CMA Foundation and Charles Kelley Announce Research Funding for Give a Note Foundation



October 28, 2015

CMA Foundation Expands Grant Focus from Purchasing Instruments to Supporting Music Education Initiatives for Deserving Children Nationwide 

Charles Kelley Announces CMA Foundation Charitable Giving in 2016
to Exceed $2.6 Million


NASHVILLE – A trumpet on a school shelf sits silent without a teacher showing a student how to play.

Early in the creation of the CMA Foundation the focus was on purchasing instruments, primarily in Metro Nashville Public Schools, which hadn’t received new instruments in decades. Five years and thousands of instruments later, the CMA Foundation Board has made the strategic shift to focusing not only on providing instruments, but expanding efforts to support sustainable, quality music education through partnerships with in-school and after-school programs nationwide.


Lady Antebellum

Charles Kelley announces CMA Foundation grant for music education research. Photo: Dusty Draper | CMA.


Tuesday night at the annual conference of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), which represents 60,000 music teachers across the country, the CMA Foundation and Country star Charles Kelley, of Lady Antebellum, announced a $150,000 grant from the CMA Foundation to the Give a Note Foundation, which was created by NAfME in 2011 to nurture, grow, and strengthen music education opportunities through grants, scholarships, and research. The research grant will bring the CMA’s music education funding in 2016 to a record $2.6 million.

“We couldn’t think of a better platform to talk about the importance of supporting sustainable music education programs than sharing this expanded strategy with the teachers who are on the front line of this important issue every day,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer.


CMA Foundation

Charles Kelley, Ron Samuels (Chairman of the CMA Foundation Board of Directors), Sarah Trahern (CMA Chief Executive Officer). Photo: Dusty Draper | CMA


The grant will fund a national study on access to music education that can be analyzed and made available to organizations who wish to make informed decisions for philanthropic gifts in music education – where the need exists, and where the infrastructure exists to make gifts sustainable and impactful.

“It has become clear as we review hundreds of grant applications each year that being able to identify those regions and cities with the greatest need would be very beneficial – not just to the CMA Foundation, but to many other grant-making organizations,” said Ron Samuels, Chairman of the CMA Foundation Board of Directors. “The need for music education programs is clear. Determining where the need is the greatest will help us better focus our resources.”


music student

Elijah Micheaux, member of the All-National Honor Ensemble Jazz Band, with Charles Kelley at the closing concert of NAfME’s 2015 National In-Service Conference. Photo: Dusty Draper | CMA


The research grant was made on behalf of CMA’s artist community.

“The CMA continuing their mission to support music education is something all of us artists are proud to be part of,” said Kelley. “But, what really takes it to the next level for me is that they continue to reevaluate where the money is going so that the resources can be used where they are most valuable. I think that evolution of giving makes an even bigger impact on these kids.”

Kelley recently released his first solo single, “The Driver,” as the trio wraps their successful “Wheels Up” tour. “The Driver,” which features Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay, is the lead song ahead of an EP set for release in early 2016.

The research will be a statistically valid national survey of school districts. The initial survey research will take place over several months. In addition to the national sample, the Give a Note Foundation will select six communities to conduct additional studies to better understand best practices in music education in underserved areas.


music grant

Left to right: NAfME President Glenn E. Nierman; Elijah Micheaux; CMA CEO Sarah Trahern; Charles Kelley; CMA Foundation Chairman of the Board Ron Samuels; Give a Note President and Board Chair Beth Slusher. Photo: Dusty Draper | CMA


“On behalf of the Give a Note Foundation board and staff, we are deeply grateful to the CMA Foundation for their support and partnership in our work to equip all students to be successful by strengthening music programs across the U.S.,” added Give a Note Foundation President and Board Chair Beth Slusher. “This grant will make a big difference in how we reach students, teachers, and communities with the help they need for their music programs to thrive.”

With the research funding, Kelley announced that the CMA Foundation’s charitable giving in 2016 is poised to exceed $2.6 million – bringing the organization’s total contributions to $13.6 million. The CMA Foundation will announce 2016 grant recipients in the coming months.

CMA created the nonprofit (501C3) CMA Foundation in 2011 as the charitable giving arm of CMA. Funds for the Foundation are provided by CMA on behalf of the hundreds of artists who perform and make appearances during CMA Music Festival for free.

“Our artist community is embracing this program like never before,” said Trahern. “Their participation in the Festival makes these donations possible, but they are also stepping up to be ambassadors for music education across the country by visiting programs, including student musicians in their performances, and creating a national dialogue about the importance of music education in media interviews and TV appearances.”

Studies show students who participate in the arts are more likely to graduate, have better attendance rates, and higher GPAs than students not enrolled in arts classes. The CMA Foundation recognizes the importance of music education in keeping kids engaged and in school as well as providing access to higher education through scholarships.

Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, the CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere while supporting worthwhile causes important to the Country Music Association.


Since 2011, Give a Note Foundation has conducted national awareness campaigns and raised funds to support and strengthen music education programs across the U.S. The programs have reached millions of parents and students and provided more than $1 million in direct grants to schools. Learn more about Give a Note Foundation at Help give the gift of music! Text “MusicEd GAN” to 20222 to donate $10! Message & Data Rates May Apply. Details: You can follow Give a Note on Twitter, and on Facebook at


Keep up to date with the latest CMA news by following us on Twitter at and request to join the CMA Press Facebook group at


Press Contacts:         

Wendy Pearl            (CMA)     (615) 244-2840

Courtney Beebe      (CMA)     (615) 244-2840                                

Lindsay Sheldon      (Give a Note)  (703) 860-4000 x230  

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