Applications for Arnold Shultz Fund grants are due January 31, 2022. The IBMA Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund supports activities that increase participation in bluegrass music by people of color.

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. Applicants may be individuals, schools, groups, organizations, or government entities. Priority will be given to programs, activities, or individuals that demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and serving diverse, underrepresented populations in bluegrass music.

In 2021, the Foundation awarded $12,050 in Arnold Shultz Fund grants to eight programs and individuals, including the following:

  • BASEArizona and Jam Pak Band, BanJam 2021; Chandler, AZ
  • Bluegrass Pride and Decolonizing the Music Room, “Juneteenth: A Rainbow Revival”; San Francisco, CA and Fort Worth, TX
  • Dancing with the Spirit, Bluegrass Song Videos & Curriculum for Alaskan Village Schools; Fairbanks, AK
  • Nokosee Fields, recording project; Lafayette, LA
  • Louisville Folk School, “Black Voices in Kentucky Music History”; Louisville, KY
  • NorthStar Church of the Arts, “Country Soul Songbook”; Durham, NC
  • Stephen Wang, guitar lessons; Los Gatos, CA
  • Tray Wellington, audio and visual gear upgrade; Johnson City, TN

Arnold Shultz (1886 – 1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky and a mentor to Bill Monroe, who credited Shultz with influencing his approach to playing music. 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 guitar with him at dances, thereby giving Monroe his first professional music jobs.

Click here to download the application for Arnold Shultz Fund grants. Eligible organizations and individuals may apply for one or both grants. For more info, go to, email or call (615) 260-4807.

Photo above: Banjo students practice new skills at BanJam 2021 in Chandler, Arizona, one of the programs funded in part last year by a Shultz Fund grant.

Return to the January, 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.