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The Ripple Effect of Philanthropy

The Music Academy gratefully dedicates the 2021 Summer Festival to Warren and Mary Lynn Staley

The 2021 Summer Festival is dedicated to a couple whose generous philanthropic contributions and volunteer leadership are making a transformative impact on the Music Academy. Their passion for education, music, and lifting up communities has inspired and supported the Music Academy in its work and numerous other organizations throughout the world. *** THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF PHILANTHROPY How the Music Academy and Steinway partnered with the Staley’s on their mission to bring music education to Ghana “Lives are hard, and music softens it.” – Mary Lynn Staley When Warren and Mary Lynn give, they truly make it count, focusing on organizations that provide youth education and financial opportunities to those in need, in order to break the cycle of poverty. In addition to supporting the Music Academy in program’s like Sing! and its partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, they have worked with Habitat for Humanity (where Mary Lynn was on the National Board) and Opportunity International, that provides microfinance loans, as just an example of their targeted projects. As a former Music Academy Board Chair, Warren noted, “We focus our philanthropy on areas that will take the resources and nurture them over time, in sectors that may not get addressed otherwise.” One such area was in Ghana, where their church in Minnesota had a partner parish. They set out to build a high school on eighteen acres of untouched scrubland to serve the community’s impoverished youth. Eighteen months later, in 2013, the first class was in session. The school also brought electricity, internet, and a booming infrastructure to their area, which resulted in the new designation of the city to a municipality, providing more funding from the state. “It is a beautiful oasis of high school education giving those with very little the opportunity to prosper and do great things,” Mary Lynn shared. Our Lady of Grace now provides an education for over 800 students.
Enter Scott Reed. In 2019, in a meeting at their home, the Staley’s suggested to Scott that the Music Academy partner with them in their passionate work for Our Lady of Grace High School. Scott thought about the shared goal of spreading the joy and appreciation for music and took it one step further. Calling upon the Academy’s remarkable organizational partners at Steinway & Sons in New York City to provide the school with a piano.
It was about eighteen months ago after being shipped, to a long wait in customs, being crated for a seven-hour ride to the school in a van surrounded by tires to cushion it, and finally hand-carried across the large campus to the school’s assembly hall, that the students were able to start their piano lessons. Mary Lynn has watched videos of the students at practice. “Their musical journey is so fun to watch, full of joie de vivre. It is so powerful that Steinway began in Germany but now has been able to reach Ghana to expand appreciation for music. These students are so fortunate to know where the piano came from.” Happily, with increased demand for lessons, a second piano is on its way to the eager students, courtesy of Steinway. The Music Academy extends its deepest gratitude to Steinway and the Co-President of Steinway & Sons Americas Gavin English for making the gift of music come to fruition. It serves a purpose and theme of the Music Academy that goes beyond the Festival: that when you combine philanthropy with partnerships that share your passion, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. – Kate Oberjat Director of Marketing & Communications, Music Academy of the West

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