WBAL Radio: December 9, 2009
A Million Dollars To BSO OrchKids Program
Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker will make a leadership gift of $1 million to the BSO’s music education and life-enrichment program, OrchKids.
By John Patti
December 9, 2009
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra says this gift provides essential seed capital to support 50% of the OrchKids’ incremental expenses as it expands over the next four academic years. These expenses include hiring additional instructors, purchasing supplies and instruments and adding one full-time administrative position to oversee the program as it grows to more than 300 students over the next four years.
Inspired by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop’s artistic leadership and community vision, OrchKids is a year-round after-school program that provides music education, instruments, tutoring and mentorship to youth in Baltimore City at no cost to participants or the school.
Launched in Fall 2008, the program served 30 first-grade students from Harriett Tubman Elementary School in its pilot year (2008-2009). The school's closure at the end of the school year brought the program and the majority of the students enrolled in the program to OrchKids’ new home, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, also located in West Baltimore.
In its second year, the program has grown to serve more than 150 pre-K through second grade students, both during the school day two days each week and after-school four days a week. Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have been involved in OrchKids since its early planning stages. They were among several community members who stepped forward to match Marin Alsop’s initial founding contribution of $100,000.
“The growth of the OrchKids program would not be possible without this visionary gift from Bob and Rheda,” said BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham. “It is a huge vote of confidence in the remarkable progress already shown by the young students, whom they have come to know and love. Their gift, covering approximately 50% of the cost of the program over the next four years, will hopefully inspire others to help make a real difference in these children’s lives.“
“I have, for many years, been interested in providing educational opportunities to the underserved population,” explained Robert E. Meyerhoff. “The Meyerhoff Scholar Program at UMBC provides the opportunity to study and earn advanced degrees in Math and Science. The OrchKids project is focused on this same population in the beginning of their educational life. We’re hoping to make a big difference there so that they can learn skills such as working with a team to produce something so beautiful and joyous as music. Rheda’s longstanding relationship with the BSO and her interest in education makes us the happiest of partners in the OrchKids program.”
Lockerman Bundy Principal Cynthia Cunningham said, “In the few months that OrchKids has called our school home, I have seen measurable progress in the students enrolled in the program. Children who previously struggled to complete assignments on time are now leading their classes academically. Some of the same students who were often sent to my office for behavioral issues have become a delight to their teachers. They exude a new sense of pride. OrchKids’ members are thriving.”
Copyright © 2009, WBAL Radio
Deepest Appreciation for Extraordinary Sustaining Gifts
Robert E. Meyerhoff & Rheda Becker
BSO Music Director and OrchKids Founder
Early Education Sponsor
Official Instrument Partner
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout the Maryland community.
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