The IBMA Foundation supports programs and initiatives fostering the growth of bluegrass music. We help donors create a legacy for future generations of musicians and fans by connecting resources to projects that focus on bluegrass music-related arts and culture, education, literary work, and historic preservation. Join us on FaceBook.

Our patrons

We are so grateful for the support of our patrons. Click here to see the list of our generous donors.

Two types of grants

IBMA Foundation Project Grants- (up to $2000 each) are designed to assist programs that align with the goals of the Foundation. Deadline to apply: December 1. 


Bluegrass in the Schools Mini Grants- Schools or other groups organizing "Bluegrass in the Schools" assemblies should apply for a Mini Grant instead. (generally $300 per school assembly)


To download the appropriate forms for these two types of grants, click on the "Grant" tab at the top of our Home Page.

The work of the Foundation

The IBMA Foundation has proudly supported these worthwhile programs:


Project Grant Recipients:











and dozens of Mini-grants, funding live, educational presentations by bluegrass bands from around the world, at schools.

Arnold Shultz Fund launched to support increased participation in bluegrass by people of color

Last month the IBMA Foundation announced the establishment of an Arnold Shultz Fund to support activities increasing participation of people of color in bluegrass music. Arnold Shultz (1886–1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky who had a profound influence on Bill Monroe’s music and the development of bluegrass. (See an extended biography elsewhere in the July issue of The Cornerstone.)

The idea for the fund grew out of a recent online conversation among alumni of IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass program. In less than a month, almost $5,000 has been raised. In 2017 Rhiannon Giddens, in a keynote address at World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, challenged the bluegrass music community to “tear down those artificial divisions and let bluegrass and string band music be the welcoming place that it has, and can be…in more and more places.”

To help build awareness and support for the Arnold Shultz Fund, a group of some of Denver, Colorado’s best bluegrass musicians organized a fundraising concert live streamed on June 26. Thanks to band members Andy Hall and Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters), Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass), Greg Garrison (Leftover Salmon), and flatpicking champion Tyler Grant. A portion of proceeds from the concert were donated to the IBMA Foundation for the Arnold Shultz Fund.

Arnold Shultz Fund co-chairs Richard S. Brown, DMD and Neil V. Rosenberg are in the process of appointing an advisory committee, which will make decisions about how donations to the fund will be used. Such uses might include scholarships, awards or projects. Dr. Brown is a nationally known mandolinist in the Bill Monroe style, a member of the IBMA Foundation’s board of directors, and an African American. Dr. Rosenberg is a noted bluegrass historian, author, banjoist, and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member. At press time, Dr. Erika Brady, a professor of folk studies at Western Kentucky University, had also agreed to serve on the committee.

“We have to see where bluegrass music can go, where it hasn’t gone before,” Dr. Rosenberg said, “by paying attention to people who are sometimes seen as on the fringe or outsiders. The Arnold Shultz Fund seeks to welcome people of color into bluegrass. As a musician I’ve always appreciated the progressive nature of this music. It’s never the same. Here’s an important opportunity for us to develop, to take new directions.”

“Of course I think the Arnold Shultz Fund is a great idea,” Dr. Brown said. “Arnold Shultz is long overdue for recognition because of his influence on bluegrass music. Arnold played with Bill Monroe’s fiddling uncle Pen Vandiver as a guitarist. Shultz was also a sought-after fiddler and later hired Bill to play guitar for him at dances. Bill Monroe told me about Arnold Shultz and their dance gigs more than 50 years ago, when I was in my twenties. The stories would always end with Bill saying, ‘Now, isn’t that something?’ Yes, it’s time to take Arnold Shultz, one of our hidden legends, out of obscurity and into the mainstream.”

Bill Monroe’s first paying gig as a musician was when Shultz hired him to play guitar for a local dance. Though Shultz never recorded, Monroe credited him as a powerful influence on bluegrass music. In Robert Cantwell’s book, Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound, Monroe is quoted as saying, “There’s things in my music, you know, that come from Arnold Shultz—runs that I use a lot in my music, I don’t say that I make them the same way that he could make them ’cause he was powerful with it. In following a fiddle piece or a breakdown, he used a pick and he could just run from one chord to another the prettiest you’ve ever heard…. Then he could play blues and I wanted some blues in my music too, you see.”

After learning from local musicians and those who traveled through western Kentucky, Shultz became a wanderer who was away from the region for months at a time. It’s likely he heard and played with a variety of musicians who worked on the steamboat lines that cruised the Mississippi from St. Paul to New Orleans, and the Ohio River from Cairo to Pittsburgh, docking at Evansville, Louisville, Cincinnati and Owensboro—the latter only a few miles from where he grew up. From 1919-22 Shultz could have heard musicians like Louis Armstrong and any number of Dixieland jazz, blues and ragtime musicians based out of St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati. 

“Whatever his sources,” William E. Lightfoot wrote in articles for the Oxford University Press and the African American National Biography, “Shultz assimilated the music of the 1920s—popular (both old standards and contemporary), blues, rags, religious music, old-time fiddle tunes and breakdowns, and jazz—as well as several instrumental techniques: flat-picking, finger style, and the open-tuned slide method on the guitar and both long-bow and short-bow fiddling styles. He became, in other words, a textbook example of a ‘musicianer,’ one who specializes in a wide variety of instrumental styles.”

The IBMA Foundation supports the following vision statement of the International Bluegrass Music Association: Diversity and inclusion are essential to the well-being and continued growth of bluegrass music. We encourage, embrace and celebrate the participation and involvement in bluegrass by people of all abilities, genders, orientations, identities, faiths, culture and backgrounds.

Our profound thanks to the following individuals whose early financial support helped the Foundation to launch the Arnold Shultz Fund: Kathy Sacra-Anderson, Eric Arnold, Chip Bach, Fred & Joy Bartenstein, Richard Brown, Mary Burdette, Amanda Campeau, Thomas Cassell, Ethan Charles, Danny Clark, Laura Cooper, Mark Dillon, Jerry Eicher, Venetia Ember Everly, Greg Garrison, Deborah George, Margaret Gerteis, Tyler Grant, Andy Hall, Richard Hawkins, Casey Henry, Paul Huffman, Jim Hughes, Emma John, Benjamin Krakauer, Jen Larsen, Edward Lick, Ursula Long, Steve Martin, Kathleen McMahon, Greg Miller, Alan Niederland, Glenda Olszowy, Akira Otsuka, Chris Pandolfi, Betsy Perkins, Len Radin, James Reams, Annie Savage, Bonnie Schwarz, Jon Shore, Jessica Smith, Tim Stafford, Travis Stimeling, Lee & Lydia Stivers, Kevin Dean Strouth, Trisha Tubbs, Wayne Tuckson, David Hershey-Webb, Nancy Cardwell Webster, and Jon Weisberger.

Return to July 2020 issue of The Cornerstone.