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The Guitar Center Music Foundation raises over $500K to assist music programs in need

Students from Upperman High School in Baxter, TN, holding their new guitars, the result of a grant from the Guitar Center Music Foundation, who drew from Guitar Center’s in-store and online fundraising initiatives known as the “Round Up Your Change” program.
(Image credit: Guitar Center Music Foundation)

The Guitar Center Music Foundation has received more than $500,000 via a series of Guitar Center’s in-store and online fundraising initiatives known as the “Round Up Your Change” program. The funds will be used to help keep music education programs alive.

The GCMF is a non-profit organization focused on granting instruments and equipment to music education and music therapy programs. During these fundraising drives, Guitar Center customers were given the option of donating to the GCMF by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar, giving customers an easy way to support music education during the challenging times of the current pandemic crisis.

The GCMF reports that with these donations, 28 music programs across the country were able to receive grants so far, with more planned for 2021. Among the music programs that benefited from the “Round Up” donations include Upperman High School in Baxter, TN; Newton County Middle School in Decatur, MS; Jordan High School in Los Angeles, CA; Norfolk Middle School in Norfolk, NE; and others.

Students from Upperman High School in Baxter, TN, shown playing a new DW drum kit and a practice pad, which were part of a recent grant from the Guitar Center Music Foundation.

(Image credit: Guitar Center Music Foundation)

Emily Phillips, Upperman High School’s Choir Director and Commercial Music instructor, commented on the instrument grant, which included new guitars, new keyboards for the practice rooms and a full complement of drums and practice pads.

“This past year has been devastating, with natural disasters, the pandemic, and personal tragedy framing these months with heaviness and grief,” Phillips said. “But we know music is a healer, so there was no choice, but to keep at it.

“You can tell from the students’ demeanors how stressful this year has been, with funerals in our community being a regular occurrence and quarantines due to pandemic exposure making any sort of routine a non-reality. But then the truck from the Guitar Center Music Foundation showed up literally a week before the one-year anniversary of the major tornado, and it provided not only instruments and excitement, but also just the perfect distraction at the right moment for us. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude to all who contributed.”

Added David Helfant, Chairman of the Board of the Guitar Center Music Foundation, “I am delighted that the ‘Round Up’ program has been so well received by the customers of Guitar Center. Despite the financial and personal challenges in this country due to the pandemic, people are still reaching into their pockets to help support music education and music therapy. It is a real testament to the kindness and compassionate of the public for music, music education and our foundation.”

Said Wayne Colwell, Guitar Center EVP, Store Operations, “Music participation is an essential element in the fabric of our society. At Guitar Center, we learned that more than ever this past year.

“In support of music programs around the country, we worked with the Guitar Center Music Foundation to develop the ‘Round Up Your Change’ program in our retail stores and online as a means to deliver the emotional healing experience one receives through that gift.

“A simple concept of ‘rounding up’ to the nearest dollar when checking out is helping to keep music education alive and available in our nation’s underprivileged schools and communities. We are grateful to the over 800,000 customers who helped us raise more than $500k in 2020. Guitar Center is dedicated to ensuring that music is an integral part of as many lives as possible.”

The next Guitar Center “Round Up Your Change” initiative began on February 28 and will run through March 27 in-store and online via Guitar Center’s e-commerce channels.

Music programs in need that would like to be considered for a grant from the Guitar Center Music Foundation can visit guitarcenterfoundation.org.