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Corvallis Schools Foundation funds Musical Instrument Program
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Corvallis Schools Foundation funds Musical Instrument Program

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The Corvallis Schools Foundation completed its fundraising for the Musical Instrument Program providing nearly $48,000 in support of music education for students in the Corvallis School District.

Harlene Marks, chair of the foundation, said CSF supports learning with their goal to inspire, innovate and invest in opportunities for all Corvallis students.

CFS was formed as a non-profit in 1998 and serves the district in two different ways. They provide classroom teacher grants for everything from innovative projects to scholarships for field trips then have a special project focusing on a specific larger need of the school.

“The school district submits projects to the CFS that are beyond the school district budget and larger in size than a teacher grant,” Marks said. “Last year’s project was the Musical Instrument Program and it was our largest project to date. All students, K-12, are impacted by the project.”

The K-12 music program at Corvallis began decades ago and has grown. Currently, all primary school students, 73% of middle school students and 45% of the students at the high school participate in music. The music programs continue to grow beyond the budget. For example, in the last five years, the band and orchestra programs have grown more than 25%. The challenge is to provide enough working instruments to keep up with the interest. The budget only allows for minor repairs, not proper maintenance of instruments, or replacing instruments beyond repair.

“The primary school had failing percussion instruments and was in need of a new xylophone,” Marks said. “We’ve provided funding for that. At middle school and high school there is band, orchestra and choir and they had a large list of needs as their instruments were 25-40 years old.”

In addition to the new percussion instruments and xylophone for the primary school, The CSF Musical Instrument Project provided 25 additional instruments for the low-cost band/orchestra rental program, replacements of aging brass/woodwind/string instruments for middle/high school band/orchestra, additional program instruments for the orchestra and guitar classes and a new electronic keyboard for the middle/high school choirs, band and jazz band.

“The cost of a musical instrument can be anywhere between $700 and $3,000. Families can’t afford that and it is beyond what the school can afford as well,” Marks said. “CSF formed the [Musical Instrument Program] last September to provide funds for all the musical instruments the school needed so this program can continue for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Fundraising began with letters to Corvallis residents and community businesses.

“Businesses made many in-kind donations to help with the fundraising as well as individual donations, the community came back very strong in support of this project,” Marks said. “This past year has been a little difficult for fundraising for nonprofits and we’ve had to cancel two of our fundraisers.”

The CSF creatively changed to online raffles, auctions and grants. Marks said thanks go to individual donors, the Corvallis community, the Corvallis Performing Arts Booster Club, the Rapp Family Foundation, The Greater Ravalli Foundation, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, The Corvallis Schools Foundation and an anonymous donor.

“The Corvallis Performing Arts Booster Club was a wonderful partner for this project, proving donations and challenge grants for this project,” Marks said. “It was really a pleasure to coordinate and fundraise for this project.”

She said the $47,500 raised will fulfill musical instrument needs, provide funds for repairs and continue their affordable rental program that allows students from a low socioeconomic background to participate in instrumental music free of charge. Financial contributions toward the project and donations of high-quality student instruments are always welcome.

“We keep the donations in a dedicated fund so if an instrument breaks we can replace it or repair it down the road,” Marks said.

The 2018-2019 initiative was the purchase of microscopes for Corvallis Middle School. Previous projects include purchasing bicycles for outdoor education, tablets to help with reading and communication, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) labs, performing arts needs like equipment and scripts and over 60 other quality projects.

The school district is selecting a project for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are all an all-volunteer group and have been growing fast to better support the school,” Marks said. “Teacher grants have included 3D printers, field trips, a kiln, a classroom-without-walls program and active seating for the little wiggly guys. We work in a variety of areas.”

Marks said she enjoys working to help provide what the school needs.

“I’m getting excited emails from the teachers because they are so excited, it really makes it worthwhile,” she said. “This is an exciting time for the school, teachers and community. We’re the only school in the valley with a string instrument music program. Our new high school choir teacher Heidi Schnarr said, ‘It is really wonderful to be involved in a district that supports the arts,’ that stays in my mind. None of this would be possible without the support of the community.”

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