On Monday, VH1 Save The Music Foundation held its 20th Anniversary Gala in New York. The nonprofit has spent the last 20 years revitalizing public school music programs, supporting the professional development of music teachers, and providing $53 million worth of new musical instruments and other resources to more than 2,000 public schools across the country.
Joining the Foundation in celebrating this milestone included award-winning actress, singer, songwriter, and producer Queen Latifah, a Newark, New Jersey, native who was honored for her contributions to music and her work with low-income students. Queen Latifah and the Foundation recently announced a five-year, $5 million effort to revive music education in 38 schools in her hometown.
Other honorees on hand included Steve Aoki, who received the Music Innovator Award. A Grammy Award-nominated DJ and producer, Aoki was recognized for the impact he’s had on the music industry, his philanthropy through the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, and his advocacy of music education.
Toyota, which served as an event sponsor, acknowledged the work of DJ Khaled with the #ToyotaGiving Award for his role as a champion of school music programs and his work as the national spokesman for the VH1 Save The Music sister organization GET SCHOOLED.
VH1 Save The Music 20th Anniversary Gala: (from left) DJ Khaled and Steve Curtis. (Image: Jason Kempin, Getty Images)
“I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the amazing work that VH1 Save The Music does,” Queen Latifah is quoted as saying in a statement. “This is bigger than just teaching kids how to play instruments—it’s about using music to bring communities together and giving all children a shot at a brighter future. This work can’t stop until every child can access music programs as part of their education.”
“I’m honored to be here to celebrate VH1 Save The Music’s 20th anniversary,” Steve Aoki said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you for this award. Tremendous work has been done bringing back music programs to students across the country. I’m proud to be included with a group of incredible musicians who give back to their communities. I don’t know where I would be without music. These incredible programs will help build the future of music, and I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years of music technology will bring to kids!”
VH1 Save The Music 20th Anniversary Gala: (from left) Executive Director Henry Donahue, Queen Latifah, Whitney Keaton, Raphael Raii Smith. (Image: Jason Kempin, Getty Images)
Speaking of technology, VH1 Save The Music isn’t neglecting it, since tech has had a huge impact on the world of music. The Foundation’s new Music Tech Grant, introduced at the gala by Steve Aoki, will invest in American public high schools to fund the hardware, software, and musical instruments needed for audio engineering, recording, and production.
“Not all children in America are afforded the same chances to succeed, but we believe in the power of music to help students fulfill their potential. That’s why we are more committed than ever to bringing music education to students who need it most,” said Henry Donahue, executive director of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, in a statement.
“Not only is music education proven to help students be more successful, but we believe it’s every child’s right to access music and art within their school and community. With the continued support of our partners in communities across the U.S., we can help make music an essential piece of every child’s education in the next 20 years.”
To learn more about the work of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, visit its website.