The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropic organization dedicated to provided music-learning services to young people, announced this week that it will award $1.25 million to 32 creative youth development organizations across the country as part of its COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Among these recipients is 317 Main Community Center based in Yarmouth, which received a grant of $50,000 to fund its youth music education programs during the pandemic.

317 Main offers a variety of programs, tuition-free or through low cost partnership programs, for teens and children in southern and midcoast Maine. Due to the pandemic, the organization adapted its learning model to continue programming either online or in person outside through the summer. The organization has also placed limits on the number of people who can enroll in its programs, but remains committed to providing music education for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

“We knew it was especially important for young people to have creative outlets during the pandemic,” 317 Main Director of Music Education Chris Moore said in a news release. “We wanted to empower them to engage their creative voices and transform the world from a place of isolation to a place of connection.”

The other organizations receiving grants hail from California to Michigan to Alabama and beyond. Each grant ranges from $25,000 to $50,000. Many of the grant recipients are operating with budgets under $100,000 per year, and two-thirds of the organizations are led by people of color, according to the release. “Through their community-driven and youth-focused approach, they have become safe havens for the young people they serve during COVID-19,” the release stated.

317 Main will use much of its grant money to fund its Partnership Programs. Some of the organization’s projects include after-school digital music programs through the Portland Public Library and the Boys and Girls Clubs in Maine, a lullaby project for young mothers and songwriting classes with Casco Bay High School students.

“This funding will be game-changer,” said 317 Main Director of Community Partnerships and Special Programs Alicia Phelps in a release. “Having the ability to substantially or fully fund programs allows 317 Main to better address the specific needs of our partnering organizations and the students we serve, and create musical experiences that are accessible, engaging, and fun!”

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