As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 18 Winter 2021
For the past ten years, Suzanne D’Addario Brouder has served as the D’Addario Foundation’s Executive Director. Brouder has helped support hundreds of music instruction programs yearly, a true champion for music education and outreach. She’s also launched the Foundation’s College Scholarship program for low-income students and revived the D’Addario Performance Series, highlighting some of the world’s best up-and-coming guitarists.
We recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ms. Brouder via email about her philanthropic efforts and how you can help support the D’Addario Foundation.
Which music charities are you currently involved with? How can you become a grantee as a non-profit?
The D’Addario Foundation supports upwards of 200 non-profit music education organizations every year. Some of our long-term grantees include Play on Philly, The People’s Music School, the Sphinx Organization, Education Through Music, Austin Classical Guitar Society, Harmony Program, Internal Creations, Midori and Friends, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts, Intonation Music, Make Music NOLA, Lead Guitar, Los Angeles Music and Art School, Corona Youth Music Project, Harmony Project Arizona, Brooklyn Steppers, and many more. 501c3 non-profit organizations interested in applying for support should go to our website at www.daddariofoundation.org. The website has a wealth of information on our mission, guidelines, process, and even examples of programs we currently support. If an organization feels their work aligns with our mission, we invite them to submit a letter of inquiry. There is no deadline for submitting a letter of inquiry, so it can be done at any time.
The pandemic has had an exponential impact on the music world. In terms of outreach, how has the D’Addario Foundation helped to support or rally the artist community together during this difficult time?
During the pandemic, the D’Addario Foundation coordinated and hosted two virtual listening sessions with artists and educators to learn more about their experiences and challenges, with a particular focus on female-identifying musicians and the BIPOC community. It was really empowering to have all of these varied voices come together in such a positive and supportive way, and it gave us many insights and takeaways. There is always something to learn, and we are committed to continually doing so.
You recently partnered with fashion house Rodarte in celebrating Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. Twenty-five percent of net proceeds from TomPetty.com are donated to the Girls in Music Initiative. How did it feel to be hand-picked by Petty’s daughters for this special collaboration?
It was an incredible honor for the D’Addario Foundation to be chosen by Tom Petty’s daughters. As they described it to us, they researched many non-profits in the music education sector. I think Adria and Anakim sincerely wish to celebrate Tom’s life and his spirit of giving, so the entire process of collaborating with them was incredibly uplifting and enjoyable. My impression is that Adria and Anakim appreciated our approach, the diversity of programming we support, and the fact that 100% of donations made to the D’Addario Foundation go directly to support the mission.
The D’Addario College Scholarship Fund is dedicated to helping music students pay for college. What are some of the prerequisites for this opportunity, and who is eligible to apply in 2022?
The concept for the scholarship fund came out of our desire to continue to nurture the development of students in our 200+ partner programs. We have two vetting elements to our scholarship program. First, an organization that has a student applying has to have been a D’Addario Foundation grantee for at least a few years. Second, the students themselves must be actively participating in their community music program, they must be in good standing, and must have applied to and been accepted to an institution of higher learning. There is certainly also a need assessment that must be met, but all of the students in our partner programs generally have a very high level of need.
The cool thing about our college scholarship program is that you don’t have to necessarily commit to studying music in college. The scholarship follows you throughout your tenure, even if you have to take a year off or other circumstances get in the way. Our college scholarship recipients become ambassadors and family to us, and we hope to do everything we can to support their educational journey.
Are you mainly focused on offering grants to music non-profits, or are there any available opportunities via the foundation for struggling artists who want to forge a career in music?
Our goal as a foundation is to use music as a vehicle for positive social change and help break down barriers to encourage a diverse and equitable generation of music-makers. Because we are a registered 501c3, we are limited to providing donations to other non-profits. However, we support hundreds of artists and professional musicians who are also teachers in our non-profit programs in many ways. In 2021, we increased our giving by 13 percent, and we generally prefer our funding restricted to supporting the teaching staff of programs.
In addition to a monetary donation, can you also donate instruments or music gear to the foundation?
Absolutely. In fact, we have a robust instrument donation arm. We host instrument drives and partner with organizations like Hungry for Music and String Wizards to rehabilitate and distribute instruments to programs and students in need. Many of our programs have waiting lists of students that cannot be accommodated because they do not have enough instruments, so donating instruments fills a critical need.
Lastly, what are some of your most memorable moments and experiences since you’ve been working with the foundation?
The most memorable moments and experiences revolve around seeing our grantee programs in action, speaking to students, and engaging with the staff of non-profits, who, in my opinion, are some of the most dedicated and generous folk I have ever known. The charities we support are not huge organizations. They operate fairly quietly and are little known, so to really see what they do in person reinforces how very special and impactful their work is. Those involved in the programs we support are not in it for the recognition; they are fully committed and believe that immersive and communal music education can truly change the trajectory of kids’ lives, particularly those coming from challenging circumstances, and they live that every day. I admire them.