GRAMMY Signature School Leverages Award For $100,000 In Additional Funding

In March 2014, the GRAMMY Foundation recognized Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif. with the National GRAMMY Signature School award. Created in 1998, the GRAMMY Signature Schools program recognizes the top U.S. public high schools that make an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year. As this year’s winner, Diamond Bar received a grant of $6,000 for their music education program. Steve Acciani, a 25-year veteran in the school district and the current director of instrumental music, used this grant to help leverage an additional $100,000 for the school. We spoke with Steve to learn more about how he made this all possible:

GRAMMY Foundation: How did you come up with the idea for your program, "Riding the GRAMMY Wave", to leverage your GRAMMY Signature Schools National Award for additional funds? 

Steve Acciani: We figured this was a once and a lifetime opportunity to showcase what we’re doing–I mean the GRAMMY’s are something special, something everybody … knows about. We wanted to see if we could use this recognition to make an even bigger impact in what we do here.


GF: Take us through each of the events or programs you hosted that centered on this award?

SA: "Play-a-Thon": Basically, we sold $5 sponsorships for each of the kids who then performed in an all-day, 12-hr long rehearsal; we ended up raising $25,000.

SA: Event Advertising: We sold advertisements in our programs for all the performances that the students did. We went out to the community, and [gave them a chance] to be associated with the GRAMMY Foundation; this helped bring in an additional $10,000.

SA: Car Raffle:  Now this one was kind of neat because one of our instructors said "hey let’s figure out a way to do a major raffle" so he went to local car dealerships and got one of them to donate a Toyota Camry in exchange for advertising. We sold 1,000 tickets for $50 each. We made about $40,000 on it (after paying the taxes) and decided on a very specific amount of tickets, so the odds are pretty good.

SA: Award presentation concert: The stage here isn’t very good– in fact we’re using a lot of the money to help upgrade our stage– so we asked Mt. San Antonio College to donate their space for the Award presentation. We brought in a bunch of our musical groups and sold tickets for a total of $5,000.

SA: Community Gala: In each program we held,we tried to reach a specific group: the Play-a-Thon was more kids helping each other out; the concert was for the parents; the car was—I think that was all of us desperate for a new car. For the gala, we wanted to get to the high-end side of the community, so we reached out to local politicians, county supervisors, and business owners. We sold $1,000 table sponsorships for the Gala, which included a sit down dinner and performance by our students. The evening brought in $30,000!


GF: So you were able to generate more than $100,000 for your school? What else will you use the funds for?

SA: Yeah, I think the final total when everything was finished ended up being $112,000, and we needed it too. We’re going to take a portion of that money and try to sponsor a major professional musician and sell tickets to that performance. If we do it right, we can generate more money with the money we brought in. Each year, we get about $2,000 from the school district for all of our music programs. Now we’ve previously fundraised for our programs, but this award helped us  double what we normally raise. We’re looking to getting a sound shell put into our stage and improve acoustics in the theater. It’s a really badly designed stage and our kids are such good performers we want to give their families the opportunity to hear how good they actually are.


GF: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SA: You guys need to know this was an incredible opportunity! This year we have 152 incoming kids for the band and almost 100 incoming kids for the orchestra because of the recognition we were able to get with the National Signature School award. Winning the national award has established a new standard for what we’re going to be and now we have kids coming in who are really excited to be involved with the arts.

In total, 12 schools nationwide were selected as GRAMMY® Signature Schools for 2014 and have been awarded cash grants totaling $58,500. For a complete list of these recipients, click here.

In the Spotlight

Daniel Davila



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