The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Shaping melodies. Harmonizing lives. Orchestrating Dreams.

Grant Information
Categories Arts , Education , Community
Location United States
Cycle Year 2014
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Orchestrating Dreams, Inc.
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name David Gracia
Phone (347) 739-6342
64-25A 186th Lane
Fresh Meadows
Additional Information
Used for Orchestrating Dreams develops an ecosystem of music instruction (primarily orchestral and choral) as a vehicle for personal development, social inclusion, community building and artistic excellence especially for underserved communities and for children and youth who lack this type of instruction. Since the launch of our summer camp in August 2012, when we started with 50 students and reached over 80 students in just a period of two weeks, our program has served an average of 150 of students per week through our different programs: early childhood music program, after-school string program, children's and youth orchestra and school residencies. Now in our third year, our organization has expanded the school residencies in four new schools serving a critical mass of students in all our programs (over 600 students per week), and developing a sustainable ecosystem of music instruction in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn.
Benefits Founded and directed by Sistema (Abreu) Fellow David Gracia at the New England Conservatory and inspired by the internationally-renowned El Sistema music program in Venezuela (which over the past 35 years has transformed the lives more than two million young people living in the most distressed social and economic conditions), Orchestrating Dreams fulfill its mission by creating a safe have for children and youth to develop their personal, social and artistic skills through the practice of a musical instrument and by receiving high quality music instruction. In our short history (since August 2012) we have already started to see some of the positive changes associate with El Sistema in our students including: - better academic performance, - better social and communication skills, - improvement in their self-esteem, - more commitment to rigorous study and practice, and - stronger bonding within families, among others. Our program has been quite successful in building community within our older program, the WHIN Music Project by engaging parents in music classes with their children and by offering them music workshops to learn more about the music skills their children are developing in our program so they can help them at home.
Proposal Description Orchestrating Dreams is currently serving over 600 students per week in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn through our different programs: early childhood music program (20 students), after-school string program (181 students), Saturday orchestral program (30 students) and STAR (School-Time Annual Residency) program (371 students). About 75% of our students are eligible for free lunch, 9.4% are special ed students, and 16% are English Language Learners. And 46% are Hispanics, 24% are Black, 17% are White and 13% are Asian.

Since we started our vision was to create an ecosystem of music instruction so every child in these communities could participate and enjoy the benefits of our program. Therefore we created different programs such as early childhood, after-school, youth orchestra and school-time annual residency. In just a few years we have already seen how some students in our programs benefit from this ecosystem of music instruction by being able to participate in several programs. In this ecosystem, our goal is to use orchestral and choral instruction as the backbone of our program and give all students the necessary skills to be part of our children’s and youth orchestras. And this is how we will do it:
- offering constant performing opportunities for students in the program in their communities, which will build up their confidence,
- provide fun and engaging ways to learn and perform music,
- celebrating cultural/ethnic richness by performing pieces from different cultures in the community,and
- engaging parents in the musical education of their children by having them participate in our classes and in parent workshops.

As you can see in our budget, around 70% of our income comes from service fees that students (according to a sliding scale), schools and other organizations pay for our classes. 22% of our costs go to overhead, because our priority has been to allocate more funding towards program expenses to make sure we can create a high-quality music program and we can also serve more students. This funding strategy has allowed us to serve around 150 students per week for our first two years and has given us enough financial stability to start new school-time residencies in four different public schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn to currently serve over 600 students per week.

On the other hand, we also have about $80,000 worth of in-kind use of space and pro-bono administrative work, which clearly shows the commitment of the executive director, staff and partners to do "whatever it takes" to create the best music program.

For these reasons your support would allow us to strengthen our organizational capacity and invest in more instruments for the benefit of our students. Therefore, we would allocate $15,000 towards administrative costs (the program director and the operations manager’s part time salaries) and $5,000 towards the purchase of instruments, which is a capital investment that students in our program will use for several years to come.