Willie L Brown Jr. Music Scholarships for Boys
For over sixty years the San Francisco Boys Chorus has opened its doors to any talented youngster – regardless of his family’s ability to pay tuition and related costs. In fact, ongoing financial aid is provided to approximately 50% of Boys Chorus members annually. Yet, the Chorus struggled to identify and retain minority singers.
In answer to this, former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. and Federal Court Judge Marilyn Patel, both long time supporters of the San Francisco BoysChorus, approached SFBC’s Artistic Director and then Board President to explore ways to diversify SFBC. The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Music Scholarship for Boys was formed, affording SFBC the privilege of actively recruiting musically gifted boys from socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Since the Fall of2005, the Program has covered tuition, summer camp, uniforms, transportation to and from rehearsals, and parent concert tickets for as many as 26 boys and their families annually.
The success of this program can be measured in numerous ways with a primary result being a significantly more diverse chorus now more closely reflecting the bay area’s demographics (see attached ethnicity statistics.)
More importantly, the chorus has benefitted from the talent and experiences the scholarship recipients bring to the SFBC, and conversely, these new choristers and their families openly testify to the life changing opportunity this unique program offers with the access it provides.
LEADERSHIP & OBJECTIVES
Led by Committee Chair and SFBC Board Member, Susan Brown – with input from SFUSD’s Superintendent and Chief of Staff – the pilot program developed partnerships between San Francisco Boys Chorus and five public schools in the city’s Bayview / Hunters Point and Western Addition neighborhoods.
The program recognizes that segments of the Bay Area’s diverse population have previously failed to self-identify to audition through traditional media. Now in the scholarship’s fifth year, SFBC fosters a multi-pronged diversity recruiting initiative, which includes
1. Targeted outreach to diverse communities translated into Spanish and Vietnamese
2. Active relationship building with key players including school principals, music teachers, community donors, and chorister parents; and
3. Print media reflecting photos of SFBC’s growing diversity enrollment.
As the Chorus has diversified, more children from diverse communities have begun to self-identify as they see boys like themselves on stage and in print media.
SFBC’s diversity initiative is based on these guiding principles:
1. Musical gifts cross all socio-economic boundaries;
2. Training is not, and has never been at the Boys Chorus, limited to families who can afford tuition;
3. One-on-one recruiting by pre-qualifying talented singers is now yielding highly qualified audition applicants; and
4. Diversifying the Chorus helps SFBC more accurately reflect the diversity of the Bay Area.
5. Actively recruiting singers by holding auditions at their schools requires a different approach to working with youngsters who self-identify through passive media.
LONG RANGE COMMITMENT
The commitment required to sustain and expand WLB Scholarship recipients continues to include tuition, uniforms, and camp/tour costs, as well as basic costs such as transportation and food.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
To play a role in the success of this Program, please contact Susan E. Brown at 415-994-8008 or e-mail here or call 415 861-7464
PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATIONS
Willie L. Brown, Jr. College Preparatory Academy
- Tareyton Russ, Principal
Dr. Charles Drew Academy
- Tamitrice Rice-Mitchell, Principal
Bret Harte School
- Vidrale Franklin, Principal
Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School
- Emily Wade Thompson, Principal
Cesar Chavez Elementary School
- Adelina Aramburo, Principal
Laurel Dell Elementary School
- Robert Marcucci, Principal
Marshall Elementary School
- Monica M. Guzman, Principal
Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School
- Nancy Sarraga, Principal
Rosa Parks Elementary School
- Dr. Raymond R. Isola, Principal
Kipp Bayview Academy
-Kerianne Ryan, Principal
The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on
Politics & Public Service
- Willie L. Brown, Jr.
- Susan Brown
African American Arts & Cultural Center
- London Breed, Executive Director
- Feysan Lodde, Owner
- Milagros (Mila) Schmidt
PROGRAM FINANCIAL INFORMATION
The San Francisco Boys Chorus program has an annual expense of approximately $4,000.00 per boy for the various musical training programs on three campuses, summer camp programs, performances, occasional domestic and foreign tours, and modest administrative costs.
In order to make our program available to every family, regardless of socio/economic background, the SFBC subsidizes every family at different levels according to need - thus no chorister family is responsible for the total expense per boy.
The Scholarship Program generates additional operating expenses not common to our general family population. These include transportation to/from rehearsals and performances, all uniform costs and food supplements. These annual expenses are approximately $50,000 per year. The Willie Brown Program has total annual expenses of approximately $120,000
The San Francisco Boys Chorus, through its normal funding sources and fund raising efforts has committed to continue underwriting approximately $50,000 of these expenses.