Yahoo Employee Foundation contributes $40,000 to help grow after school music program

The Santa Cruz Education Foundation recently received a Partnership Grant from the Yahoo Employee Foundation to support El Sistema Santa Cruz, its after school orchestral program currently hosted at Gault Elementary School. The grant will be used to support on-going music instruction and to explore ways to expand the program beyond its current one-school pilot status.

El Sistema Santa Cruz joins a growing international movement, locally operating as a pilot, serving Santa Cruz City Schools elementary students in a free, four-day per week after school program hosted at Gault Elementary School. ESSC is modeled after El Sistema, the legendary Venezuelan orchestral training program, and inspired by OrchKids, a Baltimore initiative led by Musical Director Marin Alsop (conductor of the local Cabrillo Music Festival). El Sistema transforms the lives of children through music. As they become part of an orchestra, previously under-served children are empowered through music instruction that also teaches the importance of collaboration, promotes self-assurance and builds academic skills.

ESSC couples high expectations with nurturing instruction. Students develop their musical potential as the program builds a community of parents, artists and appreciative audiences around them. Early exposure to music yields benefits in brain and behavior development. By nurturing focus, memory capacity, English language acquisition, mathematical and collaboration skills, participating in El Sistema boosts students’ academic achievement and, through the common language of music, promotes healthy social relationships.

This pilot program was launched with seed funding from the Yahoo Employee Foundation in 2011 and has just completed its first full year. This Fall, in addition to new Kindergartners and returning 1st & 2nd graders, ESSC will undertake planning to explore how to expand El Sistema to reach all elementary students in the Santa Cruz City Schools district.

Nick Morris, a recent Santa Cruz City Schools graduate produced a video that illustrates the benefits of the program. Learn more here.