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League of American Orchestras Launches EDI Catalyst Fund

In January, the League of American Orchestras launched a three-year pilot program of annual grants to adult and youth orchestras that aim to advance their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and to foster effective EDI practices. Supported by a three-year $2.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Catalyst Fund will address the fact that enduring change requires orchestras to confront their beliefs, behaviors, and practices—their cultures.

“Our experience and research confirm that programmatic diversity efforts fall short when not supported by rigorous examination of values and practices and an alignment among stakeholders,” says League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen.

“Despite the artistic excellence and evolution of America’s orchestras, the intractable problem of there being 4% representation of black and Latinx musicians has remained unchanged for some time,” says Mellon Foundation Program Officer Susan Feder. “We are proud to support the launch of the League of American Orchestras’ Catalyst Fund, which acknowledges that the lack of diverse representation is not due to a lack of talent—it’s due to an issue of access.”

League member orchestras that meet eligibility requirements have until February 22 to apply. Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts and grant awards will be announced by May 17, 2019. For more details and application information visit The League website: americanorchestras.org.

Selected orchestras will be required to use the $10,000 to $25,000 grants to support the retention of a skilled EDI practitioner to advance EDI learning objectives. Grantees will be linked into a learning community that serves as a platform to share their findings, including a dedicated online forum, as well as remote and in-person discussions.