Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Merit School of Music

  • Chicago, IL
  • www.meritmusic.org

Mission Statement

Merit School of Music transforms the lives of Chicago-area youth by providing the highest quality music education – with a focus on underserved communities – inspiring young people to achieve their full musical and personal potential.

Main Programs

  1. Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory
  2. Bridges: Partners in Music
  3. Instrumental Music Program
  4. Private Lessons
  5. Early Childhood Programs
  6. Band Program
  7. Piano Program
  8. Voice/Choir Program
  9. Guitar Program
  10. String Program
  11. Suzuki-Alegre String Program
  12. Summer Camps
Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

Metropolitan Chicago

ruling year

1979

Principal Officer

Self-reported

Mr. Thomas F. Bracy

Keywords

Self-reported

music, education, low-income, scholarship, Chicago, Illinois

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EIN

36-3028768

Physical Address

38 S. Peoria St.

Chicago, 60607 2628

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Music (A68)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

With more than 30 years of experience, Merit has grown from a small grass-roots organization to one of the largest community music schools in the United States. As Merit has grown, the School has increased its ability to meet its mission by providing more students access to music training, by deepening and broadening instructional offerings, and by providing more financial support so that motivated students can take advantage of the Merit experience to transform their lives.
 
In March 2011, through a partnership with the Renée Fleming Initiative at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Merit introduced a new Solo Voice Major in the Senior Division of the Conservatory. The Solo Voice Major allows students to concentrate their musical study in one of two areas:  the Opera and Musical Theater major focuses on repertoire from great operas and musicals, and the Jazz Voice major centers on learning jazz, blues and fusion standards. Students learn proper vocal technique through a class in literature for solo voice and take classes in language, diction, theory, acting and movement.

Through public relations, online and offline marketing, and other brand communication tools, Merit will expand the awareness of its brand as a music school; as a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of children from low-income families; as a provider of music programs in underserved communities; and as a concert venue.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory

The Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory provides advanced music instruction for grades 4-12. On Saturdays during the school year, students receive instruction in large ensembles, instrumental technique, music theory and a variety of elective classes. Entry is by audition.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$700,000.00

Program 2

Bridges: Partners in Music

The Bridges: Partners in Music program provides instruction to more than 4,000 students at dozens of community sites throughout Chicago. Bridges programming varies by site, and can include group instruction in orchestra, band, choir, general music, early childhood or instrument specific classes such as guitar or percussion.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$1,000,000.00

Program 3

Instrumental Music Program

The Instrumental Music Program provides group instruction for beginning and intermediate musicians in grades K-9. The program features programming for String, Band, Piano, Guitar and Voice.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)

Budget

$800,000.00

Program 4

Private Lessons

Private Lessons offer weekly 30, 45 or 60 minute lessons for students of all ages. Private lessons provide a potentially transformative benefit for students who have demonstrated that they have the dedication and abilities to reach high levels of musical achievement. Access to private lessons can be a key factor in determining whether a student progresses beyond the intermediate-level to more advanced levels of musical study.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$1,000,000.00

Program 5

Early Childhood Programs

Early Childhood Programs offer weekly day-time music exploration classes for newborns to age 7.  Merit's early childhood programming supports young children’s first steps in a lifetime journey of musical appreciation in a learning environment that is playful, developmentally appropriate and musically rich.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$150,000.00

Program 6

Band Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 7

Piano Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 8

Voice/Choir Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 9

Guitar Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 10

String Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 11

Suzuki-Alegre String Program

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 12

Summer Camps

Not available

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

Metropolitan Chicago

Social Media

Blog

Funding Needs

Examples of your dollars in action: $25 helps give Merit students access to enriching field trip experiences. $50 equips a student with essential instructional materials, such as method books, metronomes, and study aids. $100 equips a low-income student with a quality instrument and accessories. $250 helps a low-income student to participate in our Summer Camp Programs. $500 provides financial aid for a low-income student to participate in beginning and intermediate level group classes for one year. $1,000 underwrites 30-minute private lessons for a beginning or intermediate level student for one academic year. $2,500 funds a student’s participation for one year in the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. $5,000 provides band instruction for 30 students at one of our Bridges: Partners in Music sites for one academic year. $10,000 purchases critical supplies (such as method books and instrument accessories) for 1,000 Bridges: Partners in Music students for one academic year.

Videos

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

MERIT SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Merit School of Music

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2014
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Mr. Thomas F. Bracy

BIO

Bracy originally joined Merit as a faculty member from 1989-1992, and then returned in 2004 to teach in its Bridges: Partners in Music Program. In 2005, Bracy joined the staff as director of operations in charge of facility management. Over the next four years, he earned other duties, including acting director of development and director of human resources, and in 2010 he became Merit’s chief operating officer. Bracy started his career in music education in 1986 as a young band director for the Archdiocese of Chicago while attending Northeastern Illinois University. He continued as a band director for more than 20 years. His primary instrument is percussion with additional studies in trombone. Before joining Merit’s staff, Bracy was executive director of the Association for Catholic Music Education, and from there moved up within the Chicago Park District to become area manager for the Uptown, Lakeview, West DePaul, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Cabrini Green and Gold Coast neighborhoods. Bracy is currently the executive director of Merit School of Music and remains part of its esteemed faculty. He has also acted as a consultant in the areas of management, leadership, and marketing. He earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in organization management and leadership from North Park University.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

J. Barry Mitchell

ComEd

Term: July 2014 - June 2017

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?