November 17, 2019
Shelter Music Boston Gets $250K, Its Largest Grant to Date

February 13, 2018 — Shelter Music Boston, a nonprofit based in Arlington that employs professional musicians to perform classical chamber music concerts in homeless shelters and other environments of need throughout Greater Boston, yesterday announced it has received a $250,000 grant, its first major grant award.

Shelter Music Boston (SMB) said the five-year grant from the Ilene Beal Charitable Foundation will support two significant initiatives: and ongoing program of concerts at The Dimock Center in Roxbury, now called The Ilene Beal Concerts for Women, and the launch of a new music program for children and families affected by homelessness.

Julie Leven, who founded SMB in 2010 and serves as its artistic director, said, “We are remarkably grateful to receive this grant and deeply honored to carry on Ilene Beal’s legacy. By making such a substantial investment in SMB, the foundation affirms our work and our approach, joining a dedicated community of contributors who make our programming possible.”

The children’s program, launched earlier this month in collaboration with the Boston Philharmonic, will provide monthly concerts at an after school program with the Malden-based organization, Housing Families.

“Shelter Music Boston is at the forefront of building artistic response to the needs of individuals in deeply challenging life situations,” said Jessica Schmidt, SMB board member and long-time arts administrator and consultant. "Their programs differentiate themselves by using musical performance to build human dignity and exchange."

The grant represents a substantial financial input to the organization, which for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016, had revenues of $119,000, all from contributions and grants.

SMB works with numerous organizations, including the Pine Street Inn, the Pine Street Women's Inn, Shattuck Shelter, Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation, Lifebridge of Salem, and Housing Families, and performed its 250th concert in 2015.

The goal of SMB's work is to promote community, creative interaction, respect, and therapeutic benefit by transforming shelter environments through music.

According to SMB, shelter staff report that shelters are calm during and after our concerts and that shelter guests sleep better the nights of the performances.

"Music is the catalyst for opportunities to look a homeless individual in the eye and say 'I want to know what you think about this, and I am going to listen to your story,'" said Leven, who in 2014 was named a Boston Neighborhood Fellow by The Philanthropic Initiative.

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