Our Mission

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The mission of Jazz Empowers is to transform the lives of youth in underserved schools through jazz education.

We fulfill this mission by partnering with underserved schools across the country to start and develop jazz programs. We are driven by our belief that every child in America has the right to a high quality music education. We teach jazz because it is rooted in improvisation which maximizes students’ creativity and self expression. We believe jazz has the power to transform students’ lives intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Because jazz is a language we teach the next generation of jazz musicians to listen, express, and create.

The Vision Of Jazz Empowers Is . .

That one day all students in America will have the opportunity to learn, love and play jazz.


Our Core Values

Dynamic Musicianship 

We work to develop well-rounded musicians who can read music, play by ear, understand music theory, improvise, and thrive as musicians.

Student Empowerment

We empower each student in our program through learning jazz and improvisation.


We make it a priority to eliminate economic barriers that prevent students from participating in our jazz programs.

High-Quality Instruction 

We recruit, hire and train talented music educATORS to teach the students in our programs.

School Partnership

We work to customize our programs to meet the needs of each individual school.


The Problem

In America, low-income students do not have the same access to a quality music education as their more economically advantaged peers. In Metro Nashville Public Schools, a district where 78% of the students receive free or reduced lunch, only 16% of high school seniors have taken one or more years of music classes. This is happening despite significant evidence that music participation increases students' college entrance exam scores by 16%, GPAs by 15%, and graduation rates by 51%.   There is also an underrepresentation of low income schools in the jazz education landscape. 58% of all public schools in the United States are designated as low income schools. However, at the 2016 and 2017 Essentially Ellington festivals, the most prestigious high school jazz band competition in the country, only 23% of finalist were from low income schools.  

Low Income School Participation at Top Band Competitions

*Numbers based off 2017 Essentially Ellington Festival, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and Grand Nationals Marching Band Competition

Our Solution

All of the work that we do aims to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in music education. We use a three pronged approach to address the three major need areas we have identified.