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.

IBMA Foundation 2019-2020 fiscal year end report

You love bluegrass. You would like to see bluegrass live forever. We have a way you can do that…

We’ve had a strong year at the IBMA Foundation. Over 400 donors shared in our work, with contributions totaling more than $70,000. In a season of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other national challenges, we are more grateful than ever for the bluegrass music community and for those who choose to help us build a brighter future for bluegrass by supporting the IBMA Foundation.

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

Finance Summary, July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020:

June 30, 2020 Statement of Financial Position: Total assets: $225,572 (includes $107,936 in endowment funds at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and invested Vanguard funds), which is up from total assets of $189,165 last year.

July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 Statement of Financial Activity: 

Donations from individuals: $52,024 (more than double last year)
Donations from foundations: 13,500
Corporations: 4,406
In-kind donations: 1,300
Investment income: 3,456
Payout from endowments 2,400
Misc. income: 505
Total income: $77,591 (up from $45,657 last year)

Project grants: $14,000
Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants: 2,700
Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award: 500
Program expenses: 1,060
Administration/Operations: 22,181
Total Expense: $40,441 (up from $35,459 last year)

NET INCOME:  $37,150 (up from $10,198 last year)

Endowments: The IBMA Foundation endowment at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is now worth $50,147. We created a new endowment for the Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship, which totals $15,047. Our goal is to raise an additional $5,000 for a total of $20,000, which can fund an annual $1,000 Sally Ann Forrester scholarship from the 5% pay out. The IBMA Foundation has a profile page with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, here.

The Foundation awarded $14,000 in project grants in 2020 to the following groups:

  • The Acoustic Music Seminar, at the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia
  • The Ballard High School Fiddlers, in Seattle, Washington
  • Bluegrass Day Camp for Kids, at the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua in Washburn, Wisconsin
  • IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass program, held in Nashville, Tennessee
  • “A Life of Sorrow: The Life & Times of Carter Stanley,” presented by Showtimers Community Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia
  • Kindergarten Bludovice: Bluegrass to Kindergarten, in the Czech Republic
  • Stokes Junior Mountain Music and 3rd Saturday Grass, in Danbury, North Carolina
  • The Yadkin Junior Appalachian Musicians, an afterschool program in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

Bluegrass in the Schools mini-grants in 2019-2020 were made to help pay bands do live, educational bluegrass music presentations at schools in Jackson, MS; Fallbrook, CA; Buffalo, NY; Cary, NC; Raleigh, NC; Moravia, IA; San Diego, CA; and Owensboro, KY.

Since 2011 the IBMA Foundation has awarded more than $93,000 in project grants to educational programs for children, scholarship funds, film documentaries, and other bluegrass activities in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington state, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Since 2011, more than $25,000 has been awarded in mini- grants to help pay bluegrass bands presenting educational, live music programs in schools.

Scholarships & Funds

The first five recipients of the Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship, designated for female bluegrass musicians, include:

  • Megan Cody, at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Clara Guilmette, at Central Connecticut State University
  • Jessica Lang, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Anne Jarrell, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Bailey Stephenson, at West Liberty University in West Virginia.

The first recipient of the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship is Heather Alley, who studies at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Rick and Wendy Lang plan to fund another songwriter scholarship in 2021.

Our newest initiative is The Arnold Shultz Fund, to encourage participation in bluegrass music by people of color. The Shultz Fund Advisory Committee that will determine how funds are used includes co-chairs Dr. Richard Brown and Neil V. Rosenberg, PhD, plus Erika Brady, PhD and Trisha Tubbs. More than $30,000 was raised for the Shultz Fund during its first two months of existence, thanks in part to a generous donation from banjo player/comedian Steve Martin. The Denver Bluegrass All-Stars performed in a live-streamed concert from Denver to help initiate support for the Shultz Fund.

Our free e-newsletter, The Cornerstone comes out monthly, A click-through rate of 28-32% is high for nonprofit publications.

Members of the board include: Fred Bartenstein, University of Dayton (Chairperson/ President); Alan Tompkins, Bluegrass Heritage Foundation (Vice Chairperson); Ruth McLain, McLain Family Band, Morehead State University (Secretary); Wendy Tyner, Wintergrass/ Acoustic Sound (Treasurer); Kissy Black, Lotos Nile; Sam Blumenthal, Sam Blumenthal Foundation; Dr. Richard Brown, Harvard University, The Reunion Band; Becky Buller, The Becky Buller Band; Michael Hall, The Northern California Bluegrass Music Society; Arthur Hancock, Hancock & Shouse; Dr. Peter Salovey, Yale University; Michael Webb, East Tennessee State University; Paul Schiminger, IBMA Executive Director (ex officio board member). Nancy Cardwell serves as Executive Director.  Peter D’Addario rotated off the board in 2020, and we deeply appreciate his service, which included a term as board chair.

During World of Bluegrass week in Raleigh, Sept. 2019, the Foundation staffed a booth in the expo hall with other members of the IBMA family of organizations, and we helped to organize and promote the “New Research in Bluegrass Music” academic-themed seminar on Thursday. On Friday we hosted a bluegrass college program info session targeted to high school students and their parents, featuring presentations and music from a dozen college groups and directors. Immediately afterward, we hosted a college bluegrass educators luncheon. The Bluegrass College Band Showcase has grown from seven to thirteen ensembles and was presented on the Youth Stage Friday and Saturday evenings. We also funded three mini-grants to support bluegrass presentations to schools in Raleigh and Cary, NC, during WOB week.

During IBMA’s first ever virtual World of Bluegrass events Sept. 28 – Oct. 3, 2020, the IBMA Foundation hosted two academic seminars (“Go to Bluegrass U” and “New Research in Bluegrass”) plus a session called “Creating a Bluegrass Legacy.” Six bands were featured at the annual IBMA Foundation Bluegrass College Showcase—on video this year, and we also staffed a booth in the virtual World of Bluegrass Exhibit Hall.

New donors have made contributions to the Foundation from family estates; others notified us that they have included the Foundation in their wills. We took part in the “Giving Tuesday” matching campaign on Facebook and The Big PayBack campaign through our association with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. A 2019 year-end donation mailing garnered support, and we benefited from a collaborative fundraising effort in December with IBMA and the IBMA Trust Fund.

Our sponsors include Mary Tyler Doub (2019 Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholarship Award), Mark Hodges with Mountain Fever Music Group (IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship challenge), Murphy Henry (Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship), and Mary Faith Rhoads-Lewis with John Pearse Strings/Breezy Ridge Instruments (promotional picks featuring our new logo). Several more donors have joined in to support the Arnold Shultz Fund and the Sally Ann Forrester college scholarships. Ricky and Wendy Lang funded a new songwriter scholarship.

The inventor of Z Mandolins has donated $1,000 from each instrument sold in 2020 and has also given mandolin #25 to the Foundation to use in a fundraising raffle project planned to culminate in 2021.

We received a discretionary funds grant of $3,500 from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee which we plan to use to fund a “Bluegrass Music in the Classroom” teacher workshop for professional development for school teachers and home schooling parents in Bedford and Coffee counties in Tennessee, in late 2020.

Our committees work in the areas of Finance, Nominating, Marketing/Communications, Mini-Grant Review, Project Grant Review, Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Review, Philanthropy, and Scholarship Review, plus the Arnold Shultz Fund Advisory Committee and the Executive Committee.

Contact: Nancy Cardwell, IBMA Foundation, 4206 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN, 37216. (615) 260-4807. Thanks for working with us to make the future of bluegrass brighter!