The Asheville Symphony Orchestra was recently awarded a $610,000 gift from a local family (Tom and Juilie Leever) and their organization, the Leever Foundation. The gift was given for the purpose of developing a program called "MusicWorks!" at the city's Hall Fletcher Elementary, which will be designed as an after-school music-teaching program aimed at instilling life skills in students, similar to the famous "El Sistema" program in Venezuela.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that 50 kindergarten students will make up the program's initial participation, but that organizers plan to spread the program throughout the public school's education system, a system in which 79 percent of the students are reported to qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch.
“It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity that we almost dared not hope for,” said principal Gordon Grant. “We will make excellent use of it.”
The Leevers’ gift is designed to hire a full-time director as well as teaching artists and will go toward purchasing materials like musical instruments for any students in need. The program is set to begin this fall.