In 2019, the Fund approved a nine-month grant of $26,000 to the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg (FMDG) Music School, a community music school dedicated to providing adaptive music instruction and performance opportunities to NYC area residents with vision loss. Major changes at the Lighthouse Guild, the Music School’s former parent organization, necessitated the spin-off of the FMDG Music School into an independent nonprofit organization, which operated out of temporary spaces at the 92nd Street Y, VISIONS at Selis Manor, and the Kaufman Music School. The purpose of the grant was to support the School’s 2019 sustainability planning, fundraising, and associated activities to preserve the School’s existence during its transition.
The FMDG transition grant was an unqualified success. The School has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS and now operates with complete independence and impressive stability, maintaining all operations effectively and expanding its visibility and strategic efforts in the musical community and beyond. Student enrollment increased by 23%, growing from 65 students in February 2019 to 80 current students. The School has experienced increased website inquiries since creating an independent webpage, as well as more requests for consultations, transcription services, teacher training, and music education. New partnerships with higher education institutions such as Columbia University and the Manhattan School of Music complement additional partnerships with cultural institutions including the Andrew Heiskell Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Working with a consulting firm specializing in nonprofit startups, it has created a sustainable strategic and marketing plan, held successful fundraising events, launched a Giving Society, and received several new grants and growing donor contributions. The School has found a permanent home with New York’s 92nd Street Y and continues a strong partnership with VISIONS (another Lavelle Fund grantee) to hold weekly vocal rehearsals and other events.