Through the proceeds of the public events and performances held at Blackwood Estates from May through October, Blackwood Arts supports a variety of youth programs in Butler county that include Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the Blackwood Scholarship Award program, the RHYTHM Project, and Graeme's Kids. In our decades of service, Blackwood Arts has contributed over $885,000 to these worthy causes, which we believe positively impacts the lives of hundreds of children and youth in our region. Our dedicated volunteers and Board members receive no compensation. Our generous donors and patrons have been the lifeblood of our programs, showing the truth of the proverb that "it takes a village to raise a child."
Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia
The mission of Make-A-Wish(R) Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia is to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses; granting the wish of every eligible child by transforming lives, one wish at a time. Make-A-Wish believes that each wish can provide a rejuvenating experience that can bring much-needed relief from trauma caused by a critical illness, giving a child a better chance of surviving and thriving. Blackwood Arts is pleased and proud to be a long-term supporter of this worthy cause. Blackwood hosts a concert each year to benefit Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Each concert is intended to benefit children and their families in Butler County and surrounding areas. Since 1991, Blackwood has hosted 34 concerts to date, raising more than $478,000 and serving more than 120 children throughout the Butler County area. In the words of the Organization, "When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, anxiety with excitement, and sadness with optimism."
Blackwood Scholarship Award Program
The Blackwood Scholarship Program awards scholarships to high school seniors who wish to pursue a career in musical performance and/or musical education. The program was endowed in 2000 by a generous patron and is supplemented by the proceeds of one of our annual concerts. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of musical talent, recommendations from music teachers, academic performance, a written essay and personal motivation. An annual competition is held at Heinz Hall of the Performing Arts, located in the Cultural District of downtown Pittsburgh, which is juried by members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, professional musicians and/or professors of music from local universities. Scholarship amounts range on average from $2500 to $7000 per student each year. Past recipients have attended some of the most renowned schools in the country including the Julliard School, the New England Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College, Berklee College of Music and the Eastman School of Music. Over the past 23 years, a total of $407,500 has been awarded to 119 high school seniors eager to pursue music careers in either performance or education.
(Raising the Hopes of Youth Through Harmony and Music)
The RHYTHM Project began in 2005 with an annual field trip of fourth grade students from Dassa McKinney Elementary School. The purpose of this field trip is to inspire them to enter the school's music program by attending a special children's organ concert and watching a brief silent film accompanied by an organist on the Blackwood theater pipe organ. Blackwood Arts also supplements the music education program with donations of instruments and musical training from third - and fourth - year music students at Slippery Rock University. We are proud to support the gift of music for these children who might not otherwise receive it as a result of the budget constraints in the school district.
Graeme's Kids is Blackwood's newest program created in honor of a beloved friend of Blackwood, Graeme Smith, who's love of music (especially guitar) was the inspiration for this program. Starting with two of Graeme's guitars so kindly donated to Blackwood Arts by his wife Shelly, a program was designed for young children to have an opportunity to learn to play the guitar and give them a learning experience to last a lifetime . The pilot program includes 10 students from Center Township Elementary School in Butler County who have been selected for a six-week instruction in how to care for, tune, and play 3 pieces on the guitar, taught by guitarist Caleb Novak, a graduate of Slippery Rock University. This program was made possible by the generosity of Slippery Rock University, a grant from the Bantam Jeep Foundation, individual contributors and patrons of Blackwood Arts.