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Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack and his wife Lisa have announced they will donate $500,000 to the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation's "b instrumental" program.

The couple also donated 100 band and orchestra instruments, which were presented at a recent media event at North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The “Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater Challenge” will match donations from the community and officially launches a $3 million fundraising campaign for the “b instrumental” program. Started two years ago, the program provides musical instruments free of charge to middle school students to use throughout high school, along with added instruction and other enrichment activities.

A successful campaign raising $3 million will allow the foundation to purchase 4,000 to 5,000 instruments over 12 years, as well as cover refurbishing and repairs. The program will allow participation by students for whom purchasing or renting an instrument is not an option.

Chuck Surack, who is also an Honorary Chair of the campaign, remarked, “As a musician who got his start in FWCS music programs, I’ve experienced how important involvement in music education is to creating fully rounded and successful individuals. What I learned as a music student has sustained me throughout my life. Both in my business career and my personal life, music has been incredibly important. That’s why my wife Lisa and I are committed to this campaign to significantly increase the number of students involved in music at Fort Wayne Community Schools.”

Surack also talked about the fact that his entire music education had come from Fort Wayne Community Schools, not having taken even a single private lesson. Today, he performs as many as 60 gigs a year with his Prime Time trio and the Sweetwater house band, the Sweetwater All-Stars.

He listed some of the many benefits of learning to play an instrument: how it promotes craftsmanship and creativity, teaches children about teamwork, builds confidence and self-esteem, relieves stress, and helps with memorization and math skills. He said that many studies have shown that music students have higher grades and test scores, including SAT scores, better attendance, lower incidence of negative behavior, such as drug use, and have a higher rate of graduation, both in high school and college. He concluded that he personally knows of many of his own music classmates who have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and successful business men and women.

FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said the district has committed $1.5 million, in addition to the $3 million campaign, to the “b instrumental” program. “We are extremely thankful for the generosity of Chuck and Lisa Surack, as well as other individuals, businesses and foundations who support this initiative. Research shows that studying music also helps youths excel in their educational careers and in the workplace, as they work together better in groups, follow instructions, and persevere through setbacks.”

For more information, see http://www.fwcsfoundation.org/.

Photo: Sweetwater founder and President Chuck Surack presents a $500,000 Challenge Pledge to Fort Wayne Community Schools. Front row, left to right: Tom Borne, President, Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation Board, Steve Brody, board member, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson, Dr. Pam Kelly, board member, Chuck Surack, and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. Behind are students from North Side High School and Lakeside Middle School holding the instruments donated by the Suracks.



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