$20K will help sustain Clayton ‘Jazz in Classroom’ program

Members of the Boston-based jazz band Brighton Beat perform with South Jefferson Central High School students during the Clayton Jazz Festival’s 2019 Jazz in the Classroom program. The Northern New York Community Foundation recently awarded a grant to the program to support its long-term sustainability. Contributed photo

CLAYTON — Due to grant support totaling $20,000 from the Northern New York Community Foundation, a program that teaches students about jazz music and enhances their artistic abilities is on a path to continue for years to come.

Grant support, which has been given to ensure the long-term sustainability of Clayton Jazz Festival’s “Jazz in the Classroom” program, was approved earlier this year. The award will help fund the educational initiative over three years and is supported, in part, by the Grace L. Reinman Fund of the Community Foundation.

To help establish and build a permanent Jazz in the Classroom Endowment Fund at the foundation, a $5,000 grant was awarded with an additional $5,000 commitment to match gifts.

“The endowment will help us bridge any gaps in program funding year to year and bring longevity to the program,” said Michelle Grybowski, Jazz in the Classroom program coordinator, in a statement. “This experience is so unique, and it may supplement things that aren’t able to happen in the classroom. There is a great chance for this program to have a legacy.”

An extension of the annual Clayton Jazz Festival, the Jazz in the Classroom program has been a musical and educational experience for Jefferson County students since 2017. The Community Foundation has supported the festival and its school-based education program since 2015.

“The value of this musical and arts program and experience on local students is immeasurable. The Foundation is fortunate to have been a partner on this endeavor early on,” said Max DelSignore, Community Foundation assistant director, in a statement. “We wanted to ensure our belief in the program through this commitment. There is a great opportunity for the community to support Jazz in the Classroom now and build for its future.”

Organizers plan to schedule the next program in March 2021, offering the experience to students in Watertown High School, Belleville-Henderson and Immaculate Heart Central School. Its rotation to different Jefferson County schools each year has allowed students to participate while also building confidence and self-esteem in young artists.

To join in support for Jazz in the Classroom, gifts may be made to the program’s endowment fund at Northern New York Community Foundation, 131 Washington St., or through secure online giving at www.nnycf.org.

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