Atlanta Music Project misses big Lewis Prize, wins $50,000 consolation

Caption: Atlanta Music Project co-founder and executive director Dantes Rameau has been selected for Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. CREDIT: CONTRIBUTED BY LAUREN THOMAS
Caption: Atlanta Music Project co-founder and executive director Dantes Rameau has been selected for Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. CREDIT: CONTRIBUTED BY LAUREN THOMAS

Credit: Picasa

Credit: Picasa

The Atlanta Music Project (AMP), a nonprofit that provides free instruments, instruction and music education for underserved children, just missed winning a $500,000 prize for innovative music educators.

Cofounder and CEO Dantes Rameau announced Tuesday that AMP was not among the four winners of the Accelerator Award, the top prize offered to music educators by Miami-based philanthropy, the Lewis Prize For Music.

Instead, the Atlanta group will win a $50,000 Infusion Award, along with another finalist, the Academy of Music Production Education and Development, in Louisville, Kentucky. A $25,000 Catalyst Award went to We Are Culture Creators in Detroit, Michigan.

The prizes are part of a new program funded by Progressive Insurance heir Daniel R. Lewis, intended to encourage new ways to develop young people through music. If Rameau was disappointed, he didn’t let on.

“Just to be a finalist out of 200 applicants is a big deal,” he said. “We made the final 17. I would say I’m thankful — grateful for the funds, and thankful for their support.”

The Lewis Prize was created in 2018. It distributes more than $2 million annually to music education programs and youth development programs around the country.

Lewis, of Miami, is a son of Progressive Insurance co-founder Joseph M. Lewis and brother of the company’s former chairman and CEO, the late Peter B. Lewis.

The Atlanta organization is among the second group of recipients of Lewis prizes. Rameau said the prize committee will allow AMP to reapply for the main prize at some point in the future, and added that the committee will eventually offer feedback on Atlanta’s application. “As a nonprofit, we apply for a lot of grants, and it’s very rare that we get feedback.”

Rameau said AMP hopes to use the Infusion prize to expand its mission to include leadership, entrepreneurship and job skill training, and to provide help with college prep, including preparation for SAT testing.

Students who are part of the Atlanta Music Project rehearsed as they waited for Atlanta hip-hop artist T.I., who they accompanied during a 2018 Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Students who are part of the Atlanta Music Project rehearsed as they waited for Atlanta hip-hop artist T.I., who they accompanied during a 2018 Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

“Because AMP spends a lot of time with our students, and there’s a level of trust with their families and communities, these are areas where we know that we can (have an impact),” he said.

This year’s winners of the $500,000 Accelerator Awards are Beyond the Bars, a music and career skills program in Philadelphia; Hyde Square Task Force, a group that strengthens the Latin Quarter community in Boston through Afro-Latin dance, music, theater and civic engagement; Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, which teaches discipline through training in professional-level theater and music; and St. Louis Story Stitchers, a group of professional artists and minority youth working together to reduce gun violence through art, writing and performance.

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