About Us

The IBMA Foundation supports programs and initiatives fostering the growth of bluegrass music through charitable donations and planned giving.

Won’t you help us make the future of bluegrass music brighter?

Our Story

The IBMA Foundation was created by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2007 with a bequest from the Richard Barnhart estate. Mr. Barnhart was a musician from northern Virginia who loved bluegrass and wanted to support educational programs for children. Since the beginning, our goal has been to support bluegrass-music-related educational, literary, artistic and historic preservation activities.

In our early years we produced Discover Bluegrass, an educational video that has been used in thousands of classrooms and libraries around the world. We have hosted dozens of teacher workshops and artist trainings. We created a bluegrass lesson plan competition and provided a network for leaders of after-school bluegrass programs.

Our project grants, which now total $14,000 a year, support bluegrass-related initiatives throughout the world. We also fund mini-grants, which help schools to hire bluegrass bands for school programs. The Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award recognizes excellence in academic research. College scholarships are granted for students working on a bluegrass-related degree, female bluegrass musicians, and songwriters. The Arnold Shultz Fund supports increased participation of people of color in bluegrass music. 

During IBMA’s World of Bluegrass week, the Foundation presents a college bluegrass band showcase, a bluegrass college educators luncheon, and a bluegrass college information session for prospective students and their parents. We also facilitate academic research-related seminars.

The IBMA Foundation, Inc. is a tax-exempt, tax-deductible organization with headquarters in Nashville and a satellite office in Burlington, North Carolina. We are governed by thirteen volunteers appointed by the International Bluegrass Music Association and staffed by a part-time executive director.

Our mission is to build a brighter future for bluegrass music. We help donors create a bluegrass legacy by supporting programs and projects that focus on bluegrass music-related arts and culture, education, literary work and historic preservation.

The IBMA Foundation, Inc. is a tax-exempt, tax-deductible organization (Tax ID number 82-4785593) with headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee and also in Burlington, North Carolina. The Foundation is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a public charity under Section 170(b)(1)(a)(vi), effective November 30, 2017.

Donors contributed more than $100,000 last year to support bluegrass initiatives.

Please consider joining us. Let's build a brighter future for bluegrass! View Our Most Recent Annual Report.Audit (2020-2021)

Board & Staff Leadership

Fred Bartenstein, Chair/President

IBMA Foundation

Sam Blumenthal

Family business owner, author, Earl Scruggs Music Festival board

Becky Buller

The Becky Buller Band

Michael Hall

Northern California Bluegrass Society

Ruth McLain, Secretary

Morehead State University & The McLain Family Band

Alan Tompkins, Vice-Chair

Bluegrass Heritage Foundation

Wendy Tyner, Treasurer

Wintergrass/Acoustic Sound

Lillian Werbin

Elderly Instruments

Kissy Black

Lotos Nile

Richard Brown

Harvard University & The Reunion Band

Laurie Greenberg

Arthur Hancock IV

Hancock & Shouse

Peter Salovey

Yale University & The Professors of Bluegrass

Trisha Tubbs

Michael Webb

University of Tennessee

Ken White

IBMA Executive Director, ex-officio board member

Nancy Cardwell, Executive Director

Former Board Members

Greg Cahill • Peter D’Addario • Henri Deschamps • Mary Doub • Dan Hays (liaison) • Tom Kopp • Kitsy Kuykendall • Jed Malischke • Pat Morris • Carl Pagter • Mark Panfil • Paul Schiminger • Richard Spratt • Tim Stafford • Stephanie Taylor • Yvonne Tatar • Richard Tucker

I first remember hearing bluegrass (it was called “mountain music” at the time) in 1956, on the radio. In 1965 a friend took me to the very first multi-day bluegrass festival in Fincastle, Virginia. Since then, I’ve had all kinds of involvement in the music. Bluegrass and the people in its community have contributed greatly to the happiness of my life. I want others—especially youth and people in parts of the world that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed—to discover and learn about bluegrass. I won’t live forever, so I’m investing my time and money into helping build the IBMA Foundation as a lasting, significant, and worldwide philanthropy.

Fred Bartenstein

Adjunct instructor, University of Dayton

Friend of the Foundation



Join the street team working together to create a brighter future for bluegrass.

Anyone willing to share information with friends and colleagues about IBMA Foundation-hosted scholarships, grants, and programs is WELCOME to sign up as a “Friend of the Foundation” and use the logo above. Fill out the form below to request a free brochure, sticker, and magnet. 

Please display the Friend of the Foundation logo on your websites, social media pages, marketing messages, liner notes, and fliers.

The Friends of the Foundation group is open to all individuals, companies, and organizations interested in helping bluegrass music grow, sharing it with future generations and new audiences around the world. CLICK HERE to read about ways you could help as a Friend of the Foundation.

Click Here to be a Friend of the Foundation

The IBMA Foundation
1183 University Drive #105-215
Burlington, NC 27215