Jazz at Lincoln Center and Mott Foundation explore ways to jazz up afterschool programs across the United States

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performs a free community concert at The Whiting Auditorium in Flint, Michigan, to highlight the effort.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Photo: Frank Stewart

Flint, Michigan — It’s not every day that one of the world’s foremost musicians calls a charitable foundation about an idea to work with afterschool programs. So when Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center managing and artistic director, reached out to Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint, White seized the opportunity.

“Music education is at the core of the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission,” said Marsalis, a renowned trumpeter whose work has been recognized with nine Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Music and a host of other accolades. “For 30 years, our programs have helped ensure children and their caregivers, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to world-class arts and cultural programming. To continue that tradition, I wanted to work with afterschool programs in New York City to help kids learn more about the history and culture of this uniquely American art form.”

“And I said, ‘That’s great, but maybe together we can do even more,’” said White. Over the past three decades, the Mott Foundation has committed nearly $250 million to increasing access to high-quality afterschool programs for kids in the Foundation’s hometown of Flint and across the country. “We support afterschool networks in all 50 states, and we’re always on the lookout for outstanding partners who can help deliver great learning opportunities to our nation’s kids.”

That first conversation led to today’s announcement that Mott has granted more than $350,000 to Jazz at Lincoln Center to launch an initiative that will help afterschool programs use music that shaped our country to teach important ideas and concepts. As part of the initiative, Marsalis and White will serve as honorary co-chairs of a national task force composed of leaders from the fields of afterschool and the arts. The task force will review best practices and develop content that the afterschool networks will share with programs nationwide.

To shine a spotlight on the effort, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis kicked off the initiative with a free community concert at The Whiting Auditorium in Flint. Local students were invited to participate in a Q&A with Marsalis and to sit in on the sound check before attending the performance.

“We want to take jazz appreciation beyond the band room by tying it to history, cultural diversity and civic engagement,” said Marsalis, a longtime advocate for music education.

“And that is music to our ears,” added White.

The task force is expected to complete its work by summer 2018. If you’re interested in receiving more information about the effort, please contact Terri Ferinde at 202-271-8651 or ferinde@collaborativecommunications.com.

About Jazz at Lincoln Center

The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education and advocacy. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and guest artists spanning genres and generations, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of performance, education and broadcast events each season in its home in New York City (Frederick P. Rose Hall, “The House of Swing”) and around the world, for people of all ages. Jazz at Lincoln Center is led by Chairman Robert J. Appel, Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, and Executive Director Greg Scholl.  www.jazz.org

About the Mott Foundation

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Education, Environment and Flint Area. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London. With year-end assets of approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, the Foundation made 405 grants totaling more than $120 million. www.mott.org