News Crusader

Thunderbirds Charities Support National Award-Winning Local After School Music Program

Phoenix, AZ, USA – “I’ve been involved since I was seven or eight. Ever since then, I’ve been building my skills.” Will Kratzenberg, a sophomore in High School and PCM student says. “[I started with piano and then went to audio production.] I had no place to go for sound production or learn how to build or reconstruct sound. PCM showed me how to work inside sound production DAWs and how to mix and even create my own songs. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be all that great… all these people doing what I’m doing. If anything, that is the key to learning – learning what people are doing around you, learning from them and taking some of their knowledge into your own. I feel a sense of family here. Coming here is an escape and you can really improve your skills being here and learning with your family. [As a family] we are being able to build what we’ve been trying to build for a very long time. [As an organization], we finally made it up there, and after all these years… it’s finally paying off.”


And this is the absolute truth. This has been an incredible year for Phoenix Conservatory of Music, a Phoenix based nonprofit community school of music with a very big reach. Phoenix Conservatory of Music received news in November that its College Prep Program was selected for support by Thunderbird’s Charities. “We are so proud to have the support of Thunderbirds Charities”, says Regina Nixon, Executive Director of Phoenix Conservatory of Music. “The support that they give truly helps us to keep our College Prep Program available at an extremely high quality with a low cost for our students. Support like this provides resources so that our students can get a quality music education that is affordable and accessible. And the majority of our students are students in need, qualifying for financial aid and scholarship.”

The Phoenix Conservatory of Music’s College Prep Program is the Conservatory’s flagship program. The College Prep Program has been in operation since a partnership began with Berklee College of Music’s City Music Network in 2010. It is an out of school time program drawing students from all over Maricopa County that takes place 30+ weeks throughout the year. The College Prep Program’s goals are to have seniors successfully graduate from high school and develop a plan for their post high school education with some placement in academic and/or music programs in colleges and universities with scholarship dollars earned, advance our student population in their skill set acquisition through a critical pipeline in music learning, and earn scholarships and admission to summer intensives. Students are given a minimum of 3 hours of music instruction per week for 30+ weeks of the school year totaling 130 hours. The core program offers music theory, ensemble programs and enrichment (starting with percussion, sight singing and piano for younger students, and growing into songwriting, audio production, music business and audition and interview preparation for high school students). In addition, students can opt into private music lessons and multiple ensembles. Our students are at PCM, taking advantage of learning opportunities for 5-10 hours per week.


PCM’s College Prep Program serves on average 110 students per year. In the last seven years, this program has had a 95% high school graduation rate (compared to 86% in our local community), 71% go to college or university, 43% study music or music related fields, and they have cumulatively earned over $1M in scholarship offers.

“I am so thankful for the amazing teachers and lessons I have received. I would never have been able to overcome my fear of stage performance and enhance my talent. Music means so much to me because it has been my oasis in times of stress and need…the opportunity to learn who I am and what I am capable of offering the world.” Jo-el Banini

This honor and support from Thunderbirds Charities is another piece of great news on top of a fantastic year. In January of 2017, Phoenix Conservatory of Music moved into new, larger, more appropriate space inside Metrocenter Mall. In October, PCM was honored with a Mayor’s Arts Award. In November, at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. the nation’s top cultural agencies honored the best Creative Youth Development programs from over 350 nominations from across the country for their work in providing excellent arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people. Three of Phoenix’s own students had the honor of traveling to our Nation’s Capital to The Phoenix Conservatory of Music as it was recognized with a 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The award was presented by The National Endowment for the Arts and their partners.

“This award highlights what we already know, that Phoenix has an amazing arts and culture community that deserves a national stage, with programs that give students the skills to achieve their dreams,” said Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor, chair of the city’s Parks, Arts, Education and Equality Subcommittee. “The Phoenix Conservatory of Music provides essential support and encouragement of students’ creativity and self-expression, something most young people can’t get during the regular school day.”

What is the secret sauce that allows all of this to happen? “All three of my children take lessons here…take ensembles and have enrichment classes”, Says Michael Gleba Sr., “My children [are] just having their horizons expanded and the opportunities and options for them as they grow up are just more than they could possibly think. There are scholarships available and it makes it so much easier with the support the conservatory gives…is just something you don’t see a lot. Being here for several years, knowing all of the hard work that the staff and teachers provide, it makes me proud to see the organization be recognized because it takes so many people to make this work”.

“We are very proud of Phoenix Conservatory of Music’s accomplishments, their music education program is incredible,” said Andy Markham, President of Thunderbirds Charities. “We’re honored and privileged to support PCM students”

Because of the tireless work dedicated to making sure that there are no barriers to serving those students in need, with over 50% of its budget going towards the 62% of its population in need, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music was awarded status as an Arizona State Qualifying Tax Credit Charitable Organization. This is a fantastic benefit for both the student and the donor. The state of Arizona offers its taxpayers the opportunity to make contributions to schools and non-profit organizations that reduce the amount of tax owed to the state or increase the amount of the taxpayer’s refund, dollar-for-dollar. There is NO NET COST to the donor, and deserving individuals around the state benefit. Married Couples can give up to $800 and single filers can give up to $400. Donors just need to make sure to fill out FORM 321 when preparing your taxes to ensure the gift is credited back.

PCM is creating a rallying point for our community, to say that they care that these young people are getting the training and care that they need in a supportive and safe environment. The students are getting opportunities to enhance their education with opportunities and experiences that would otherwise not always be available to them, they have a safe place that creates opportunities for risky innovation, collaboration, and social interaction. This in turn creates a stronger, healthier community and the outcomes are fantastic.

Thunderbirds Charities recognizes the work that Phoenix Conservatory of Music is doing in our community and awarded them with a $10,000 grant to support PCM’s College Prep Program. This is just a small reflection of the great work that is being done and has been done by Thunderbird’s Charities in our valley for the last 31 years.

About Phoenix Conservatory of Music

Phoenix Conservatory of Music provides a continuum of high quality music education and experiences to hundreds of students annually, with programs ranging from introductory level in-house education programs and after school programs to more advanced private lessons and the most prestigious College Prep Program for contemporary music education in the state: The Berklee College of Music’s City Music Network and P.U.L.S.E. programs. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide quality music education that is affordable and accessible. They receive contributed income to make sure that all students have access to music education, regardless of their socio-economic status and were granted status as a Qualifying Charitable Organization for the Arizona State Tax Credit. Since the inception of PCM’s College Prep Program in 2010, the program is providing a pathway for students to achieve their dreams- one note at a time. With 3-10 hours per week of low to no cost engagement, the organization provides students 4-12 grades with private music lessons, music theory classes, enrichment classes and Popular Music Ensembles. They have a 95% graduation rate (compared to an 86% in the local community and a 77% in the state), 71% go on to college or university, 43% of those students are studying music or music related fields, and they have earned more than $1 Million Dollars in Scholarship Offers.

To learn more, please visit http://www.PCMrocks.org or call 602.353.9900.

About Thunderbirds Charities

THUNDERBIRDS CHARITIES is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members.

For more information on the Thunderbirds or the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit http://www.wmphoenixopen.com.

For more information on the Thunderbirds Charities, visit http://www.thunderbirdscharities.org.

Media Contact
Company Name: Phoenix Conservatory of Music
Contact Person: Regina Nixon, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 623-826-0625
City: Phoenix
State: AZ
Country: United States
Website: http://www.pcmrocks.org

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