CMA Foundation Continues Long-Term Commitment to Metro Nashville Public Schools

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Country star Darius Rucker and the CMA Foundation celebrated a decade-long commitment to Metro Nashville Public Schools today, awarding a $1 million grant to support initiatives aimed at strengthening teacher talent in music classrooms across the city. The extraordinary public–private partnership received national attention today as a centerpiece of the National League of Cities annual conference being held in Nashville.

In partnership with MNPS and the Nashville Public Education Foundation, the CMA grant goes directly toward providing instruments and music education for more than 85,000 local students.

“Having access to an instrument in an environment that encourages creative expression is such a powerful thing,” said Rucker. “A defining moment in my life was when my mother gave me my first guitar – I can honestly say it completely changed my life. In that moment, a newfound passion and creativity were born where skills like writing and poetry took on a new role. So, to know that we, as artists with CMA, are helping kids get the option for that kind of discovery is really incredible.”

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 $10 million in 10 years in an unprecedented public–private partnership to strengthen and improve music education in Nashville schools.

Past funds 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 the purchase of instruments, which hadn’t been purchased in decades,” said Joe Galante, Vice 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 has expanded its support to include teacher education, which is critical in developing and maintaining strong, sustainable music programs.”

The 2015 grant will go beyond instrument support and will benefit music educators throughout Davidson County. Supported teacher initiatives include:

  1. Music Teachers at the Core, which will recognize up to 50 of Metro Nashville Public Schools’ most exceptional music teachers with a $2,000 cash award.
  2. Side-by-side coaching and expanded professional development opportunities to strengthen and support music education teachers throughout Davidson County.

Studies indicate 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 arts classes. The CMA Foundation recognizes the benefits of music education in keeping kids engaged and the importance of supporting local music educators.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who spoke at today’s announcement, lauded the partnership as an example of what cities across the country must do to have a real impact in public education.

“I am grateful for the CMA Foundation’s deep commitment to our city,” Barry said. “It is a shining example of what is possible through strong public–private partnerships, and it is showing the country the value and importance of music education. Nashville is proud to be Music City, and we are incredibly fortunate to have such a strong investment from the music industry.”

Funds for the 2015 grant were raised through CMA’s annual CMA Music Festival, held in Nashville each June. In 2016, the CMA Foundation has earmarked a record $2.6 million to in- and after-school music education programs across the country, bringing the Foundation’s total contributions to date to $13.6 million (includes the Metro grants).

The mayor, Vice Mayor David Briley, and other city and school leaders joined music industry executives and CMA Award winner Rucker in announcing the new grant. Students from the Nashville School of the Arts, Hume-Fogg Magnet High School and the W.O. Smith Music School performed as well.

“CMA’s 10-year commitment to our students and schools has transformed Nashville’s music education programs,” said Chris Henson, MNPS interim director of schools. “We are thankful for its continued support and for the role it plays in our schools and in our community. Its gift is an integral part of the Music Makes Us program’s success and ultimately the lifelong success of our students.”

“Every student in Nashville has the potential to benefit from CMA’s valuable grant, whether it be through instruments, resources or highly trained music educators,” said Shannon Hunt, NPEF president and CEO. “The Nashville Public Education Foundation is honored to be a part of this unique community partnership benefiting our city’s most valuable asset – our children.”

About the CMA Foundation
CMA created the nonprofit 501(c)(3) CMA Foundation in 2011. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, the CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere while supporting worthwhile causes important to the Country Music Association.

About MNPS and Music Makes Us
A joint effort of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Mayor Megan Barry, and music industry and community leaders, the Music Makes Us initiative aspires to be a national model for high-quality music education. With a focus on music literacy and student participation, Music Makes Us is strengthening traditional school music while adding a contemporary curriculum that embraces new technologies and reflects a diverse student population. Learn more at

About the Nashville Public Education Foundation
The Nashville Public Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to pulling together the vast intellectual, creative and financial resources of the Nashville community to create a shared vision of the city’s education system and provide the needed targeted resources to make it a reality.