The People’s Music School — the first and only tuition-free music school of its kind in the country — is proud to host its second annual Big Night, “You Belong Here,” on Friday, March 15 at Morgan Manufacturing in the Fulton Market district. The event will help raise critical funding for the school’s programs, which provide access to the benefits of music education to children in Chicago who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the opportunity.
“You Belong Here” will feature a cocktail reception, seated dinner, and special student and guest performances throughout the evening, including a performance by jazz saxophonist Frank Catalano, who has been heard by millions across the world in three Grammy-winning and 11 Grammy-nominated recordings with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, and John Legend.
Founded in 1976 by an immigrant from the Dominican Republic named Rita Simo, the school has grown from a small community movement in Uptown to serve more than 800 students, ages 5-18, through four different program sites across Chicago. The school has stayed true to the holistic, community-based model that Simo designed decades ago, while recently ushering in an impressive phase of growth. Connecting students from more than 55 different zip codes in Chicago, the school creates a welcoming, diverse, and supportive community where students have the opportunity to learn from new perspectives, express themselves, and explore the power of their voices. “The music school is a gateway to connect us all,” says Mia M., a student of seven years in the program. “You come in and you just belong.”
Since its founding, The People’s Music School has impacted more than 11,000 lives through tution-free music education. Through their studies with The People’s Music School, students develop essential life skills and grow through a range of high-impact partnerships and residencies the school has formed, from Yo-Yo Ma and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Chicago Public Schools, Bottom Line college prep, and Young Chicago Authors. The school’s intensive curriculum is designed to provide access to the unique benefits of a music education, enabling children to grow musically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually, regardless of economic barriers.
“Our students are performing on stages all across Chicago, from Millennium Park to Symphony Center,” says Renee Davis, director of development for The People’s Music School. “This program has been a true catalyst for inspiring each student to dream big and shine at each opportunity.” The school has witnessed results like these first-hand, sustaining a 100 percent high school graduation and college attendance rate for the seniors in their program.
Since 2015, TPMS has more than doubled the number of students served annually. The People’s Music School aims to continue this growth and take in more students off their long waiting list. As the school is 100 percent tuition-free, and supported by private donations, funds raised through “You Belong Here,” their biggest event of the year, are essential to continuing their programs. “Now is the time to get involved in the movement that The People’s Music School is building in Chicago. Our Big Night is your opportunity to join our community and help us grow,” Sarah Kammerer, director of growth and engagement, notes.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online. The event will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 15 at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N. Morgan St., Chicago), located near the 90/94 expressways, two blocks southwest of the Blue Line, and two blocks north of the Green Line. Valet parking will be available. To learn more about the event and sponsorship opportunities, please see The People’s Music School’s website and contact [email protected].