation’s total contributions to date to $17.5 million (including the Metro grant).

“I think it is so important to give kids the opportunity to learn what they are passionate about,” said Ballerini. “When I was in middle and high school I took as many chorus and theater classes as I could, and I use the tools I learned then in my career today!”

The extraordinary public/private partnership received additional awareness today as part of a Metro initiative to help non-music education and civic leaders better understand the role of music education in school improvement efforts. Groundbreaking research, funded in part by CMA, demonstrated sustained participation in music correlates directly with improved student academic performance.

“CMA’s long-standing commitment to Nashville’s public schools is a shining example of the power of private/public partnerships. Their level of commitment in terms of total dollars and tenure of support is tremendous,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “My hope is that their leadership inspires others to step forward in a similar fashion.”

“As we think about a more aggressive effort to strengthen and improve our public schools, music education is a central ingredient – not just because we are Music City, but because the research shows it can have a lasting impact on student success,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “I am so proud of what the District has already done to build one of the strongest music education programs in the country, but even more optimistic about what the future will bring with partners like CMA.”

In partnership with MNPS/Music Makes Us and the Nashville Public Education Foundation, the CMA Foundation grant goes directly toward providing instruments and teacher support impacting more than 89,000 local students. The partnership between MNPS, the CMA Foundation (CMAF), and the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF) is one of the district’s longest-standing and most significant public/private ventures. The generous support for music education and long-time commitment to the City of Nashville has been an essential ingredient to getting the music education program to the nationally-recognized prominence it has today. Part of CMA’s ongoing mission is funding teacher development in addition to support for music instruments and equipment.

Since 2006, CMA and the CMA Foundation have understood that, for Nashville to continue being Music City, Metro Schools require and deserve robust music education programs. CMA and the CMA Foundation have invested $11 million in 11 years in an unprecedented public/private partnership to strengthen and improve music education in Nashville schools.

Previous grants were used to stabilize programs by purchasing instruments and equipment, and to create a repair shop for the district. This year’s $1 million gift continues that tradition, while also providing substantial resources for educators based on feedback from our district’s music teachers.

“When this program began, it was important to fund instruments, which hadn’t been purchased in decades,” said Joe Galante, Chairman of the CMA Foundation and a member of the CMA Board of Directors. “Now that we have instruments in every Metro school, the CMA Foundation is expanding our focus to include teachers by providing recognition of their work, which is critical in developing and maintaining strong, sustainable music programs.”

The 2017 grant will go beyond instrument support and will benefit music educators throughout Davidson County. Supported teacher initiatives include:

Side by Side – customized coaching by experts for all music teachers with 32-56 hours per teacher, with select schools also receiving support for subsidized private lessons.
CMA Music Teachers of Excellence – a competitive teacher recognition program with a grant award of $5,000 for up to 20 teachers.
The District’s Prelude study, completed in 2013, indicated students who participate in music and the arts are more likely to graduate, have better attendance rates, and earn higher GPAs than those not enrolled in music programs. The CMA Foundation recognizes the benefits of music education in keeping kids engaged and the importance of supporting local music educators.

Students from the Wind Ensemble at Oliver Middle School performed during the presentation. In addition, several other city leaders were on hand to celebrate the news of this year’s grant including School Board Chair Anna Shepherd, District 4 Council member Robert Swope, and various other music industry and civic leaders.