As part of Portland Notes’ March feature on local youth in music, we have been searching out schools and non-profit organizations that work together to support the idea that our next generation of musicians is already here, ready to rock! Jen Tengs-Howard, rock mom and current president of PROWUS, was gracious enough to answer some questions about the organization, what the group offers to the community, and how we can help become part of the solution that plagues our youth musicians – how do they get schooled, and how do they get their music out to Portland and the world? I learned of PROWUS through my involvement with the Portland School of Rock, but the group offers grants to music students for music instruction at a number of local studios and schools.
WHAT IS PROWUS?
PROWUS — Portland Rock on With Us — is a non-profit organization that provides grants for music students age 8 — 18 in the greater-Portland Metro area who are pursuing extra-curricular music education. Operated by a volunteer board who have connections to the music community, PROWUS builds their grant fund with proceeds from merchandise sales and fundraising events.
WHAT MOTIVATED THE ORGANIZATION’s START?
PROWUS started as a group of local mothers of youth musicians who saw a need for equity in music education. Music lessons and programs are expensive, and out of reach for many Portland families. Knowing and seeing the benefits of music in the lives of our children, we want to make those benefits available to all kids.
WHO BENEFITS FROM PROWUS?
PROWUS supports local families in their efforts to pursue a well-rounded education in the arts for their children. With current levels of public-school funding, often the arts are the first to suffer, and parents must look outside of school for arts education. Oftentimes, this extracurricular instruction is financially out of reach for Portland-area families. It is our goal to assist in making music education accessible to all who want it.
We offer two kinds of grants: First, we offer a regular, bi-annual grant disbursement with application deadlines on May 1st and November 1st. These grants are available to any family in need of financial assistance for music education. The second type is for situations of hardship such as a death in the family, or loss of income to help students who are currently taking music instruction who would otherwise have to put music on hold. These grants are available at any time during the year.
HOW DOES SOMEONE APPLY FOR A GRANT?
Grant applications can be found at our website at www.prowus.org. If anyone needs assistance with completing the application process, we are happy to help. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW DO THE GRANTS WORK?
Families submit a complete application prior to our deadline. Applications are evaluated by an independent panel of reviewers, outside the Portland youth music community. Results are submitted to the PROWUS Board, who votes on each application without knowledge of the personal information or identity of the applicant. Checks are then disbursed to the approved applicants in the name of their designated music program or instructor. In return for grant funding, the applicant’s family agrees to volunteer their time to give back to a PROWUS designated project or event.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT YEAR? THE NEXT 5 YEARS?
Our focus this year is on increasing our reach. We need people to know that we are here, and have funds available to assist their students. Of course, we are always looking for business and organization partnerships to aid in our fundraising efforts.
Optimally, we are looking to increase our available funds and the number of students we serve, each year. Our goal is to increase at a rate of 30-40% year over year. I believe that with the wonderful, engaged Board we currently have, our goals are attainable, and that PROWUS will be able to really make a difference in the lives of many more Portland families! We also would love to increase the numbers in our ‘volunteer army’. If anyone is interested in helping PROWUSachieve our goals, they should contact us at email@example.com.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AS AN ORG?
Seeing the accomplishments and joy experienced by our grant recipients. For many of our applicants, music is not just their hobby, it is their passion. Knowing that we have enabled them to continue on their journey is so rewarding to be a part of.
WHAT GOT YOU (PERSONALLY) INVOLVED?
When my family moved to Portland 6 years ago, my daughter wanted to continue her education in percussion, but the program she wanted to participate in was out of our reach financially at that time. We were lucky enough to have assistance, and seeing the growth in both her craft and personal life through her participation in music… I wanted to give back. I want those experiences for all kids that want it. Helping with the the work of PROWUS allows me to do just that.
For information on how YOU can help, take a peek at www.prowus.org. PROWUS, in addition to other for profit and non profit organizations such as Youth Music Project, School of Rock, Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, Ethos,and My Voice Music, are all actively involved in producing and/or promoting events that educate and support youth in local music! If you know of a local organization that supports local youth in music, please tell us, so that we can all work together! Thank you to Vortex Music Magazine for sharing their article: Music Matters: The State of Music Education, by Andrea Janda.