The Newport Festivals Foundation continues to expand its educational mission in Rhode Island and neighboring states. The Foundation, established in 2011, oversees charitable programs for the Folk and Jazz Festivals.

We spoke with Deborah Ross, Educational Director for the Foundation, who oversees the educational programming.

“I found out at the Folk Festival that a lot of people aren’t aware that we’re even doing anything, so I think that its important for people to know that although its only our 8th year as a non-profit, we’ve been very busy.

Newport Jazz Assembly Band

 The Newport Jazz Assembly band is one of several initiatives the Foundation oversees.

“We’ve been working with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Newport supporting their after school music program from the beginning,” Ross noted.

“In 2016 we started the Newport Jazz Assembly program which brings musicians into the schools. The band has performed in over 70 schools to over 13,000 kids. We get the most incredible letters from both the kids at the various schools and also the teachers, many of whom send heartwarming messages. We’ve done them mostly in Rhode Island but also some performances in Massachusetts and Connecticut. For the most part, the program is provided at no cost to the school. I’d love to be able to develop more bands so that we can do more gigs.”

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The Foundation also donates musical instruments to schools and grants two $5000 scholarships on behalf of festival sponsor Natixis Investment Managers.

“The scholarships will be given out on Sunday; we’re announcing both the Massachusetts and the Rhode Island scholarships then. We’ve also been doing some instrument donations, we’ve learned that donation drives are a lot of work. Instead, we’ve asked schools what they need and then we are just buying them the instruments. It’s a long-term investment – kids use them for a long time. It can have a tremendous impact.”

Festival Founder George Wein at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival

$20 Student Tickets

 Student tickets to the Jazz Festival are only $20 with Children (ages 3-15) only $15. Ross explains…

“With the Jazz Festival, we’ve offered reduced price student tickets for a number of years now. This was George Wein’s idea. For a 92-year-old man, he’s always thinking, always coming up with ideas. He knows we need to bring more youth to the festival. Over the years, since we became a non-profit, you can see how many more young people are coming. It makes such a tremendous difference. It influences the booking (of artists) and these are kids who will hopefully be coming for years. It brings a tremendous energy to the festival.”

WhatsUpNewp will be covering the Newport Jazz Festival all weekend – check back for stories and photos from the pit!

For more information on the Newport Festivals Foundation, click here.

Featured Photo: Back in April, students at four schools in Pawtucket, RI received instruments donated by Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s Executive Producer, Jay Sweet, presented the instruments to students from Goff, Jenks and Slater Middle Schools and Tolman High School during a special program held in the Goff auditorium on Thursday, April 5.