Music scholarships created for students who have been homeless, in foster care – Daily News

on Mar26
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Pursuing a career in the music industry can be tough, but when you’ve experienced homelessness or foster care it becomes doubly challenging.

The House of Blues Music Forward Foundation is looking change that.

The Los Angeles-based organization just received a $150,000 grant from the Living Legacy Foundation in Costa Mesa. The award will expand its reach and establish the first-ever college scholarship for cash-strapped students who have faced homelessness or been in foster care.

Named for music enthusiast David Eugene Ballard, the $10,000 award supports students in the fields of live-event operations, production, music engineering, music business management and a host of related fields.

Applications for the David Eugene Ballard Scholarship will be accepted through March 31 and must be submitted online at Recipients will be announced in May.

A lack of diversity

“This is focused on vulnerable youth, on gentrifying these people,” said Nurit Siegel Smith, Music Forward’s executive director. “They are walking into an industry that is challenged by a lack of gender and ethnic diversity.”

Women are especially underrepresented. Smith cited a recent USC Annenberg study showing there is just one female music producer for every 47 male producers, and that only 10.4 percent of Grammy nominees from 2013 through 2019 were female.

The report also notes that more than 80 percent of women from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds said those factors created a barrier to securing work in the industry.

Alisha Ballard, Living Legacy’s vice president and executive director, said her organization was glad to partner with Music Forward. Living Legacy is a private family foundation that supports organizations serving people who suffer from poverty, poor health, abuse, lack of education and a lack of opportunities.

“In partnership with  Music Forward, the David Eugene Ballard Scholarship will directly impact homeless and foster youth — offering them a pathway to education and a career in music,” Ballard said.

Music Forward offers three other $10,000 scholarships:

  • Live Nation US Concerts Scholarship: Open to students interested in concert promotion and venue operation, sponsorship and advertising, ticketing, e-commerce, and artist management.
  • Steven J. Finckel Service Excellence Scholarship: For students looking to improve the live music customer experience for fans, artists and employees.
  • Tiffany Green Operator Scholarship: Supports women pursuing careers in live event operations, production and music engineering fields of study.

A success story

Andrae Alexander, who will soon graduate from Cal State Northridge with a degree in music administration, was a recent recipient of the Steven J. Finckel award.

“There are a lot of costs associated with going to school and this really gave me some breathing room,” the 37-year-old Van Nuys resident said. “I’m a veteran, so my tuition was taken care of, but this really helped out with car payments and other expenses.”

Alexander plans to obtain a doctorate in business administration from the prestigious Grenoble School of Management in France and is already working with a friend to produce multi-faceted music events.

“They are curated almost like a carnival experience with things like selfie machines, barbers and makeup artists on hand while live music is going on,” he said. “These events have raised money for different nonprofits. One was to feed the homeless and another was to teach dance and singing to young kids.”

Workshop and showcases

Music Forward offers a variety of free workshops and showcases that are designed to kick-starts musical careers. The foundation’s Bringing Down the House workshop, held at the House of Blues in Anaheim, runs six consecutive Saturdays, addressing everything from open jams and social media workshops to stage presence and live production.

The foundation also offers a free All Access program where participants tour live entertainment venues and offices to learn about behind-the-scenes careers in the music industry.

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