Phoenix Conservatory of Music named as an Arizona State Charitable Tax Credit Organization, Phoenix Conservatory of Music’s College Prep Program serving the Phoenix Metropolitan Area cited as one of the best creative youth development programs in the country and wins a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, and Phoenix Conservatory of Music Wins Mayor’s Arts Award!
”I’ve been involved since I was seven or eight. Ever since then, I’ve been building my skills.” Will Kratzenberg, a sophomore in High School and PCM student says. “[I started with piano and then went to audio production.] I had no place to go for sound production or learn how to build or reconstruct sound. PCM showed me how to work inside sound production DAWs and how to mix and even create my own songs. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be all that great…all these people doing what I’m doing. If anything, that is the key to learning- learning what people are doing around you, learning from them and taking some of their knowledge into your own. I feel a sense of family here. Coming here is an escape and you can really improve your skills being here and learning with your family. [As a family] we are being able to build what we’ve been trying to build for a very long time. [As an organization], we finally made it up there, and after all these years …it’s finally paying off.”
And this is the absolute truth. This has been an incredible year for Phoenix Conservatory of Music, a Phoenix based nonprofit community school of music with a very big reach. “It often feels as if we are a very best kept secret”, says Regina Nixon, Executive Director of Phoenix Conservatory of Music, ”but we have amazing stories with all of our students and some fantastic outcomes.”
This past November, at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. this November, the nation’s top cultural agencies honored twelve Creative Youth Development programs from across the country for their work in providing excellent arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people. Three of Phoenix’s own students had the honor of traveling to our Nation’s Capital to represent Phoenix, Arizona and a top after school arts program, Phoenix Conservatory of Music’s College Prep Program. Marcus Wolf (17), Michael Rodriguez (15) and Lourde Childs (13) were the student representative and performers for The Phoenix Conservatory of Music as it was recognized with a 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The award was presented by The National Endowment for the Arts and their partners. Michael and Lourde, the only two performers for this prestigious Washington D.C. awards ceremony, performed Man In The Mirror recorded by Michael Jackson, written by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett; produced by Quincy Jones, and received a standing ovation. (Video of the performance: https://youtu.be/QXC2YNMWLVQ?t=30m35s )
The award honors the nation’s highest best programs for after school arts and humanities programs. Chosen from 350 nominations from across the country, PCM, was one of twelve organizations across the country to receive the honor, which recognizes effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people by engaging them through creative youth development programs.
“Phoenix is home to an incredible arts community, and organizations like the Phoenix Conservatory of Music are key to the city’s cultural vibrancy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “This award is testament to the great work PCM is doing to expose children in our community to the arts and music education.”
The award is the latest recognition to highlight the Conservatory’s work with students. Earlier this year, Phoenix Conservatory of Music was a recipient of the 2017 Mayor’s Arts Awards for Innovative Organization of the Year, and in 2015 received the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award for Arts Education Organization. In addition to all of the accolades, there are the direct outcomes of the program- a 95% High School Graduation Rate, 71% attend college or university, and in the last 7 years, they have earned over $1M+ in addition to scholarship offers.
“This award highlights what we already know, that Phoenix has an amazing arts and culture community that deserves a national stage, with programs that give students the skills to achieve their dreams,” said Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor, chair of the city’s Parks, Arts, Education and Equality Subcommittee. “The Phoenix Conservatory of Music provides essential support and encouragement of students’ creativity and self-expression, something most young people can’t get during the regular school day.”
What is the secret sauce that allows all of this to happen? “All three of my children take lessons here…take ensembles and have enrichment classes”, Says Michael Gleba Sr., “My children [are] just having their horizons expanded and the opportunities and options for them as they grow up are just more than they could possibly think. There are scholarships available and it makes it so much easier with the support the conservatory gives…is just something you don’t see a lot. Being here for several years, knowing all of the hard work that the staff and teachers provide, it makes me proud to see the organization be recognized because it takes so many people to make this work”.
In 2016-2017, PCM served over 1,900 students across its four programs: 1,270 students in after school or community based programs with 23 different partner sites across the valley. At our own facility inside Metrocenter Mall, we served 204 students in beginning group music learning classes, 338 students in private music lessons (where over 600 lessons were given on full scholarship) and 119 students and alumni in our College Prep Program with critical skill sets in music performance acquisition to make them competitive for college admission and scholarship and workforce development opportunities.
Because of the tireless work dedicated to making sure that there are no barriers to serving those students in need, with over 50% of its budget going towards the 62% of its population in need, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music was awarded status as an Arizona State Qualifying Tax Credit Charitable Organization. This is a fantastic benefit for both the student and the donor. The state of Arizona offers its taxpayers the opportunity to make contributions to schools and non-profit organizations that reduce the amount of tax owed to the state or increase the amount of the taxpayer’s refund, dollar-for-dollar. There is NO NET COST to the donor, and deserving individuals around the state benefit. Married Couples can give up to $800 and single filers can give up to $400. Donors just need to make sure to fill out FORM 321 when preparing your taxes to ensure the gift is credited back.
PCM is creating a rallying point for our community, to say that they care that these young people are getting the training and care that they need in a supportive and safe environment. The students are getting opportunities to enhance their education with opportunities and experiences that would otherwise not always be available to them, they have a safe place that creates opportunities for risky innovation, collaboration, and social interaction. This in turn creates a stronger, healthier community and the outcomes are fantastic.
“This is a true community school where peer learning is abounding, and everyone is welcome. We have students who are beginners learning from their teachers and their peers, and students who are quite advanced who are honing their skills and learning to pay their craft forward and give back to the community in meaningful ways.” Says Regina Nixon. “We have a sliding fee scale so that there are no barriers to participation. We have market rate tuition for people who can pay, financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students in need- so every donation we get goes to help those students. We encourage people to learn more and get involved by donating treasure or time, or enrolling a student today. Everyone can be a part of the magic.”