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Website The Lewis Prize for Music

The Lewis Prize for Music is excited to announce the launch of its inaugural awards process.

We invite leaders of youth music programs who meet the criteria detailed below to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) by September 16.

In January 2020, we will announce three multi-year awards of $500,000 each.

The Lewis Prize’s mission is to create fair and vibrant communities through music. Music is a potent force for inspiring positive social change. Young people who learn, perform, and create music of all genres are a source of talent and ingenuity for leading this change. Providing high-quality, diverse, music education brings the benefits of music to every person and every neighborhood.

Achieving this ambition requires the skilled creativity of community leaders working together. We are committed to empowering leaders who have big dreams, inspired strategies and the relentless persistence to ensure every young person has the opportunity to learn and make music.

We look forward to learning about you and all you are doing to make this goal a reality.

The 2020 Lewis Prize awards will be given to leaders who:

  • Pave the way for young people to learn, create, and perform music at levels of excellence, as well as develop their leadership skills

  • Are collaborative and innovative, with a proven track record that reflects knowledge of and concern for correcting unequal opportunities

  • Use their creativity and craft to lead efforts for making music education available for ALL young people.

If you are a leader in this work and have others following your lead, we want to know about it.


The Lewis Prize awards in 2020 will be given to leaders at the head of organizations which serve the least resourced youth and their communities with high quality music programs that are not school music classes (but may be in partnership with schools or in-school music), often referred to as Creative Youth Development or CYD, that:

  • Embody academic rigor and artistic excellence, culturally responsive curriculum and civic engagement

  • Train and include young people in leadership roles and responsibilities

  • Have a timely and relevant project and vision that disrupts, transforms, or creates new systems to level the playing field and ensure fair opportunities for all youth

  • Are committed to openly and broadly sharing knowledge, lessons learned, and practices with the field


Your youth music program/work explicitly addresses opportunity gaps or mitigates circumstances of marginalization for the young people you serve.

  1. At least 75% of the time youth spend at your program is devoted to learning, creating and performing music

  2. Your music program/work serves youth outside of school hours

  3. Your program/work has been in operation for at least five years

  4. You have been the leader of this organization or work for at least three years

  5. Your leadership (Board of Directors and/or senior management staff) has at least one member who resides in or represents the community that you serve

  6. Your program/work takes place in the United States and serve young people residing in the US

  7. Your organization is an independent 501(c)(3) or you have a partnership with a 501(c)(3) as a fiscal sponsor (examples: nonprofit, faith organization, university, school district, community center, foundation, etc.)?

  8. The leader of the 501(c)(3) or fiscally sponsored project must write LOI

To apply for this job please visit www.thelewisprize.org.