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Fender Play Foundation Celebrates LAUSD Graduates with Star-Studded Ceremony and Welcomes Inaugural Board of Director

Christian Wissmuller • Upfront • May 21, 2021

Fender Play  Foundation is proud to welcome inaugural members to its leadership board alongside CEO Andy Mooney and CFO Jim Broenen. Iz Avila, Winston Cox, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lewis, David Robinson, and Rick Roskin, will be supporting Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s (FMIC) 501(c)(3) public charitable organization, in its mission to expand access to music education, put instruments into the hands of students and empower self-expression. The centerpiece of the Fender Play Foundation™ is its middle school music program in partnership with Los Angeles Unified, the 2nd largest school district in the U.S, which is well on its way to reach its goal of 10,000 by the end of 2021. The new members join as the Fender Play Foundation™ celebrates Los Angeles Unified’s music program’s first full year.

In Summer 2020, the Fender Play Foundation™ launched in partnership with Los Angeles Unified to equip the next generation of artists with a unique, teacher-led model that provides synchronous and asynchronous learning. The program aims to provide educational opportunities for students to keep them playing for life by equipping them with Fender® acoustic and electric guitars, basses and ukuleles delivered to their doorstep. Along with a personalized curriculum developed by Los Angeles Unified and Fender Play®’s team, which includes continuous access to its online learning app, this program is breaking new ground as a sustainable, scalable and innovative model for music education. “In the midst of a global pandemic, we knew children would need, more than ever, a way to connect with one another,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Beutner said. “We reached out to Fender and they answered the call to serve.”

Access to music education has many benefits, including enhanced cognitive function, improved creativity and confidence through expression, better mental health and greater emotional and social stability. “I like being able to learn a new instrument and that we all have this one thing in common,” said Los Angeles Unified students. “I like that I am able to play without anyone judging me and that makes me feel comfortable with everyone else.”

Since launching the program in June 2020, the Fender Play Foundation™ has placed instruments and Fender Play subscriptions in the hands of over 5,000 students. Of these, 77% of students were first-time players, and cumulatively, 87% plan to continue playing their instruments. To date, the program has donated over $1 million in resources and equipment, with a goal of giving more than 35,000 students the opportunity to learn a new instrument by the end of 2023 and 1 million students nationwide by 2030.

Today, the Fender Play Foundation™ will hold its commencement event to mark the first full school year. The annual celebration is hosted by Fender® to acknowledge and commemorate the hard work and progress of students learning an instrument through the Fender® and Los Angeles Unified Middle School Music Program. It marks the end of a full year of students playing acoustic and electric guitars, basses and ukuleles with the help of dedicated Los Angeles Unified music teachers and support from the Fender Play® app, a digital learning platform. The virtual event features student performances and speeches from special guests and world-renowned artists to encourage them to keep playing.

This year, the audience will be welcomed by bassist and actor Jason Momoa, best known for his performance in Aquaman. Opening remarks will be led by Paul Sidoti, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist followed by a speech from five-time Grammy-winning artist and new board member Terry Lewis. American recording artist, composer, and Grammy-nominated musician Divinity Roxx will also be in attendance along with eight-time Grammy award-winning American singer-songwriter FINNEAS, who will both present remarks. The event will also feature opening remarks by Fender Play Foundation™ co-president Ed Magee, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner and special performances by students.

“When we started the Fender Play Foundation™ in 2019 our goal was to put instruments into the hands of as many students as possible who might not otherwise have access to musical education and the power of that experience,” said Evan Jones, Fender CMO and Fender Play Foundation™ Co-President.

“With the support and guidance of our new board members, we feel that goal has never been more within our reach as we set our sights on serving over 10,000 students by the end of this year,” added Ed Magee, Fender EVP of Operations and Fender Play Foundation™ Co-President.

Newly Appointed Fender Play Foundation Board of Directors include:

  • Iz Avila – Iz Avila is a 5x Grammy Award-winner, musician, percussionist, bassist, turntable master, songwriter and producer who’s worked with the likes of Usher, Janet Jackson and Chaka Khan, among others. IZ is a champion of music education through his leadership with the Grammy in the Schools Program, Turnaround Arts and the 1500 Sound Academy.

 

  • Jim Broenen – Jim Broenen oversees and directs all of the organization’s financial matters, in addition to managing the IT department. After over a decade with Fender, he’s fostered acquisitions, significantly reduced debt by $200 million and seamlessly streamlined operations. Prior to Fender, Jim held executive roles with Arthur Anderson & Co, J.I. Case/CNH and Rockwell Automation.

 

  • Winston Cox – Winston Cox is the Implementation Director for Turnaround Arts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After teaching in public schools, Winston became an arts champion as a Principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels in Boston and in Washington, DC.

 

  • Charmaine Jefferson – Charmaine Jefferson operates Kélan Resources, is a volunteer Commissioner for the City of LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs; Trustee of the California Institute of the Arts; Advisory Committee for the LA County Art Commission Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative; Advisory Board member of the LA Chamber Orchestra and President of The Museum Group. Charmaine spent 9 years as a professional concert dancer, holds a BA from UCLA; MA from NYU and JD from Georgetown University.

 

  • Terry Lewis – Part of one of the most successful production teams, Terry Lewis, alongside Jimmy Jam, has penned hits for superstars including: Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Sting. The 5x Grammy-winning duo has been recognized as ASCAP Songwriters of the Year and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP.

 

  • Andy Mooney – A “guitar geek with big company experience,” Andy Mooney is a life-long guitarist focused on the brand’s digital transformation, serving new players and catalyzing exponential growth in the MI space. Before joining Fender in 2015, he spent 20 years with Nike in key C-suite roles and 11 years with Disney, becoming the Chairman of Disney Consumer Products in 2000.

 

  • David Robinson – David Robinson is a NBA Hall of Fame inductee, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Co-Founder of Admiral Capital Group. David has forged groundbreaking pathways in education by fundraising tens of millions of dollars for The Carver Academy and IDEA Public Schools, a network that has grown to reach 100 schools and 50,000 students.

 

  • Rick Roskin – Rick Roskin is the Co-Head of Contemporary Music at Creative Arts Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles. As an industry leader, Rick develops innovative partnerships, oversees more than 100 agents and has booked more than 35,000 shows in North America. Over the years, his client roster has included Eric Clapton, Santana, Kelly Clarkson and Cheap Trick.

 

Please contact fenderplayfoundation@fender.com for any inquiries or questions.  Donations can be made here. Spring 2021 Semester images and videos here. Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender and @FenderPlay.

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