“Collect. Share. Inspire.” serves as the vision behind the Advocacy in Action Awards debuted this year by Music for All (MFA). The first set of winners was announced in January.
The award categories—Community Engagement, Decision-Maker Interaction, Fundraising & Sponsorship, Marketing & Promotion, Parent & Booster Involvement, and Recruitment & Retention—are six areas that MFA has pinpointed as requirements for a well-rounded music program, says James P. Stephens, Jr., director of advocacy and educational resources at Music for All.
The awards recognized a wide range of achievements from a variety of music programs, including marching bands.
Rouse High School in Leander, Texas, received a gold award in Fundraising & Sponsorship for its Blitz Boost telethon that made more than $12,000 in one day to supplement the band’s budget.
Stephens notes the unique nature of this event: “What’s cool about it is we’re moving away from … [going] door-to-door selling cheese and sausage and things like that.”
Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, received a gold award in the Community Engagement category. In its service project, Wando band members collected school supplies, clothing, money, and more to benefit Lowcountry Orphan Relief. Wando also earned a gold in Decision-Maker Interaction for its “March to P.E.” initiative, which led to South Carolina passing a bill allowing marching band to count as a physical education credit.
“It took one person to say, ‘I wanna do this,’ and then … it was really a community of people—[including] band directors of South Carolina and parents of this particular district—[who] came together to pass that bill,” Stephens recounts.
By recognizing these programs, giving them press kits as part of their recognition, and posting each awarded project’s information online at advocacy.musicforall.org, the Advocacy in Action initiative aims to inspire other music programs to launch long-lasting advocacy efforts.
“Advocacy should be a wellness approach, not an emergency room visit,” Stephens says.