Ruby Grace Tilghman
North Bay Haven HS, FL
Attending Univ. of Alabama
Founder Many Mini Musicians
I’ve made a positive impact in my community by founding a program called Many Mini Musicians that has now been recognized as a 501c3 non-profit by the State of Florida. Through this program, my aim is to fund Fine Arts in public schools and create opportunities for students to experience the Arts. In 2017, I developed a plan to play and sing at local events and host fundraising
concerts with all the proceeds going towards grants to be awarded at the end of the school year. I designed a website www.manyminimusicians.com and partnered with a local non-profit organization to help with the grant application process.
In 2018, I wanted to do more with Many Mini Musicians, so I began hosting fundraising concerts that featured young artists and benefitted local Fine Arts programs. In the last 4years, I have been able to raise over $30,000 to support Fine Arts through Many Mini Musicians, and funded 15 classroom grants. Some of the many programs funded through my grant program were Counting Out Loud and Books with a Bang. Together these programs have impacted over 5000 students in my school district. While the grants funded through my program are a very important part of Many Mini Musicians, my program also provides instruments to local school music programs, hosts concerts to give young performers an opportunity to shine on stage, provides instruments and sheet music to students in foster care and assists with funding a local public library’s music room. This year, we are planning on funding a week of music education provided by Many Mini Musicians for low-income students at an After School Assistance program in Panama City, Panama City Beach, Gainesville, and Orlando, Florida. Many Mini Musicians will provide music teachers and classroom sets of instruments for the program for a week in the summer!
One of the biggest fundraising opportunities we have each year is our annual fundraising concert, Hello Summer which raises money for Many Mini Musicians and gives young musicians an opportunity to perform and share their gift with their community. Each June, I plan an outdoor community concert event that benefits Many Mini Musicians, but this event is close to my heart for different reasons. As a musician, I understand firsthand just how difficult it can be to find opportunities to perform and share your talent. Most of the young artists that work with Many Mini Musicians may work for months on a song and only get one or two opportunities to perform it. Hello Summer gives them one more chance to use that hard work and perform in their community.
In 2021, I wrote a grant for the St. Joe Community Foundation to fund a concert series hosted by Many Mini Musicians, and we received $10,000 to continue our mission. These funds allowed us to hold the Hello Spring concert in March in Walton County Florida! I am looking forward to continuing to host these community events in the future and making the Hello Spring an annual event. Furthermore, my program has partnered with Amazon as an Amazon Smile recipient, has become a partner with Facebook Social Good and has now been recognized by Disney’s Family Volunteer Rewards Program in conjunction with the Points of Light Service Award. Our annual “Hello Summer” Concert which promotes both creativity and community was a featured project as part of Disney’s initiative to promote family involvement in communities. As a result of the success of “Hello Summer” Disney’s program awarded 10 Disney park passes for Many Mini Musicians to use to help continue to promote creativity and community through our programs.
In 2020, I was invited to speak with the Office of Policy and Budget-Education Unit at the state Capitol to advocate for increased Fine Arts funding in public schools and promote Many Mini Musicians’ initiative to create opportunities for students to experience the Arts. In addition to the mission of Many Mini Musicians and its everyday operation, opportunities have arisen to help our community recover from the severe impacts of Hurricane Michael and the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Mini Musicians was able to reallocate grant money to assist in replacing instruments damaged as a result of the hurricane. Due to closures as a result of Covid-19 many young musicians missed out on opportunities to perform in their communities so Many Mini Musicians launched a social media campaign called Share Your Music. This campaign encourages young musicians to share videos of themselves singing or playing a song so that they are able to continue doing what they love and share it with their communities. This campaign was featured on local television news outlets and shared internationally via social media.
Founding and running Many Mini Musicians has taught me so much about myself and my community. In the last 4years that I have been fundraising for Fine Arts programs, I have found an undeniable passion for nonprofit work and connecting with others through music. This work has given me meaningful skills like public speaking, event planning, grant writing, and financial management that I can take with me to my career and professional life. Most importantly though, I have learned that community service and involvement can spark positive change in everyone involved. Not only have our events fostered a deep sense of community in my area, but Many Mini Musicians has given me a larger platform to share the message of the importance of Fine Arts education for our students and the need for change in our education system. When we are more aware of the issues that face us, we are better equipped to address them, and in this case, I hope that I am able to be the spark for change in my community or even state!