In effort to support educational excellence while embracing diversity, the Heinz Endowments awarded the Oakland Girls Choir $15, 000 to support the Choir’s musical outreach programs at Angels’ Place on the Northside

In addition to the initial $15,000, they will receive a second-time grant of $3, 000 from the McCreery Memorial Fund of the Buhl Foundation to support the program at Angels’ Place, as well as Hosanna House’s Child Development Center in Wilkinsburg.

The Oakland Girls Choir was established in 2005 to give girls an opportunity to experience the joy and beauty of music while singing in a supportive community of mutual respect and encouragement.

OGC choir’s musical outreach is provided to and embraced by Angels’ Place North Side, a non-profit organization providing childcare, preschool and support services for single parents.

“Students in distressed city neighborhoods often have relatively few educational opportunities beyond their immediate neighborhood of residence. The broad range of experiences our students have can develop lasting values of respect, confidence, discipline, and compassion for others that have the potential to impact the rest of their lives,” said Choir Director Kathryn Barnard, who stressed the impact musical education can have on a child’s development.

Beginning in September 2010 at Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg, Barnard started the outreach programs by teaching after-school classes to grades K – 4.

The outreach programs are able to expand to “music and movement” classes to young boys and girls at Angels’ Place through the grant awards. Barnard designed the “music and movement” classes to develop young students musically, intellectually, socially and emotionally.

The weekly classes do more than instruct, they engage the children in creative self-expression and active play, according to Angels’ Place Executive Director, Michelle Smith Tipton.

 “They improve the school readiness of our young students and help them to build a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning,” she explained.  

Barnard instructs musical lessons through a wide variety of active games, musical instruments, entertaining songs and use of rhythms. Classes are offered range in age groups from infant, young toddler, older toddler and preschool.

 Board member Shannon Sims explained, Barnard is “a brilliant teacher and knows how to communicate with [the children].”

 The musical classes have been nothing short of successful and have perpetuated many parents to enroll their girls in the OGC.

With opportunities for creative self-expression and active play, children are learning and acquiring skills through music, while building a foundation for lifelong learning.

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