Participants in the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program perform on Alaska Native drums at Sitʼ Eeti Shaanáx̱ Glacier Valley Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Juneau Alaska Music Matters)

Participants in the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program perform on Alaska Native drums at Sitʼ Eeti Shaanáx̱ Glacier Valley Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Juneau Alaska Music Matters)

JAMM among 11 finalists for four $500,000 national Accelerator Awards

Winners of fifth annual awards for youth music programs scheduled to be announced in January.

The Juneau Alaska Music Matters program is among 11 finalists for four $500,000 awards for youth music programs nationwide, which would come close to doubling the local nonprofit’s current budget during the next five years the money is allocated, officials said Monday.

Winners of the fifth annual Accelerator Awards presented by The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropist organization founded in 2018, are scheduled to be announced Jan. 9, according to a statement by the organization. Meghan Johnson, JAMM’s executive director of the JAMM program, said in an interview the funds would allow for a significant boost in staffing and program offerings — and ensure they are financially stable in the coming years.

“This would certainly be by far the largest award we’ve ever received,” she said. “And to know that to have it go for five years and not have to reapply every year is nice too.”

JAMM was selected as a finalist from 261 applicants in 42 U.S. states and territories, according to the Lewis Prize organization.

Johnson said JAMM’s current budget — which relies largely on local and state funding, plus some national grants — is about $130,000 a year. More than 500 local students are participating this year in the program, which originated in 2010.

JAMM’s website describes itself as “inspired by El Sistema in Venezuela, which uses music as a vehicle for social change.” The tuition-free program provides in-class and after-school programs to students from kindergarten through middle school.

Among JAMM’s distinctive offerings is the Haa Ḵusteeyí: Our Way of Life program, focusing on “Lingít values through story and song.” Developed in collaboration with numerous Southeast Alaska Native organizations and tribal cultural leaders.

“We’re part of the community-wide effort to revitalize the Lingít language, but especially for us it’s to normalize its use in the schools and to show that a specialized subject like music can be taught in an Indigenous language,” Johnson said.

Another area of focus for Lewis Prize contenders is creative youth development via leadership by peers, which Johnson said is part of the El Sistema roots of JAMM.

“We want students to see themselves as artists, educators, teachers and musicians,” she said. “I mean they’re all of those things and through music they can engage in their civic engagement, there are opportunities to teach and work with others. There’s a built-in peer mentorship, and then performance and creativity.”

In a press release, the Lewis Prize for Music states JAMM was identified “as a leading organization in the field of music for positive social change.”

“The 11 Finalists for the 2024 Accelerator Awards have smart, articulate, passionate leaders that collaborate with their teams and local leaders to provide adolescents most negatively impacted by inequities with all they need to have productive, exciting and rewarding lives,” Daniel Lewis, founder of The Lewis Prize for Music, said in a prepared statement. “I am enthusiastic that these organizations focus on developing the artistic, interpersonal and leadership skills as well as the self-confidence, ambition and discipline of their young members to become creative participants in an educated local workforce and a sustainable economy.”

Among JAMM’s upcoming performances are paper violin concerts by kindergarten participants on Dec. 9 at Kax̲dig̲oowu Héen Elementary School and Dec. 15 at Sítʼ Eetí Shaanáx̱ Glacier Valley Elementary School, Johnson said.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

(Juneau E
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

The gates are locked at the Pipeline Skate Park at midday Thursday, after Juneau’s Parks and Recreation Department announced the facility will be open limited hours until further notice due to an increase in vandalism and drug paraphernalia. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
City: Pipeline Skate Park open reduced hours due to ‘sharp increase’ of vandalism, drug activity

Extra patrols by police and parks staff also planned for facility at Jackie Renninger Park.

A car drives by Mendenhall River Community School on Back Loop Road on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Woman, two children struck by vehicle while crossing road near Mendenhall River Community School

Victims in stable condition, initial investigation shows driver not at-fault, according to police.

“The Phantom of the Opera” is screened with a live musical soundtrack at the Gold Town Theater in April. Three of the musicians are scheduled to perform Sunday during two screenings of the 1928 silent film “The Wind.” (Courtesy of Gold Town Theater)
This weekend’s lineup at the Gold Town Theater really blows

Xmas Bazaar Xtravaganza nearly sold out already, but seeing “The Wind” to live music a breeze.

Scant patches of snow remain at the base of Eaglecrest Ski area on Wednesday despite snowmaking efforts that occurred during the weekend, due to warmer temperatures and rain this week. The opening date for the ski area, originally set for Dec. 2 and then delayed until Dec. 9, is now undetermined. (Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)
Eaglecrest opening delayed again, target date now TBD

Warm temperatures and rain thwart efforts to open ski area on Saturday.

Work crews continue removing hundreds of truckloads of debris from Zimovia Highway since the Nov. 20 landslide in Wrangell. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
Clearing work continues at Wrangell slide; fundraising grows to help families

Juneau, with several thousand pounds of food collected in drive, among many communities assisting.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Dec. 4, 2005. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Dec. 10

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Staff of the Ketchikan Misty Fjords Ranger District carry a 15-foot-long lodgepole pine near the Silvis Lake area to a vessel for transport to Juneau on Nov. 30. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)
Together Tree departs Ketchikan for Governor’s Residence in Juneau

Annual Holiday Open House featuring 21,350 cookies scheduled 3-6 p.m. Dec. 12.

Female caribou runs near Teshekpuk Lake on June 12, 2022. (Photo by Ashley Sabatino, Bureau of Land Management)
Alaska tribes urge protection for federal lands

80% of food comes from surrounding lands and waters for Alaska Native communities off road system.

Most Read