Winners Circle Society 2023 Grantee​

The Winner's Circle Society

On Aug. 31, The Winners Circle Society of the Monmouth Park Charity Fund held a Grant Finalist Presentation and Reception at the home of Maria and Vince Tanzola in Sea Girt. The 49 members of the society heard presentations and voted for the recipient of a $21,750 grant. The three finalists included HABcore, Lunch Break and the Asbury Park Music Foundation. The APMF received the larger grant while smaller grants of $1,500 each were awarded to HABcore and Lunch Break.  Members of the WCS came together in the lovely backyard of the Tanzola home.

Music Saved My Life – Red Bank –  This grant will strengthen our agency as we expand the successful Music Saved My Life program to Red Bank and engage students in comprehensive, holistic music education. Music Saved My Life will be transformational for under-resourced students, primarily from Hispanic families, who are growing up in poverty in Red Bank.

Through Music Saved My Life, Asbury Park Music Foundation partners with Hope Academy Charter School, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and Sisters Academy of New Jersey in Asbury Park and Red Bank Charter School in Red Bank. We also partner with the Asbury Park and Red Bank Units of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. The focus of this grant request is our program expansion to Red Bank.

For the past 10 years, APMF and Lakehouse Music Academy have established a successful model for Music Saved My Life. Community partnerships are essential to this process. APMF places Lakehouse teachers in local schools, where they teach music classes during the school day, and at Boys & Girls Clubs for after-school music enrichment. APMF built a hip hop studio at the Asbury Park Boys & Girls Club and is expanding its involvement at the Red Bank Club. APMF pays for the teachers to provide music education in these schools and community locations.

Our grassroots work positions APMF to identify promising students who would benefit from advanced music instruction at Lakehouse Music Academy (with locations in Asbury Park and Red Bank). For advanced students, APMF covers the cost of year-round music lessons and group band practices at Lakehouse as well as performance fees for Big Gigs. 

APMF’s decade of success in Asbury Park led to a natural expansion to Red Bank. We have a positive track record of partnering directly with local schools and Boys & Girls Clubs, which enabled us to transition seamlessly to Red Bank. The leadership and teachers of Red Bank Charter School and the Asbury Park Boys & Girls Club have welcomed APMF to Red Bank so we can bring our comprehensive Music Saved My Life experience to their students. 

Overall, 13.4% of Red Bank residents are persons living in poverty (U.S. Census data update, 2020). However, the majority of students attending Red Bank Charter School live in low-income households (i.e., they are financially eligible for free or reduced-price school meals). 

According to the Arts Education Data Project, students without access to music education are concentrated in schools with the highest percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and schools with a student population that is majority Black, Hispanic or Native American. Through Music Saved My Life, APMF addresses this serious need by serving students of color – including Hispanic students in Red Bank and Black students in Asbury Park.

APMF transforms lives by ensuring that under-resourced students of color have access to a professional caliber of music education at no cost to their families. Especially for kids and teens who are growing up with the trauma of poverty, it can be healing to learn to play an instrument, perform in a band and take the stage. At APMF, we firmly believe that all students deserve an equal opportunity to pursue music. Ultimately, APMF measures the success of the Music Saved My Life program by the number of students we are able to serve and the individual progress that each student achieves. 

With Music Saved My Life, students aren’t getting the “charity version” of music education. Students follow a progressive music curriculum and proceed at their own pace, developing into well-rounded musicians with proper technique, knowledge of their instrument and practical performance skills. We measure student progress in accordance with this curriculum. Most importantly, APMF amplifies young voices by offering students a safe space to be themselves, bravely and unapologetically. 

The music teachers that APMF places in Red Bank Charter School and the Red Bank Boys & Girls Club are essential to this process. Our teachers see the students continuously throughout the school year and build an emotional connection that goes far beyond music. They become trusted mentors. If a student says they need help with math, or food for their family, or are being bullied online, our teachers spring into action. 

A full 100% of the students who participate in our Music Saved My Life program live in historically underserved neighborhoods. Music Saved My Life offers a strong foundation for character, courage, and pursuit of one’s dreams, despite all the obstacles our students face every day. In our program, music education is the common denominator – a process steeped in respect and galvanized by the unique cultural experiences of each student.

Music Saved My Life is an ongoing, year-round program. As described, we have expanded the program to Red Bank by partnering with the Red Bank Charter School and Red Bank Boys & Girls Club. APMF pays the entire cost of providing year-round music education at these locations. 

Our Red Bank partnerships also enable us to identify students for advanced music education that takes place at Lakehouse Music Academy. For under-resourced students, APMF covers these costs as well.