We are thrilled to announce that CYSO was recently awarded $25,000 to further our equity, diversity, and inclusion work through a Catalyst Fund grant from the League of American Orchestras (LAO), made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The one-year grant is intended to improve CYSO’s practices and organizational culture around inclusion and equity.
“There is a growing will among orchestras to make their organizations more inclusive, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s leadership, vision, and financial support is helping to drive these efforts,” said Jesse Rosen, the League of American Orchestras’ President and CEO.
“We are dedicated to offering all students and the communities we serve an equal opportunity to thrive in our programming,” said CYSO Executive Director Susan Lape said. “We look forward to being able to examine our programming and practices through an equity lens and find out where we can improve.”
She continued, “This grant shows that the LAO recognizes us as a leader in our field.” Lape will be presenting on CYSO’s current equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work at this summer’s League of American Orchestras’ National Conference.
As part of the Catalyst Grant, CYSO is welcoming consultant Dr. Derrick Gay to help lead our EDI work and provide long-lasting solutions to create more diverse and inclusive orchestras. Dr. Gay brings strong personal connections to music and Chicago—he is a graduate of Whitney Young Magnet High School and has a Bachelor of Opera Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Throughout high school, he was an active member of his high school orchestra and other Chicago music organizations.
This Catalyst Grant is the continuation of CYSO’s commitment to examining barriers that may exist for students from diverse backgrounds, especially young musicians of color, in accessing and thriving in our own programs, and in the classical and orchestral music fields themselves. Dr. Gay observed that these EDI goals are central to our mission to ‘inspire and cultivate personal excellence through music’: “Inherent in CYSO’s mission is the recognition that excellence in general, and artistic excellence specifically, are equally distributed across humanity.”