Mockingbird Foundation Grants

Mockingbird Foundation

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Next deadline: Jan 15, 2022 11:59pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Apr 15, 2022 11:59pm PDT (Full proposal)

Grant amount: US $100 - US $10,000

Fields of work: Music Education

Applicant type: Nonprofit, Government Entity

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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Note: Full proposals are by invitation only, and will not be considered if unsolicited. Those interested in funding should complete the Initial Inquiry Form, to provide organizational details and some brief narrative elements. No inquiries submitted via any other channel, including postal mail, will be considered.

Mockingbird Foundation Grants

The Mockingbird Foundation provides funding for music education for children, through competitive grants, emergency-related grants, and tour-related grants – more than a million dollars, and counting. Competitive grants are awarded through a two-tiered grant application process that is among the most competitive: We are currently able to fund fewer than 1% of inquiries received (e.g. $40K on $1.4M in inquiries). That’s in part because the need is so widespread, and in part because we are unique in what we fund, differing from other players in this funding area in important ways:

Music itself matters – Music is powerful not only culturally and emotionally, but for skills, health, and general well-being. However, we have never funded a grantee solely on the basis of such tangential benefits (such as for music therapy), and tend to favor applicants who recognize the importance of music education for its own sake. While a laudable enterprise, music therapy is just not what we do.

Direct experience is best – Each grantee works to bring the power of music into the lives of a particular group of children. Several grantees have also utilized funds to expose students to music, also a laudable effort. But the Mockingbird board has historically been more interested in programs that engage students directly with music, rather than in funding musical performances for students who would only observe others experiencing music.

Underserved niches are great – Like Save the Music and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, we’ve given support to high school bands. But we’re especially proud of support we’ve given to economically, culturally, and musically distinct efforts. Many of our grantees serve children with special needs and/or underserved populations, and some have been internal efforts by dwindling indigenous peoples. Additionally, we are interested in supporting unconventional forms of instruction, and instruction in unconventional forms; and we are not focused on traditional performance skills, but are also interested in composition, vocalization, and musical improvisation.

Unconventional outlets are interesting – Our funding guidelines define music education for children broadly and somewhat unconventionally. For example, while we have funded many schools – rural and urban, public and private, kindergarten through university – we are especially interested in efforts outside of schools, including hospitals, shelters, foster homes, prisons, churches, camps, and community centers.

Outcomes may not be assessable – Nearly all relevant advocacy efforts have focused on putting instruments in public schools, promoting music education as a tool within broader education, and measuring outcomes in terms of assessable skills. Contrarily, the Mockingbird Foundation looks beyond public schools, and is interested in some areas for which skills may be less assessable (or even irrelevant).

Program Areas

The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. (“Mockingbird”) offers competitive grants to schools and nonprofit organizations that effect improvements in areas of importance to the Phish fan community. Our programmatic focus is music education for children, defined as follows:

Music: We recognize broad and basic needs within conventional instruction, though are particularly interested in projects that foster creative expression (whether in instrumentation, vocalization, composition, or improvisation) and encourage applications associated with diverse or unusual musical styles, genres, forms, and philosophies.

Education: Education may include the provision of instruments, texts, office materials, or equipment; the support of learning, practice, and/or performance spaces; and the provision of instructors or instruction. We appreciate the fostering of self-esteem and free expression, but have never funded music therapy separate from education nor music appreciation which does not include participation.

Children: We primarily fund programs serving children eighteen years of age or younger, but will consider projects which benefit college students, teachers, instructors, or adult students. We are particularly (though not exclusively) interested in programs which benefit disenfranchised groups, including those with low skill levels, income, or education; with disabilities or terminal illnesses; and in foster homes, shelters, hospitals, prisons, or other remote or isolated situations.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Grants are made only to nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code, or which have a sponsoring agency with this status, or which are government entities, such as a public elementary school.
    • Public schools are tax-exempt and thus eligible for funding, although school-based grantees cannot be independent of the school, must take place at the school, and must be supervised by the applicable municipality.
    • Organizations selected to submit a full proposal will be required to submit documentation of their status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt institution, a sponsored institution, or a public school.
  • Geographic focus is U.S., with an interest in geographic diversity throughout the U.S. 
  • It is expected that nonprofit organizations who apply for support are operated and organized without discrimination in hiring staff or providing services on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.


  • We are particularly interested in organizations with low overhead, innovative approaches, and/or collaborative elements to their work, but these are not restrictive.


  • We do not normally consider:
    • grants to individuals or to fund research,
    • fundraising organizations or events,
    • programs that promote or engage in religious or political doctrine.
  • We cannot fund organizations outside the U.S., but have funded programs in all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C.


This page was last reviewed June 19, 2021 and last updated June 19, 2021