Arnold Shultz Fund endowed, next grant deadline is January 31, 2022

“The Arnold Shultz Fund is an initiative that welcomes the participation of people of color in bluegrass music, ” said Dr. Richard Brown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who co-chairs the Arnold Shultz Fund advisory committee with Dr. Neil Rosenberg of Newfoundland, Canada. “As an African American who has played bluegrass music for over 60 years and co-founded the Boston Bluegrass Union in 1976, this initiative means a lot to me personally. The Foundation’s support of the Arnold Shultz Fund emphasizes the board’s belief that bluegrass music is for everyone who wants to play it or listen to it. We appreciate your support, present or future, as we continue to make Shultz Fund grants available to people from previously underrepresented backgrounds in the bluegrass music community.”

In just under a year, more than $60,000 have been raised in support for the Arnold Shultz Fund. Grants totaling $12,050 have already been awarded in 2021, and a second round of grants will be awarded in early 2022. An endowment fund at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee will be started in June with the goal of supporting Shultz Fund grants in perpetuity.

“The Foundation is grateful to contributions from the Steve Martin Foundation, Mark Olson and Alyson McGregor with the Purple Crayon, and the Pisgah Banjo Company for their generous support of the Arnold Shultz Fund in our first year,” said Nancy Cardwell, “along with donations from dozens more. We even had three beginner-level banjos donated recently from instructor/musician Casey Henry of Virginia, which the Shultz Fund was able to regrant to the Black Banjo Reclamation Project,” Cardwell added. “Because of Casey’s generosity, two African American families in Alabama and Georgia interested in learning to play the banjo—an instrument that originally came from Africa—now have instruments to learn upon.”

“The DC Bluegrass Union, in conjunction with B Chord Brewery in Round Hill, VA is also hosting a Juneteenth (June 19) ‘Bluegrass Revival,’ and they will be soliciting donations for the Arnold Shultz Fund at the info table,” Cardwell added. “The Dan Tyminski Band and Tray Wellington will be performing. Info here.

Arnold Shultz (1886 – 1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky. Best known as an extraordinary guitarist and fiddle player, Shultz often played guitar with Bill Monroe’s fiddle-playing uncle, Pendleton (“Pen”) Vandiver. It was at these gigs that Monroe met Arnold Shultz and began to emulate his backup guitar style. Shultz was impressed enough with Monroe’s progress that he hired Monroe to play with him at dances, Monroe’s first professional music jobs. Arnold Shultz was a mentor to Bill Monroe, who also credited Shultz with influencing his approach to playing music in multiple ways.

For 2022, the IBMA Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund will award grants for activities that increase participation in bluegrass music by people of color. Applicants may be individuals, schools, groups, organizations, or government entities. People of color are people with racial/ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in bluegrass:  Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous First People, Indigenous Pacific Islander, etc. Priority will be given to programs, activities, or individuals that demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and serving diverse, underrepresented populations in bluegrass music.

The Arnold Shultz Fund Application Form at this link and all required supporting documentation must be received by January 31, 2022. Download, fill in, sign, and email the Application Form and all required materials to Email is preferred, but materials mailed to IBMA Foundation, 1183 University Drive #105-215, Burlington, NC 27215 and received by January 31, 2022 will also be accepted.

For information on how to make a donation to the Arnold Shultz Fund, contact Nancy Cardwell at or 615-260-4807, or go to

Photo above: Members of the Jam Pak Band, a neighborhood bluegrass program in Chandler, AZ that was awarded an Arnold Shultz Fund grant in 2021 for their BanJam lesson series, pose with an acoustic bass recently given to them by the IBMA Foundation from an anonymous donor. (photo by Anni Beach)

RETURN to the June 2021 issue of the newsletter.