Legendary guitar maker Fender is making a move into the non-profit space.
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) announced on Wednesday (Sept. 18) the launch of the Fender Play Foundation, a new charity designed to provide resources and music education opportunities to young people. As part of those efforts, the foundation has named Avril Lavigne, Chris Stapleton, Brendon Urie, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, Ashley McBryde and Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt as its inaugural artist ambassadors for 2019-2020, with more to be announced at a later date.
Over the next three years, the Fender Play Foundation plans to raise $3 million to educational institutions and organizations via equipment donations, personalized instruction and artist experiences, with FMIC’s initial $1 million donation to be used to expand further fundraising efforts. Initial support will be provided to music education programs in Los Angeles, Nashville and Scottsdale, Arizona, where Fender has offices, with plans to expand to more cities next year. Educational institutions and organizations will also have the opportunity to apply for grants.
“Leo Fender believed that all artists are angels and his job was to give them wings to fly,” said Fender CEO Andy Mooney in a statement. “We view the Fender Play Foundation as an important vehicle to equip, educate and inspire the next generation of artists. Every child deserves access to music education opportunities and tools that give them ‘wings to fly.’ As an avid player, I can attest to the many benefits that come with playing an instrument and how the power of music can enrich your life.”
Artist ambassadors will help inspire young people via foundation initiatives including surprise instrument drops and meet and greets, donating signed gear and memorabilia for auction, appearing at galas and helping guide the foundation’s overall direction. In exchange, Fender will support artist ambassador charities that align with the foundation’s mission as well as charities “near and dear” to artists, including the Boys & Girls Club-affiliated non-profit Notes for Notes.
“Fender has been so supportive of The Avril Lavigne Foundation since its inception, so I was honored when they asked me to be part of the launch of their own charitable efforts,” said Lavigne. “Providing instruments to schools, camps and others who don’t have access to music on a daily basis is both necessary and inspiring, and I’m looking forward to working alongside my fellow Artist Advisors to deliver what is sure to be a lifetime of exciting memories!”
“I’m excited to team up with the Fender Play Foundation to support the next generation of shredders,” added Urie. “Growing up in Vegas my music mentors and education were such a huge influence on my life, I hope through partnering with Fender, that I can help do the same for young musicians!”
“Music has always been necessary outlet of self-expression for me especially when I was growing up,” said Wentz.
The foundation has already been busy, kicking off its first month by donating guitars, ukuleles and basses to Adopt the Arts, Notes for Notes, Musack, Young Musicians Foundation and other organizations. Donated instruments will be accompanied by a subscription to Fender Play, a learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele.
Additionally, this month Fender Play Foundation is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club’s Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse in Los Angeles to build and launch an interactive space equipped with Squier guitars and basses, Rumble and Champion amplifiers, accessories and Fender Play e-learning stations for the club’s 200-plus youth members to learn guitar, ukulele and bass. The partnership will include 44 weeks of instruction subsidized by the foundation, with two other Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club locations also to be served in 2019-2020.
Also in September, Fender Play Foundation will help facilitate the donation of 2,000 California Coast Series ukuleles and 750 Classic Design and FA Series acoustic guitars, soft cases, and Fender Play subscriptions to public and charter schools in Hawaii in support of its long-time investor partner Servco’s Centennial Service Campaign. The instruments will be distributed to 55 schools throughout the Hawaiian Islands representing over 8,550 students.
Even prior to launch, the Fender Play Foundation was quietly working to support causes with other Fender artists, including Tom Morello and A-list musical collective 1500 or Nothin’s 1500 Sound Academy, a production training program designed to serve as a bridge between school and a career in the music industry.