An IBMA Foundation project grant to the California Bluegrass Association (CBA) in April is helping to fund an educational bluegrass program for inmates at Avenal (CA) State Prison, in the San Francisco Bay area. The CBA is currently outlining how they will proceed with volunteer training at the prison, procurement of educational materials, instrument selection from CBA’s loaner library, concerts and regularly scheduled group lessons for each bluegrass instrument.

The IBMA Foundation received the hand-drawn card pictured above from the inmate at ASP (a mandolin player) who requested the funding and 24 of his colleagues who are looking forward to learning to play bluegrass music.

Among the notes that accompanied the card:

“Thanks for your support for the arts in prison. It’s organizations like yours that make good things happen for people in here.”

“Thank you guys so much for your support. Music makes all of our lives so much better.”

“Thank you very much for your help and consideration for us folks. I have been wanting to learn a new type of music and now it looks like I get to pick up something new. Thanks a bunch.”

“I want to express my gratitude for your support of those of us who want to find a fun alternative to crime. Thank you.”

“Thank you kindly. Every inmate in Avenal State Prison appreciates your hospitality and understanding of our situations and past. We appreciate your work of wonders to allow us to be able to play God’s music. Thank you kindly and God bless.”

“Thank you everyone at the IBMA Foundation. Your support of our vision means so very much to me.”

“Thank you for your contributions to us here at ASP. You just don’t know how appreciated it is.”

“Thank you SO much for your amazing support of music for us incarcerated men. For many of us, it’s our lifeblood – a positive way to express ourselves. With deep respect.”

Return to the June 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.