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February 2016 Grants Newsletter

MUSIC TO OUR EARS: Thanks to a generous teacher from Queens, we support young musicians at Third Street Music School. Siena Sherer (above), now a high school senior, has been studying art and music at the Lower East Side nonprofit since age three. She recently played guitar and sang at a concert open to the public. 

“We’re confident this grant does just what our donor wanted.” — Kerry McCarthy, senior arts program officer

"Tea for Two" and Harmony for Everyone

A gift for music students is in tune with a Lower East Side School

Something magical happens almost every day in a brick building on East 11th Street. Cellos and violins reverberate, singers’ voices fill the halls, and kids tap their feet to jazz, rock, and chamber music. 

This is Third Street Music School Settlement, the country’s oldest community school of the arts. Since 1894, it’s been a refuge and an inspiration for kids who have had family setbacks. Back then, settlement houses provided English lessons and other services for poor, immigrant children; the kids at Third Street got baths from social workers as well as high-quality music lessons. 

Among Third Street’s accomplished graduates is Irving Caesar, who wrote more than 200 songs, including “Swanee” and “Tea for Two.” 

We don’t know if Charlotte Daniels Harris ever heard of Third Street, but we do know she was a Queens kindergarten teacher who wanted her life savings to make a difference in kids’ lives. Before she died, she started a fund in The Trust to help City students who show promise in their studies, demonstrate financial need, have good character, and study music. 

This past year, we used $171,000 from that fund to help five Third Street students go to college. While they will continue to study music, they’re interested in robotics and other careers. In recent years, students who benefited from her generosity went on to Oberlin and Baruch colleges, as well as Northeastern and New York universities. 

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.