Nonprofit spotlight: Rosie's House breaks down barriers to music and college education – The Arizona Republic

For 25 years, Rosie’s House in Phoenix has built a community around creating opportunities for youth through music education.
Students ages 5-18 learn about respect, discipline, teamwork and inclusiveness while receiving music lessons, mentorship, help with college preparation skills, meals and even loaned instruments.
There are classes on piano, guitar, brass and woodwind instruments. Vocal lessons and opportunities to perform are provided through the Core Choir and Mariachi Floreciente programs.
We spoke to Chief Executive Officer Becky Bell-Ballard, who said many of the students consider Rosie’s House a second home.
Many are first-generation college students who participate in Rosie’s House College Path program. Assistance with college applications, financial aid and scholarships are provided.
“As students become confident, competent and are able to discern their passions and goals in life, they are more willing and eager to become part of the greater community,” Ballard said.
In 2020, Rosie’s House, A Music Academy for Children, received a $21,700 A Community Thrives grant from the Gannett Foundation. Gannett Co., Inc., owns The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Statewide, 15 nonprofits shared more than $203,000 of Community Thrives grants last year.
What is your mission? Eliminate barriers to high-quality music education. Through music, we support youth as they develop their full creative and personal potential.
When was your organization founded? In 1996 by Rosebell and Woody Schurz.
How many individuals do you help each year?  Free music lessons are given to 500 students. In all, Rosie’s House teaches 21,000 music lessons, provides 300 instruments and presents 60 concerts to 12,000 audience members annually.
How did you spend your Community Thrives grant? To adapt our programming to serve the needs of our students during the pandemic. We taught over 95 hours of online music classes every week through virtual classrooms. Our instructors transitioned their curriculum to be engaging, relevant and appropriate for online learning. Support was given to families to bridge the gap caused by lack of access to technology and internet.
How do you gauge your success? Our program fills a significant void in afterschool programs for underserved youth. Our goal is to help bridge the education gap for youth from low-income families and develop the next generation of educated artists and productive adults.
What are your greatest needs? Funding that will help us grow and expand our program. Arts education programs were lacking prior to the pandemic. We have witnessed the demand and desire for these programs. We hosted a new student enrollment event and welcomed over 400 individuals seeking affordable music education and youth development opportunities for their children.
Can you share a personal story that represents and aligns with your organization’s mission? Former student Karen was a shy, timid, 6-year-old when she began our program. She learned multiple instruments, performed with the mariachi ensemble and choir, and had powerful opportunities that supported her development.
In addition to music training, Karen also participated in the Rosie’s House College Path program, which resulted in her being accepted to Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. She is a New American University Scholar and President Barack Obama Scholar, earning a full-ride scholarship to attend ASU.
Karen reflects on her time at Rosie’s House: “I had always had great aspirations to make a difference in the world and had the goal to be a family physician since I was very young. But I was not sure if I had the confidence and even the discipline to achieve this goal. Through music, I found a way to face my fears.
“I remember during my first concerts my knees would tremble. I never thought I would be confident enough to get up on stage. But through my lessons at Rosie’s House I had developed tenacity and confidence.”
“Rosie’s House has been a big part of making me who I am today and helped me learn the important skills that are helping me achieve my long-term goals.”
Find more information about Rosie’s House, A Music Academy for Children, online at rosieshouse.org and facebook.com/rosieshouse; Instagram @rosieshousemusic; Twitter @RosiesHouse. Phone: (602) 252-8475.
Reporter Roxanne De La Rosa covers Arizona’s nonprofit community. Reach her at [email protected]

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