Foundation Academies Receives $180,000 Grant from Arts & Letters Foundation to Equip Every Student Grades 3-12 with String Instrument

The Foundation Collegiate Academy Youth Orchestra Performs its Winter Concert at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, at Princeton University on Thursday, December 19, 2019.

TRENTON – Foundation Academies has received a generous grant of $180,000 from the Arts & Letters Foundation to expand its signature K-12 strings orchestra program over the next three years, introducing its scholars to string instrument instruction beginning in Grade 3, as well as equipping every student in Grades 3-12 with their very own take-home instrument.

The New York City-based Arts & Letters Foundation has a history of supporting influential organizations that are dedicated to empowering individuals through music and enriching the communities around them. The grant will allow Foundation Academies’ scholars to begin to hone their musical craft a full year earlier than the current strings program, which begins string instrument instruction in Grade 4. According to statistics provided by Americans for the Arts, students who have arts in their curriculum double their odds of graduating, triple their odds of winning an award for school attendance, and quadruple their likelihood of being recognized for academic achievement. 

“The Arts & Letters grant makes it possible for every one of our kids to take their own instrument home to practice, but this means so much more than simply providing a physical resource. These instruments represent the chance for our kids to cultivate their passion, hone their abilities, and push themselves far beyond what they thought they were capable of,” said Ryan Kiple, Director of the Foundation Academy Strings Program.  “This all amounts to the fact that these instruments represent hope for our kids. As a teacher, I am eternally grateful to Arts & Letters Foundation for that.”

Designed to give students the edge and ability to compete with their more affluent peers, Foundation Academies’ strings program goes well beyond traditional band and chorus to include group instruction, private training, formal school and community performances, and acclaimed partnerships with professional musicians such as The Princeton Symphony Orchestra, and Grammy Award Winners Wyclef Jean, Raul Malo, and Angela Brown. Participation in the strings program is required for all students in fourth through tenth grade, with the option to continue through the twelfth grade. 

“I am thrilled to be the liaison between Foundation Academies and the Arts & Letters Foundation,” said Elizabeth Griffin, current Vice President of the Arts & Letters Foundation’s board. “I cannot think of a more worthy cause than the education of inner-city children and the benefit that music provides to them.”

About Foundation Academies
Foundation Academies is the largest and highest-ranking K-12 public charter school in Trenton, NJ. Founded in 2007, Foundation Academies is currently serving more than 1,000 students across two campuses. With markedly less funding than Trenton district schools ($7,317 less per pupil), Foundation Academies’ dedicated teachers and scholars are proving that all children, irrespective of race, gender, or socioeconomic background can succeed at a great public school. On state exams, all grades at Foundation Academies are outperforming not just their Trenton peers, but NJ statewide averages as well. And 100% of Foundation Collegiate Academy graduates are accepted to college. For more, visit:

Michelle Lawlor

Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.