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Baltimore Philanthropists Donate $1 Million To BSO’s OrchKids Program

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A million dollars for music. It’s a generous gift to one of the city’s fastest-growing music youth programs.

As Gigi Barnett reports, the donation is just one of several top honors given to OrchKids in a matter of months.

From the beat of a bucket band to the sounds of the symphony, this is the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program.

Back in November, the White House honored the after-school music program with the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Award.

This week, it was the city’s turn.

“When you expose young people, you open their minds, whether it’s reading a book or performing arts. You give them a key to all that’s possible in the world,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

In five years, OrchKids has grown from 30 students to more than 700.

It’s the brainchild of BSO Maestra Marin Alsop, who believes music gives kids the ability to perform in every area of their lives.

“Seeing the poise that they have when they speak to people, when they come out to play an instrument in front of the audience,” Alsop said. “The greatest joy is watching the older kids mentor the younger kids and give back. That’s the goal.”

And now, OrchKids will have more money to reach that goal.

Philanthropists Robert Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker are giving $1 million to OrchKids.

“To think Marin Alsop had this vision and the vision has outshined even our wildest dreams of what was possible,” the mayor said.

And now with an extra $1 million in funding, organizers say the next step is to grow the program even more, from 750 to 1,600; the more kids the better.

A study released last year found that 84 percent of OrchKids students who were in the program for three years or more earned high marks on the math portion of state assessment tests.

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