2022 Meredith Willson Awards


The Meredith Willson Awards will provide significant, multi-year, general operating support to vibrant organizations working in Music & Learning and/or Music & Well-being, as part of The Music Man Foundation’s interest in using music to achieve systemic change. An organization must be able to identify the primary system it has sought to impact, articulate how and why music plays a key role in advancing this change, and demonstrate why it was well-positioned to take on this system change.

Eligible organizations will be based in and primarily serving one or more of 5 Southern California counties (Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura).

The Music Man Foundation anticipates awarding grants to 5-12 organizations in 2022. Grants between $100,000 – $500,000 will be paid over a two-year period to support general operating expenses. Grant amounts will take into consideration the organizational budget, scope of program plans, and the organization’s alignment with The Music Man Foundation’s mission. Grant funds must be allocated by December 31, 2024.

Any organization that meets the eligibility requirements is encouraged to submit a Leadership Letter no later than June 15, 2022.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered for funding, an organization must:

  • Be a non-profit organization with IRS-determined 501 (c)(3) status.
  • Have at least 3 years of mission-aligned programming in Music & Learning and/or Music & Well-being.
  • Have its primary service location in one of the following counties in Southern California: Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura.
  • Have had at least one paid employee for a minimum of one year.
  • Services provided by membership associations and arts service organizations are likely more aligned with the Foundation’s advocacy and research grants. Interested organizations should contact the Foundation staff to discuss eligibility.
  • For organizations that have previously received a grant from The Music Man Foundation, the organization must be in good standing with the Foundation before applying for the Award.

Guiding Questions this Grant Process Will Explore 

  • What system is the organization impacting and why is the organization well-positioned to take on this system change? Why and how does music play a key role in advancing this change? What impact has been realized to date?
  • Can the organization demonstrate intentionality around its programming, including who is served and why?
  • Who benefits directly and indirectly from this programming and in what ways?
  • How does the organization reflect a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • What does progress look like for the organization annually, and what does progress look like with a systems change lens in the next 5-10 years?

Defining Systems Change 

The Music Man Foundation interprets systems change as shifting the underlying conditions that make service delivery necessary. We understand that the world operates in systems, and that isolated grants cannot make broad-based or lasting change. Because of this, the Foundation will grant to organizations trying to change the way a system functions. We rely on the expertise of our grant partners to identify the system which the organization is trying to impact.

Leadership Letter

The Leadership Letter may come from the organization’s Executive Director, Board Chair, or Program Director depending on your organization’s leadership structure. The Leadership Letter should include the signature of its author.

In 1-2 pages:

  • Provide a brief summary of why your organization exists and how Music & Learning and/or Music & Well-being are central to the organization’s mission.
  • Discuss how long you have been in a leadership role at the organization and discuss your leadership values. Include any noteworthy organizational accomplishments that showcase your leadership capacity.
  • Address what system your organization is impacting using music and why your organization is well-positioned to take on this system change. Articulate why and how music plays a key role in advancing this change.
  • Discuss your long-term aspirations for the organization.

In conjunction with the Leadership Letter, we request every submission include a one sheet about the organization’s primary programs, as well as two board-approved organizational budgets that include revenue and expenses: one for the current fiscal year as well as one for the most recently completed fiscal year which reflects budget and actual figures.

Organizations will not have the opportunity to request a specific grant amount.


Select organizations will be invited to submit an application. The application will include the following components (please note this is not the application):

  • Executive summary that includes brief discussion of approach, milestones, and timeline.
  • Narrative portion that includes a discussion of the progress the organization aims to inspire, greater detail about programs and their participants, how the organization is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, what activities are planned for the next two years, and what resources are required to achieve the organization’s mission-aligned goals.
  • Financial section that includes a projected organizational budget for the next fiscal year, the board-approved budget for the current fiscal year, and budgets with actual financial performance for the three most-recently completed fiscal years. Also, audited financial statements and/or balance sheets for the three most recent fiscal years.
  • Leadership section that describes the staff structure and board governance.

Organizations will not have the opportunity to request a specific grant amount.

Selection Criteria 

  • Music & Learning and/or Music & Well-being is central to the organization’s mission and programming. Further, the connection between the organization’s mission and music programming is evident.
  • Demonstrated accomplishments using music to enhance learning and/or well-being within the system the organization is impacting.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the system the organization seeks to impact and insight as to why the organization is well-positioned to take on this system change.
  • Organization’s leadership values the role music plays in achieving its mission and leaders demonstrate their commitment to Music & Learning and/or Music & Well-being.
  • Organization reflects a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Demonstrated intentionality of programming, including intentionality around who benefits from the organization’s services.
  • Ability to articulate what progress looks like for the organization. Organization has capacity to track both the benefits its programs have on individuals and its progress toward organizational goals.
  • Organization does not have a structural deficit.

Priority will be given to organizations whose:

  • Programming provides increased access for more individuals.
  • Programming provides opportunity for individuals who otherwise would not or could not receive such services.
  • Programming includes both Music & Learning and Music & Well-being.


  • June 15, 2022: Leadership Letter due
  • July 14, 2022: Select organizations invited to submit full application
  • August 19, 2022: Applications due
  • July – October 2022: Site visits and/or organizational interviews conducted
  • December 7, 2022: Award grants announced<


The application cycle for 2022 is closed however future Award cycles will be announced soon. Organizations whose work aligns with the goals of the Meredith Willson Award should reach out to the Foundation about future opportunities. To be in touch, please email [email protected].

Instructions for Using the Foundation’s Grant Portal 

For details about setting up your organization’s account and for additional tips on how to successfully submit an application to the Foundation, please find instructions here.