The Front Porch

Describe your nonprofit’s mission.
The Front Porch is a roots music school in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Front Porch fosters creativity, growth and community-wide learning through music education, performance and the celebration of Central Virginia’s rich history and culture.

We offer lessons, workshops, master classes, dances, and performances in a wide variety of folk genres in order to create lasting connections between diverse groups of people. As a non-profit, we offer classes at free and reduced rates for those who qualify, and we prioritize paying our master teachers a living wage.

What need in our community brought about the creation of your nonprofit?
There is no dedicated folk school in the Central Virginia region that focuses on educating and promoting roots, folk, and world music heritage. We believe learning music in a community setting creates meaningful experiences that last a lifetime.
How has your nonprofit made a difference in our community?
We have served over 1000 people in the one year we have been open, through lessons, group classes, workshops, and concerts. We also host weekly dances and regular informal jam opportunities. Several of our classes are free to the refugee population, and we just received a grant allowing us to offer our summer concert series for free to populations of need. Our scholarship program has made lessons available for people who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

How can community members help you achieve your mission?
There is a spectrum of involvement available to anyone. Taking a class or a lesson is a great way to start. Attending jams and dances is a great way to connect with other music lovers. Volunteering is also fun — we are always looking for people to help work the door or sell concessions. And if you are a musician, consider offering lessons or a group class!

Tell us a story that has come out of your work.
The most meaningful experiences I have personally had have come from working with our refugee population, who attend folk dance for kids and West African drumming. These children, who come from all over the world, absolutely love learning folk dances from around the world together. We focus on teaching literacy skills and collaboration throughout their classes as well — they learn to work together to keep the dance going, no matter what! So much laughter and hugs — it’s the most heartwarming experience to witness these children in a safe and loving environment, making music together.

Learn more about The Front Porch

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