Pagosa’s Charter School Receives Music Education Grant

I’m writing to let you know that a fantastic organization in Pagosa Springs, CO, has been awarded $10,000 to support music education, through one of the most competitive grants processes in the world…

So begins a press release sent out by Ellis Godard, Executive Director for the Mockingbird Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit founded and run entirely by Phish fans. (Phish, being a popular American rock band founded at the University of Vermont in 1983 and known for musical improvisation, extended jams, blending of genres, and a loyal fan base.)

The band Phish is known for presenting cross-genre improvisations.

The foundation recently announced sixteen new grants totaling $137,400 in support of music education for children. The grants come from Mockingbird’s 22nd round of competitive grant-making, and were enhanced by funds from the band’s own WaterWheel Foundation, which allowed the board to double three of the grant requests.

These sixteen grantees were selected for funding in 2018 came from among more than 640 initial applicants who requested a total of more than $4.4 million, far beyond the Foundation’s resources. Due to such high demand, Mockingbird’s two-tiered online application process remains one of the most competitive in the nation…

Pagosa Peak Open School — the Pagosa community’s first district-approved charter elementary school — opened its doors this past September.  The school plans to use the grant to create a school-wide music program, including the purchase of musical instruments and the hiring of a music teacher.

From the Mockingbird Foundation press release:

We received 1,122 inquiries… and ultimately were able to fund only 16 grants totaling $137,400. Pagosa Peak Open School was one of those select few successful applicants, and we are excited to be mailing them an announcement letter and grant agreement today.

We continue to be amazed by the vast need for music education funding, and impressed by the dedication of people who work diligently to help fill those needs. We were particularly impressed with the request submitted by Kierstan Renner (; 970-946-6362), and hope that you will find time to speak with Ms. Renner about the important work being done at Pagosa Peak Open School…

A leading grantmaker in music education for children, the Foundation has now made 364 grants, in all 50 states, totaling $1,271,640. Proceeds are generated by celebrating the music of Phish through comprehensive books, innovative recordings, special art prints, creative donation premiums, and special events for the Phish fan community. The Foundation has been operated entirely by volunteer fans of the band, without any salaries or paid staff, since its inception in 1996.



These newest grants support the following programs at schools, centers, and non-profit organizations in fifteen states, including:

· $10,000 for various expenses at Pagosa Peak Open School (Pagosa Springs, CO)

· $3,000 for instruments at Children’S Hospital Foundation (Louisville, KY)

· $5,000 for instruments at Conotton Valley Union Local Schools (Bowerston, OH)

· $10,000 for instruments at Dona Merced Elementary School (Arcadia, CA) – doubled

· $10,000 for staffing at Empire State Youth Orchestras (Schenectady, NY) – matched

· $10,000 for various expenses at Free Write Arts & Literacy (Chicago, IL) – matched

· $10,000 for instruments at Logos Academy (York, PA)

· $16,000 for instruments at Mark Twain Elementary School (CARSON CITY, NV) – doubled

· $10,000 for various expenses at Native American Apache Mission (Bylas, AZ)

· $2,592 for instruments at Parker Elementary School (Panama City, FL)

· $2,500 for equipment at Safe Alliance (Charlotte, NC) – matched

· $10,000 for staffing at Seamaac (Philadelphia, PA) – matched

· $10,000 for scholarships at She Rock She Rock (Minneapolis, MN) – matched

· $10,000 for various expenses at Via Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (Santa Clara, CA)

· $16,308 for various expenses at Young Tradition Vermont (Fairfax, VT) – doubled

To learn more about Pagosa Peak Open School, visit their website:


Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson founded the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 in hopes of making a decent living writing about local politics. The hope remains.