Atlanta Music Project student bassist Alivia Carter performs at the Atlanta Music Project Center for Performance and Education, accompanied by pianist Jack Wagner. [credit: AMP]

Atlanta Music Project named a finalist for $500,000 national music education prize

Mark Gresham | 4 DEC 2020

This week, the intrepid Atlanta Music Project has been named one of eight finalists vying for one of three national 2021 Accelerator Awards from The Lewis Prize for Music, founded in 2018 by Progressive Insurance heir and philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis with a mission to partner with leaders who create positive systemic social change by investing in young people through music. Three $500,000 multi-year grants will be awarded in all in this, with the winners to be announced on January 12, 2021. It’s only the second time the Accelerator Awards have been granted.

  • TAO Spring 21

Last year’s 2020 Accelerator Awards were given to Community MusicWorks (Providence, RI), My Voice Music (Portland, OR) and The David’s Harp Foundation (San Diego, CA).

The eight finalist organizations for the 2021 Accelerator Awards are:

  • Academy of Music Production Education and Development (AMPED) – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Atlanta Music Project – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Beyond the Bars – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Hyde Square Task Force – Boston, Massachusetts
  • Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit – Detroit, Michigan
  • We Are Culture Creators – Detroit, Michigan
  • Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective – St. Louis, Missouri
  • Women’s Audio Mission – San Francisco, California


“My vision is to ensure opportunities to learn, perform and create music are available to all young people,” said Lewis in a statement. “Ideally, this would be happening in every school, but that isn’t the case, especially in low-income and historically marginalized communities.”

In response to the news, AMP co-founder and CEO Dantes Rameau wrote in a press release, “I am grateful to the entire Atlanta Music Project organization for their hard work and commitment, as our team continues to persevere through these challenging times to support our community. And to our young musicians, who continue to create, perform and discover their voice through music, we commend you for your courage and stand behind you in admiration.”

VIDEO: The inspiring mural on the side of the Atlanta Music Project Center for Performance & Education. [Cell phone video taken by the author: 9/2/2019]

AMP is based at the Atlanta Music Project Center for Performance & Education at the corner of Dill and Hartford Avenues, SW, in the Capitol View neighborhood, but its work goes far beyond the Center, reaching out into a number of Atlanta’s underserved neighborhoods. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Center itself has remained empty, but AMP’s teachers have continued to reach out with online lessons, classes and streamed performances.

“The pandemic has magnified the need for children in underserved and under-supported areas,” says Lewis. “These finalists, and many other CYD [Creative Youth Development] organizations, nimbly adapted as an obligation to both COVID-19 and the racial justice movement.”

Founded in 2010, the Atlanta Music Project provides more than 5,000 hours annually of intensive, tuition-free music education for underserved youth in their own neighborhoods. Currently serving 350 students through eight programs, AMP provides all its students with an instrument and a teaching artist, as well as classes in band, orchestra, choir and music composition. ■