Key to Change establishes new community partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)

(Picture left to right: Dr. Tami Lee Hughes, Timothy Macek, Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe and Patrice Rushen)

Key to Change will begin a  new community partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), where current students enrolled in the string studio will have an opportunity to coach with college professors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities through its annual Solo String Festival, engage in masterclasses and clinics with respected R&B legend, jazz pianist and classical composer Patrice Rushen and participate in UNCF’s Portfiolio Project, which is its signature college preparatory program for students interested in attending Black Colleges and Universities. 

The Solo String Festival, held at Highline High School on April 8th and 9th allows students from across South King County an opportunity to perform and compete for college scholarships and other prizes. Students will also have the opportunity to perform in masterclasses and receive feedback on their performances by professors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These professors include Dr. Tami Lee Hughes, violin professor at Spelman College, Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe, strings professor at Jackson State University and Timothy Macek, violin/viola professor at Howard University. Sandy Yamamoto, a violin professor at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin will also teach a masterclass. Students will have an opportunity to learn more about the professors’ respective institutions, gather admission information and express their desired interest in the school they are interested in attending. 

Later in the month, students will coach with R&B legend Patrice Rushen, who has written several pieces for students, which will be performed at the annual Spring Salon Fundraiser in May. Patrice will work over a three day period providing feedback on the students’ performances and teaching them various techniques to ensure they are prepared for their performance. 

All of these activities will enable current students, who take violin and viola lessons at Key to Change, the opportunity to participate during the duration of their tenure in the string studio. 

The Portfolio Project, sponsored by UNCF, is a program that increases the number of minority and low-income students in 11th and 12th grade “with the tools, access and exposure to reach their dreams and aspirations of attending college”. Key to Change students who enroll in this program attend weekly sessions that include access to college admissions professionals, essay writing workshops, financial aid/financial literacy workshops, guest speakers, and mentorship from industry professionals. Students who apply for their scholarship program may qualify for aid ranging from $500-$3,000.

Dr. Quinton Morris, Key to Change’s executive director and founder, sees tremendous value in partnering with UNCF. Morris attended Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black university in New Orleans. It was during his time at Xavier that he knew he wanted to become a professional musician. “I had a violin instructor at Xavier, who was an incredible mentor to me and it was through studying with her that I knew I wanted to become a professional musician. This partnership with UNCF opens a higher level of engagement for our students and for them to see that the organization’s legacy is behind them all the way”. 

For more information about UNCF’s Portfolio Project, please visit their website here.


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