How Programs Are Funded

One of the first things people wonder about GITC is how on earth we can offer these programs at no charge to teachers. Who is making this possible? GITC is a model of community participation and volunteerism and is a vibrant collaboration between socially responsible profit businesses and the non-profit sector.

The truth is that it takes every one of us to get Guitars in the Classroom! This work is a grass roots collective community effort that is succeeding because of the work of everyday folks who know how profoundly music matters. Teachers, moms and dads, grandparents, community members, artists, a some very special companies and small foundations keep the music humming along.

If you visit our Sponsors and Friends pages, you will see the magnitude of people’s dedication to bringing music to life in education and can find out more about getting involved.


Teachers and educational staff members give to GITC every day of the year. They donate their time, faith, energy and dedication to learning with us and providing musical learning even though they receive no special compensation for doing so. These gifts from educators are precious indeed. With the unending responsibilities that these folks manage each day and take home with them each night, the large contribution of hours involved in learning to make and lead music for the benefit of children are “priceless.” And because they keep sharing music year after year, theirs is a gift that never ends.

Companies that make musical products such as guitars, straps, capos, strings, picks, musical gear, sheet music, recordings, music stands, online lessons, and all manner of music accessories give us the teaching tools for making music. Thanks to them, GITC can pass these on to teachers at no cost. Other forward-thinking companies that believe in the power of music contribute to this movement to strengthen our children’s knowledge and creativity and to improve our schools. They support GITC to preserve our culture and renew the health of our planet by teaching children about eco-sustainability through song-based activities and lessons. Companies who value their role in healing the planet can achieve this by supporting GITC through their community giving programs, and also by including our Green Songbook and CD or online guitar lesson memberships on in their internal or community outreach, as well as by partnering with Guitars in the Classroom through 1% for the Planet.  If you are aware of or affiliated with a company that might take an interest in participating in our work, we hope you will get in touch. Please write if we can be of assistance in this process.

GITC writes many grants. Each year, we receive small to moderate grants from innovative foundations seeking ways to improve student and teacher outcomes in education and to improve quality of life for children in need.  Some of these foundations such as The Harry Chapin Foundation empower work that makes a significant difference in quality of life and education for at risk students. Far more than half the schools we serve are designated Title I (low income).

Other foundations such as The NAMM Foundation fund work that  provides new musical opportunities to students who might not otherwise have access to musical learning and programs that support the process of standards-based music education. The NAMM Foundation in particular supports our work with the AMIGO program model to boost literacy and close the achievement gap for low performing students and students who are coming to English as a second language. We are also excited to support the strengthening of music education programs, working whenever possible with credentialed music teachers to bring our work in classroom music integration into their schools.

GITC aids classroom teachers in boosting language learning and literacy because song-based lessons boost language skills almost on contact by embedding new words and phrases in memorable songs that students sing again and again. Even shy students take pleasure in singing with their classmates and composing new lyrics for learning as a part of their daily lessons. In the words of Mary Poppins, singing to learn is that “spoonful of sugar” that “helps the medicine go down.”

Some foundations help improve their local schools. Sometimes in a region, several foundations participate together in doing some heavy lifting with our organization. The San Francisco Bay Area is a prime example of this. Since 2009, the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation has funded Guitars in the Classroom’s work in Petaluma, Oakland and Oakley, California.  In addition in 2009-2010, the California Arts Council funded GITC to spread integrated music making to classrooms in five underserved northern California communities through a special program designed to reach populations who do not often experience live musical performances. In 2010, the Sobrato Family Foundation joined the movement, bringing our work to specific schools in San Jose and Redwood City as part of a pilot program to boost early literacy for kindergarteners and first graders acquiring English as a second language. And all along, The NAMM Foundation has been in our corner, strengthening our outreach and assisting behind the scenes. Because of these four foundations, GITC has successfully trained hundreds of teachers and is reaching tens of thousands of California school children and will continue to do so as long as the teachers keep music alive in their classrooms.

Artists also make a huge contribution, bringing their talent, fan bases and their artistic guidance to this work. They bring GITC crucial support through benefit concerts, social media advocacy and by making free school visits and playing assemblies for the students when they are on tour.

Laurence Juber and Muriel Anderson, both world-renowned fingerstyle guitar virtuosos whose collaborations and ensemble work have been thrilling audiences around the world for decades, were the first two artists to help us establish GITC. To this day, Laurence and Muriel both offer guidance and provide resources for program support to Guitars in the Classroom. Rock and acoustic guitarist Larry Mitchell joined the GITC tribe in 2008, bringing his soulful style and social awareness to this work. In 2009, we were joined by acoustic melodic pianist George Winston (yes he also plays guitar!), who has helped fund our programs in the Midwest and Gulf Coast region through amazing benefit concerts. Since 2010, GITC has been blessed by participation from Makana, innovative Hawaiian guitar virtuoso, impassioned singer and spectacular slack rocker whose song “Many Not the Few” went viral, inspiring participants and fans of the Occupy Wall Street movement. GITC is also fortunate to count in our tribe acoustic composer, singer and polyrhythmic genius Vicki Genfan, whose unique “slap tapping” guitar style and unstoppable energy won her Guitar Player’s 2008 Guitar Superstar award. Vicki performs intimate house concerts and guitar workshops for our community when she is out on tour in her awesome stage-ready rolling recording studio called the Vicki Van, designed by Tay Hoyle.

In 2011, world traveler and story teller par excellence Randall Williams officially joined the GITC tribe as an artist after being an adviser in the wings for years. His work Einstein’s Dreams accompanies the book of the same title and brings awareness and emotion to our understanding of the time-space continuum and its ever-present effect on our relationships.

This year we are excited to work with Tamaray, a rising star in the country scene whose special dedication to education includes obtaining her own degree in Education. Tamaray is visiting schools in the southeastern United States to inspire children to work hard in school and follow their dreams.

GITC is especially grateful to Jack Johnson and his Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation for their support of GITC to provide musical opportunities in Hawaiian schools, especially with the inclusion of songs for the planet. Jack and Kim Johnson were instrumentally involved in the creation of The Green Songbook and you can read Jack’s blessing of our work in the front of the book and sing his songs there, too.

Interested in learning more or becoming a GITC Artist Advocate? Please check out the Meet the Artists page.

Please note that GITC does not give away guitars. We are here to help teachers and other school staff and volunteers learn to play and to help cultivate lifelong musicality and musical leadership. We gladly place guitars on loan to teachers in the program for use in their classrooms. A teacher can borrow a guitar on which to learn and can return it to us when he or she feels ready to buy an instrument of his or her own. That guitar will get new strings, other TLC as needed, and will go to another teacher to borrow. We call this the GITC Guitar Recycling Program (GRC).

 GITC is happy to help teachers connect with grant programs that might help them acquire guitars for students to use in GITC classrooms such as and the Fender Music Foundation at and their own local community foundations. We also often refer music educators looking for training to start a student guitar education program as part of their school’s music education offerings to the Teaching Guitar Workshops, which are offered to MENC/NAfME members at In these programs, certificated music educators can train to teach guitar and will be given a guitar to keep as part of the specialized training.