Here we are at the beginning of a much-anticipated new year. In many ways, the last was one of the most challenging in recent history. But, during the most difficult times, priorities can be seen more clearly. In a year when it was difficult to get together to listen to and play bluegrass, we realized how important music is in our lives. In 2021 the IBMA Foundation is more grateful than ever for your support of our mission to share bluegrass music with the next generation of musicians and fans.

In 2019-2020 your support made the future brighter for bluegrass music in many ways. For example:

  • The Foundation awarded $14,000 in project grants to bluegrass music camps, school and after-school programs in Georgia, Washington, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and the Czech Republic, along with IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass program and a theatrical presentation for libraries based on the life of Carter Stanley. Since 2011 the IBMA Foundation has awarded more than $93,000 in project grants, and we will cross the $100,000 milestone in 2021!
  • We awarded $2,700 in Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants to support live and virtual educational bluegrass presentations for students in California, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, and North Carolina. More than $25,000 has been awarded in Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants since 2011.
  • The first round of Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarships for female bluegrass musicians was presented to five recipients studying in Colorado, Connecticut, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. A fund was set up at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to permanently endow the scholarship. Our goal for the endowment is $20,000, and we’re at $17,250 now.
  • The first Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship was awarded to a young woman studying bluegrass in Kentucky.
  • The Arnold Shultz Fund is now accepting proposals for activities, scholarships, or programs to increase the participation of and support for people of color in bluegrass. Individuals, groups, or organizations may apply by the January 31 deadline. For more information about grant opportunities, or to contribute to the Arnold Shultz Fund, visit
  • We just received the news that the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has given us a grant to fund a “Using American Roots Music—Bluegrass in the Classroom” teacher workshop for professional development April 17, 2021, in Bell Buckle, TN.
  • Our free e-newsletter The Cornerstone comes out monthly, and we’re proud to present a newly designed website at
  • During IBMA’s virtual World of Bluegrass, the Foundation hosted its annual showcase of bluegrass college bands, featuring students from North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. We presented a seminar on “How to Create a Bluegrass Legacy” during the business conference, plus two academic-themed sessions organized by Dr. Lee Bidgood of East Tennessee State University. We hosted a booth in the virtual expo hall, reported to the membership at the Industry Awards Luncheon, and funded virtual bluegrass presentations for students in Raleigh, NC for two weeks after the conference.

Thanks to those of you who have chosen to support the future of bluegrass music with a tax-deductible donation or bequest to the IBMA Foundation.  Together, we can make a difference in the world through the powerful artistry and community of bluegrass music. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy new year full of good bluegrass music!

–Nancy Cardwell, IBMA Foundation Executive Director  

RETURN to the January 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.