Citigroup gives grant to NKU

Northern Kentucky University’s music preparatory department received a $25,000 grant from Citigroup for a project called “Funding for Arts for Youth in Northern Kentucky.”

The grant allows the preparatory department to offer a beginning strings program at five schools in the Northern Kentucky region: St. Joseph, Crescent Springs Elementary, R.C. Hinsdale Elementary, Cline and Glenn O. Swing Elementary.

The university will send instructors to these schools twice a week for an after-school program where students will learn to play instruments.

A portion of the funding will also provide scholarships to students who study music in the music preparatory department or participate in one of the department’s many ensembles.

“We run about 1,100 people through here in one year’s time,” said Toni Sheffer, director of the music preparatory department.

“We’ve been here for 10 years and it’s just exploded recently.”

Sheffer said the funding will provide a special musical training that is “quite expensive at this level.”

Being a member of any one of the department’s seven youth ensembles costs $130 per semester. Private lessons cost $170 for the 10-week session. The price does not include instrument rental, related equipment, sheets of music or other expenses.

“It takes more than one or two semesters – it takes a long time of training,” Sheffer said.

Sheffer said the grant money is already making a difference. It has allowed the department to begin awarding scholarships to performers.

A majority of the grant was written to provide scholarships to those participating in the beginning strings program. But other scholarships are available to those who wish to study privately on their own instruments.

Some of the funding will also establish a college preparatory curriculum for local high school juniors and seniors. The money would pay for things such as instructors and advertising in the schools.

“NKU was an obvious choice,” said Johnna Fasold, vice president of public relations for Citigroup.

The grant is not Citigroup’s only connection to the university. In addition to its partnership with the preparatory department, Citigroup has been a supporter of NKU’s Metropolitan Education and Training Services (METS). This year the Florence site has donated more than $100,000 to programs in early, secondary and post-secondary schools throughout the community.

“We have enjoyed our partnership with NKU,” Fassold said, “and look forward to sustaining that relationship through our common goal of lifelong learning for residents of the region.”