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CROWDRISE : Mar 29, 2014
Tax ID: 94-3024038
BASED: Walnut Creek, CA, United States


Sound Minds Sound Summer

With the help and support of the teachers, students, parents/families and community we aim to provide our nearly 120 students with a summer session of the Sound Minds Program, which includes a two week extension from the initial May 9th end date. The summer session is projected to last from June 9th -20th and an intensive week added in August, 11th-16th, before school starts.

Since Spring of 2012 the California Symphony Orchestra has been reaching out, interacting, and connecting with students through their Sound Minds program. The program has been working and it has become a program that is near and dear to everyone involved. Working with these students 3-4 days a week during the school year has yielded incredible effects on their self esteem, discipline, focus and accountability.



Results and Testing Data:


Thus far, parents and teachers have commented that students are more focused and engaged in learning and in their every day lives. The students who fulfill the program requirements, keeping a practise log, coming to classes and rehearsals on a consistent basis, participating in scheduled concerts, and working within their family units and communities to achieve their personal goals within the program requirements have shown the most significant improvement. This is not only evident to the teachers in the Sound Minds Program, but also has had direct impact  on their California Standards Tests results. The below chart is provided by the Principal of Downer Elementary School, Marco Gonzales. 





Current Project, Budget, and Funding Goal:


In total, the $30,000 budget will fund 5 weeks of the program, May 12th-23rd (regular program schedule), June 9th-20th (5x/WK), and August 11th-15th (5x/WK).


Due to a decrease in funding we have have a shorter teaching semester this academic year and do not currently have the funding for our summer program which, in the past, has run 3-4 weeks. This year we hope that by extending the schedule into the last two weeks in May, having a two week 5 times a week summer portion, and a week before school starts in August, we can provide better continuity for the students. This not only provides program continuity, but gives the children a place to be for a portion of the summer and starts them actively learning before the school year starts which will hopefully allow for a strong start to their academic school year. Through music education, we hope to continue to support and contribute to the academic and lifelong goals of these students. 


60% of our fundraising goal will go toward the music portion of the program, including staffing and materials. Each student has already had an instrument provided to them through the California Symphony’s past budget and fundraising efforts.


40% will go toward the academic portion, which includes staffing for the academic portion, a mid-morning snack, and their academic materials as needed. 



Background and Program Statement:


In 2010, due to dwindling resources, all West Contra Costa Elementary instrumental music programs were discontinued. During spring 2012, California Symphony launched the pilot session of Sound Minds, an El Sistema inspired program, at Edwin M. Downer Elementary School in San Pablo, CA. Sound Minds features multiple modules, including music instruction, ensemble practice, theory and rhythm, community performances and academic support.  In 2012, the program started with 60 first grade students – 100% of whom were eligible to participate in the free or reduced cost lunch program. Each spring roughly 60 first graders have been brought into the program and to date almost 180 students have participated in the program.  While not all students decide to stay in the program about 70% of the students do. The program has both short term and long term benefits for students, families, and the community as a whole. In addition to building musical skills, the program will enhance academic outcomes and contribute directly to character development, as students set and achieve goals, learn communication and problem-solving skills and gain self-confidence.  Sound Minds calls for three days per week for first year students and four days a week for 2nd grade and above. Sound Minds is based upon the model of El Sistema, conceived of 33 years ago in Caracas Venezuela, when Dr. José Abreu gathered together 11 children to play music. This powerful initiative now teaches music to 300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them. This model comprises a set of inspiring ideals that has led to an intensive after-school music program that seeks to effect social change through the pursuit of musical excellence, and focuses on children with the greatest need. 


These ideals include:

i.      Mission of social change

ii.      Access and excellence

iii.     The nucleo environment

iv.     Intensity

v.      The use of ensemble

vi.     The CATS teacher model: Citizen/Artist/Teacher/Scholar

vii.     Multi-year continuum

viii.    Family and community inclusion

ix.      Connections and network


Our vision is that Sound Minds – with its emphasis on providing mentorship by caring adults, access to academic support and access to sequential and rigorous instrumental music curriculum – will foster self-discipline; strengthen focus, listening  and communication skills; encourage cooperation among peers; improve language and reading skills; and develop a lifelong love of music among students. Sound Minds offers students a safe activity during the after school hours, and a positive outlet for expression. Additionally, Sound Minds will give students the opportunity to form mentoring relationships with teenage and young adult volunteers, hopefully inspiring them to become mentors in later years. While the program’s short term benefits are musically- and academically-focused, longer-term benefits will prove more social and community related. For example, the skills and self-awareness students learn will ideally not only keep them out of trouble and academically-focused during school, they are cornerstones success later in life.  CSO believes that by conducting a sequenced youth orchestra program in San Pablo, we can have a positive long term impact on the academic and social achievements of students that participate in the program.



Giving is Easy! Give by Debit/Credit Card or Cheque.

Cheques Can be made out to:

California Symphony

Memo: "Sound Minds" 


1475 N. Broadway, Suite 420

Walnut Creek, CA  94596



No gift is to small. We urge you to contribute whatever you can part with! California Symphony is a 501c3 organization and is able to provide tax deductable reciepts. 


For exceptionally generous gifts the California Symphony Would like to offer:


At the $250 Level:


  • 2 VIP seating tickets to Pops on the Plaza Concert (in Downtown Concord) on August 28th, 2014. 




At the $500 Level: 


  • 2 tickets to a California Symphony subscription concert. 



On behalf of the students, teachers, parents, and community our deepest gratitude goes out to your support of these vital programs. 

Tax ID: 94-3024038 •


Sound Minds Sound Summer

Sound Minds Sound Summer

Amount Raised:



59% Raised of $30,000 Goal