The IBMA Foundation recently awarded $14,000 in project grants for bluegrass programs in eight states plus wider virtual audiences. “We’re proud to announce a diverse list of recipients for 2021 which will support bluegrass education and historic preservation programs for both young people and adults,” said board chair Fred Bartenstein. “We are grateful to our donors who continue to support the Foundation during the COVID pandemic. Their generosity has made it possible to award grants to these very deserving programs.” Six of this year’s grants are sponsored by a generous bequest from Dick Barnhart, a lover of bluegrass music.

Foundation grant recipients for 2021:

  • The Archbold Music Commission; Industrial Strength Bluegrass: An Evening with Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers – Archbold, OH
  • Birthplace of Country Music Museum, “Pick Along! Summer Camps” – Bristol, VA/TN
  • Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Virtual Bluegrass in the Schools & Assembly – Owensboro, KY  
  • Ferrum College, Appalachian Instrument Library – Ferrum, VA
  • Georgia Elementary and Middle School, Bluegrass Intensive Middle School Unit – Georgia, VT
  • Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association, Grass Seeds at Fall Jam and Winter Weekend – Minneapolis, MN
  • Queen Bee Music Association, Queen Bee’s Kids Bluegrass Camp – Santa Fe, NM
  • Wintergrass Music Festival, Pocketgrass Youth Academy Club with Mr. Joe and the Youth Orchestra – Bellevue, WA and virtual

The Archbold Music Commission will host a free outreach concert in Archbold, OH, October 9, 2021, called “Industrial Strength Bluegrass: An Evening with Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers.” The goal of the program is to share cultural significance and traditions of bluegrass music in Ohio with the regional community. The educational, live music presentation is a part of a larger project spotlighting the history of bluegrass music in Ohio, which also includes a book (Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio’s Musical Legacy – University of Illinois Press) and an upcoming CD with the same name (Smithsonian Folkways).

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, located in Bristol, VA/TN, hosts “Pick Along Summer Camps” for children throughout the summer at the museum. Instruction is offered on instruments played on the historic 1927 Bristol sessions recordings (banjo, acoustic guitar, fiddle), along with classes in dance, singing, and an introduction to a working radio station. Bluegrass music is included in the mix, along with old-time and traditional country music. (Barnhart Fund)

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, KY, for many years has hosted a series of educational bluegrass presentations in January and February for more than 9,000 students at 23 schools in Daviess County. Due to COVID-19, the Museum is creating a virtual version of the program which may reach even more students than in previous years. (Barnhart Fund)

The Ferrum College Appalachian Instrument Library on campus in Ferrum, VA, will be a lending library of musical instruments that will make the college’s Orchestra Appalachia program more accessible to students, and will also serve community members who cannot afford their own instruments for practice and instruction.The new library will include two mandolins, two guitars, two fiddles, and at least two banjos. Additional instrument donations will be encouraged from alumni. The Orchestra Appalachia program focuses on bluegrass, old-time, gospel, blues and other related genres.

Georgia Elementary and Middle School in Georgia, VT, will host an intensive 12-week course offered at the middle school level, giving students the opportunity to learn an acoustic string instrument and culminating with a performance. The grant from the Foundation will be used to purchase three banjos, three guitars, three mandolins, storage hangers, picks and books. (Barnhart Fund)

The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association (MBOTMA) Grass Seeds youth workshops are held in conjunction with the Winter Bluegrass Weekend and Fall Jam festivals in Plymouth, MN. The groups meet for one session Friday night, two sessions on Saturday, and one session Sunday morning. Students can show what they have learned with a main stage concert on Sunday afternoon. (Barnhart Fund)

Queen Bee Music Association (Santa Fe, NM) hosts the week-long Queen Bee’s Kids Bluegrass Camp that provides children age 7-14 an experience in bluegrass music education. Led by Bonnie and Taylor Sims, Matt Brown, and Brian Nelson, students learn to play in a bluegrass band with other students, write songs, and advance their individual skills through instrument breakout sessions. The day camp offers training for first timers as well as intermediate players. (Barnhart Fund)

The Wintergrass Music Festival (Bellevue, WA) Pocketgrass Youth Academy Club with Mr. Joe will meet quarterly in 2021, free to all students. Music instruction will be provided for children age 7-14, along with bluegrass history lessons and beginning clogging. Joe Craven and his guests will teach banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, cello, bass, and multicultural hand percussion. Lessons include improvisation, the art of the jam, and songwriting. The Pocketgrass Youth Orchestra also meets quarterly and is free. In a collaboration with Seattle Pacific University orchestral students, high schoolers will participate in individual and group recordings, work with artist Martha Redbone, and will perform on the online Pocketgrass program. (Barnhart Fund)

The IBMA Foundation supports programs and initiatives fostering the growth of bluegrass music. The Foundation helps donors create a legacy for future generations of musicians and fans by connecting resources to projects that focus on bluegrass music-related arts and culture, education, literary work, and historic preservation.

For information on becoming a sponsor of an IBMA Foundation project grant, making a donation to the IBMA Foundation, or applying for an IBMA Foundation project grant or a Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grant, please visit or email

Return to the February 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.