Although 2021 turned out to be a bit more like 2020 than we had hoped, a healthy dose of optimism and forward movement mixed in with the challenges. The bluegrass community, a scrappy and creative bunch of folks, found new ways to gather, perform, teach and share music. Like the grass that springs up tenaciously between sidewalk cracks, bluegrass music keeps growing. Despite continued uncertainty due to COVID-19 and other issues, we are more grateful than ever for this community.

We wish you a healthy, happy and hopeful new year! Thanks so much for including the IBMA Foundation among the good causes you choose to support. I firmly believe that a brighter future for bluegrass music will make the world a better place for generations to come. Thanks for joining with us to make that happen!

Nancy Cardwell,
IBMA Foundation Executive Director

In 2020-21, your support helped in many ways. 

  • The Foundation awarded $14,000 in project grants to bluegrass music camps, after-school and college-based programs plus more, in Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington. Since 2011 we have awarded more than $107,000 in project grants.


  • We awarded $1,200 in Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants to support virtual educational bluegrass presentations for students in West Virginia and North Carolina. More than $26,200 has been awarded in Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants since 2011.
  • Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarships for female bluegrass musicians were presented to Hayley King from South Carolina and Emma Turoff from New York. The endowment fund which supports this scholarship continues to grow.
  • The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship was awarded to Jessica Lang (no relation to donors Rick and Wendy Lang), a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville and originally from North Carolina. This scholarship has now been endowed!


  • The first recipient of the IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship for students pursuing a professional role in the bluegrass industry was awarded to Autumn Moore, a fiddler from Pennsylvania. The endowment fund for this scholarship is just over $17,000, with a goal of at least $20k. 


  • The new Crandall Creek Scholarship, sponsored by the band of the same name in West Virginia, was awarded to Rainy Miatke, a mandolin player from Oregon. 


  • The Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award, sponsored last year by the John Hartford Family, went to Heather Grimm, a candidate in the interdisciplinary PhD program in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University. 


  • The Arnold Shultz Fund, created in 2020 to encourage participation in bluegrass music by people of color, is co-chaired by Richard Brown and Neil Rosenberg. A raffle held by the Pisgah Banjo Company raised more than $26,000, and a total of $35,000 was donated by the Steve Martin and Purple Crayon Foundations, in addition to many individual donations. More than $72,000 was raised for the Shultz Fund in its first year of existence, with half of that amount invested in an endowment fund to support efforts in the future. First round grants totaling more than $12,000 went to individuals and programs in Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. 


  • A successful “Using American Roots Music—Bluegrass in the Classroom” teacher workshop took place April 17, 2021, in Bell Buckle, TN, with help from Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, J. Gregory Heinike and several talented presenters, with funding from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. 


  • The new “Strings for Dreams Bluegrass Raffle,” produced by Kissy Black, Laurie Greenberg and Nancy Cardwell, raised $16,080. In addition to the grand prize of a carbon fiber Z Mandolin and a custom Calton Case, instrument designer Lee Zapis and his wife Ageleke also donated $12,000 to the new IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship. Nick Khadder, a mandolin player from Alameda, CA, was the lucky winner. A chapter office of the IBMA Foundation was licensed in Burlington, NC, in order to conduct the raffle under North Carolina state regulations and to streamline communications for staff. 


  • Our free e-newsletter The Cornerstone comes out monthly. Look for us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and please check out our redesigned website!


  • During IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, the Foundation staffed an expo hall booth, hosted the Bluegrass College Band Showcase featuring nine bands at the IBMA Bluegrass LIVE Festival, presented a Bluegrass College Info Session that live-streamed on Facebook, and organized an Educators Luncheon for bluegrass instructors on the college level. 

Please join us in supporting the future of bluegrass music with a tax-deductible donation or bequest to the IBMA Foundation. We also encourage your support of IBMA, the IBMA Trust Fund, and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Together, we can make a difference in the world through the powerful artistry and community of bluegrass music. We wish you a very happy new year!

IBMA Foundation Board of Directors: Fred Bartenstein – Chairperson/ President; Alan Tompkins, Bluegrass Heritage Foundation – Vice Chairperson; Ruth McLain; McLain Family Band, Morehead State Univ. – Secretary; Wendy Tyner, Wintergrass/Acoustic Sound – Treasurer; Kissy Black, Lotos Nile; Sam Blumenthal, The Blumenthal Foundation; Richard Brown, Harvard University, The Reunion Band; Becky Buller, The Becky Buller Band; Michael Hall, The Northern California Bluegrass Music Society; Arthur Hancock IV, Wolfpen Branch; Pat Morris, IBMA executive director; Peter  Salovey, Yale University; Michael Webb, University of Tennessee. IBMA Foundation executive director: Nancy Cardwell

RETURN to the January, 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.