Newport Festivals Foundation (NFF), which produces the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, announced today their commitment to support the music programs at all three public schools in the Newport School District.

NFF will provide financial support to each school with the hope of ensuring every student in the district has access to quality music education. 

“Our mission as a nonprofit is to expand the impact of our festivals through music education and that begins in our hometown of Newport,” said Jay Sweet, Executive Producer of NFF in a press release today. “This is not just a one off — this is a long-term commitment to the town. As long as our festivals call Newport home, we’ll do what we can to ensure every public school student has access to outstanding music education.” 

NFF has been working directly with the music teachers from Pell Elementary, Thompson Middle, and Rogers High School to identify their needs and establish how the funds will be used. At Pell, funds will be used to purchase a music software program designed to introduce elementary school kids to the basic principles of rhythm and melody. At Thompson, youth size KORG keyboards were purchased to help students learn piano. At Rogers, funds will be used to repair instruments.   

In the press release, Diane Sheehan, Supervisor of the Arts at Newport Public Schools, expressed , “On behalf of the Music Department at Pell Elementary, Thompson Middle School and Rogers High School, we are extremely thankful for the exciting opportunity to obtain music software programs, electronic keyboards, and instrument repair for our music classes this coming school year. This type of community outreach and student engagement creates the spark that every child needs to connect and appreciate music throughout their lifetime. Newport Festivals Foundation is instilling an atmosphere of love of music and ‘hands-on’ musical synergy with their philanthropic generosity to Newport Public Schools. The Foundation will never know ALL the musical triumphs etched in every child attending our public school system and we can’t thank them enough for their substantial support.”

This initiative was made possible thanks to a contribution to NFF by Dennis and Beverlee Taber in honor of her grandfather, Ray G. Groff Sr., former Band Instructor at Rogers High School. Keyboards for Thompson Middle School were provided at a nonprofit rate by KORG Education. A portion of the funds raised from this year’s Newport Folk Presents aftershows will be dedicated to supporting the program in the future. 

Newport Festivals Foundation fosters the legacy and expands the impact of its Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in Jazz and Folk music. The Foundation’s goal is to offer opportunity, inspire through exposure and facilitate the collection of resources needed for musicians to celebrate and innovate. The focus on creating unique experiences to spark engagement is accomplished through a variety of initiatives, including instrument donations and performances at schools throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  

On top of all the local work that Newport Festivals Foundation is doing in Rhode Island, Newport Festivals Foundation is making a commitment to partner with Newport Folk Festival artists and is donating to a music education cause of their choosing. Dozens of organizations in every corner of the United States have been recipients of donations in 2019.

In one example, Newport Festivals Foundation made a donation this year on behalf of Portugal. the Man (who will appear at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival) to support Dancing with the Spirit – connecting youth and elders through school music programs in Alaska. Funds will be used to bring two Dancing with the Spirit staff, two Portugal. The Man band members and a small plane load of guitars, fiddles, and ukuleles to Tyonek, Alaska for a week to teach music and dancing in the school.  Tyonek is a small Native community across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, which can only be reached by plane or boat.

See what organization each artists appearing at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival has chosen to support here.

For more information on Newport Festivals Foundation education initiatives, visit

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp, LLC. Belmore has led What's Up Newp since December 2012. Belmore also serves as the Sr. Editor - North America for Mountain News - publisher of OnTheSnow. In his spare time, Belmore serves as the Vice President for the Board of Directors at Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors at Lucy's Hearth. Belmore is also a member and supporter of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to