March 08, 2021 I Philanthropy

Guitar Center Raises over $500K to Assist Music Programs in Need

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

The Guitar Center Music Foundation (GCMF), a non-profit organization focused on granting instruments and equipment to music education and music therapy programs, announced it 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, with all funds used to help music education programs. During these fundraising drives, Guitar Center customers were given the option of donating to the Guitar Center Music Foundation 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.

From July 5 to August 1 and September 7 to December 31, 2020, the Round Up Your Change programs were highly successful with 52% of Guitar Center customers opting to donate, with a total of 829,320 transactions at an average donation of 61 cents. With these donations, 28 music programs across the country have been 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, Tennessee; Newton County Middle School in Decatur, Mississippi; Jordan High School in Los Angeles; Norfolk Middle School in Norfolk, Nebraska; and others.

The musicians at Upperman High School saw a difficult 2020. In addition to the pandemic, the school’s community of Baxter was ravaged by tornadoes on March 3, 2020, and a number of other tragedies resulted in the loss of multiple members of the school’s tight family. The school’s Choir Director and Commercial Music Instructor Emily Phillips was especially thankful for the instrument grant which included new guitars, new keyboards for the practice rooms, and a full complement of drums and practice pads. Before students had been using buckets for the percussion.

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

Wayne Colwell, Guitar Center executive vice president of store operations, agreed that music is essential, now more than ever. “Music participation is an essential element in the fabric of our society,” he said. “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.

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