Applications for project grants awarded by the IBMA Foundation are due December 1, 2023. The Foundation awards project grants annually to nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) status or qualified governmental agencies such as public schools and colleges. A total of more than $24,000 in project grants was awarded in 2023 to:

Appalachian Fiddle and Bluegrass Association (Wind Gap, PA): historic mural preservation and exhibit at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum

ArtsQuest (Bethlehem, PA): educational bluegrass event for the public

Asheville (NC) Symphony Society: Amadeus Festival, with artist-in-residence Bela Fleck

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, TN): “I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music” exhibit

California Bluegrass Association (San Francisco, CA): “Bluegrass Bridge” program at Avenal State Prison

East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN): String Band Summit

Junior Appalachian Musicians: programs at schools in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Louisville (KY) Folk Music School: youth bluegrass camp

Miraleste Intermediate School (Huntington Beach, CA): bluegrass club instructor stipends

Queen Bee Music Association (Crested Butte, CO, and Santa Fe, NM): Kids Bluegrass Camps

RVA (Richmond, VA): Bluegrass Jam marathon with free educational concerns featuring regional bands

Tryon (NC) Fine Arts Center: Pathways: Sustaining Junior Appalachian Musician Involvement at Earl Scruggs Music Festival

Wintergrass Music Festival (Bellevue, WA): Eclectic Styles Youth Orchestra

Applications for Arnold Shultz Fund grants are due January 31, 2024. The Fund awarded a total of almost $29,000 in grants in 2023 for 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.

Arnold Shultz Fund grants were awarded to ten programs and individuals last year, plus a special grant to the Black Banjo Reclamations Project in California from a fundraiser raffle conducted by Pisgah Banjo Company.

Dancing with the Spirit (Fairbanks, AK): assistant instructor training and travel for young native Alaskan musicians

Decolonizing the Music Room (Ft. Worth, TX): African American Roots Music Festival

Elephant Grass Musical Chairs Bluegrass Band (Nairobi, Kenya): series of educational bluegrass programs at high schools

Grassy Strings (West Bengal, India): travel grant to bring the first bluegrass band from India to the international outreach program at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France

Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass Neighborhood Band (Chandler, AZ): scholarship for Jam Pak member Gieselle Lacy to attend IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass in 2023 in Nashville, TN

Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass Neighborhood Band (Chandler, AZ): summer bluegrass camp

Montgomery Museum of Art & History (Christiansburg, VA): Cultural Crossroads in Traditional Music concert program, planned for 2023 and rescheduled for 2024

Lamont Pearley (Bowling Green, KY): funding for lessons from Kentucky banjo teacher Jordan Riehm, culminating in a performance in tribute to Arnold Shultz

Azere Wilson (San Luis Obispo, CA): funding assistance for debut album, The Rock the Root the Lean on Me, a culmination of her research on traditional Black music, African American spirituals, bluegrass music, and the blues.

Arnold Shultz (1886-1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky. Shultz, best known as an extraordinary guitarist and fiddle player, 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 Shultz’s 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. Arnold Shultz was a mentor to Bill Monroe, who also credited Shultz with influencing his approach to playing music.

Click here to download a project grant application form. 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.

Please check out this video about the Arnold Shultz Fund, featuring previous recipients.

Return to the November 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.

Photo above: Justin Harrington (aka: Demeanor), an emcee, banjo, and bones player from Greensboro, North Carolina, appeared at the African American Roots Music Festival in Texas last March.