Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts


60 Locust Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
County: Union


Ms. Karen Deschere

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

To support the work of the El Sistema New Jersey Alliance in connecting and strengthening El Sistema-inspired programs statewide.

Organization Background

The El Sistema New Jersey Alliance was formed in 2014 through the efforts of five programs inspired by the vision of El Sistema, an idea born in Venezuela forty years ago on the premise that ensemble music learning for children can provide intensive social and emotional growth. The founding programs are CHAMPS in Newark, the Paterson Music Project, Sister Cities Girlchoirs in Camden, Sonic Explorations in Orange, and the Union City Music Project. In 2015, Trenton Music Makers joined, and in 2016, Keys 2 Success, in the Newark Ironbound section, joined as the seventh program.

Five programs are affiliated with "parent" organizations. The parent organization of Paterson Music Project is the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts; for CHAMPS is the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Sonic Explorations is the Orange public school district; Music Makers Trenton are the Trenton Community Music School and Trenton Public Schools; and the parent community of Keys 2 Success is the Ironbound Community Corporation. The Union City Music Project, Sister Cities Girlchoir are independent organizations.

The mission is to create, support, and advocate for a strong network of statewide El Sistema-inspired programs which endeavor to use music as a vehicle for social change and widen life opportunities for New Jersey's neediest children. Our vision is that New Jersey will develop a flourishing network of El Sistema-inspired programs to be agents of social change within their communities.

Thanks to the G.R. Dodge Foundation's support, the Alliance got off to a terrific start with three major activities: a joint concert in the lobby of NJPAC, community events surrounding Martin Luther King Day, and a 3-day camp for El Sistema children, teachers and parents from around New Jersey.

The work of the Alliance is done by personnel affiliated with the programs, with assistance from consultant/writer Tricia Tunstall. Shanna Lin, Associate Director of PMP, is provided with a small stipend to coordinate project logistics. Each program contributes a share of the time and energy of its staff members.

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