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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Giving back: Philanthropists loan instruments to kids

November 21, 2013

Instructor Meaghan Roberts teaches her be instrumental music class at the Friendly Center.

Instructor Meaghan Roberts teaches her be instrumental music class at the Friendly Center.

What do a lawyer, a sales manager, and a business development associate have in common?

In Toledo the answer is a passion to fill a void left after northwest Ohio public schools wielded budget-cutting knives and eliminated music programs.

Rather than wag their heads and lament the loss of efforts to develop well-rounded students, professionals John Mackewich, Jeff Green, and Mike Grady organized the BeInstrumental Foundation in the fall of 2009.

“We formed the group to give back to the community and to fill the void as a result of the constant cuts in arts and music. All of us have music backgrounds,” Mr. Mackewich, president of BeInstrumental, said.

Toledo Magazine: BeInstrumental

“Our mission is to ensure that all kids in northwest Ohio have musical education,” he said.

Mr. Mackewich is an attorney and plays bass. Mr. Green, vice president of the foundation, is a sales manager and plays trombone, and Mr. Grady is a business development associate who also plays trombone.

The foundation has helped about 275 students since its inception. The group takes a three-pronged approach to meeting that goal: It provides music classes for students in schools that do not offer music; lends instruments to music students, and lines up professional musicians to conduct classes.

“We have an instrument bank for any kid who needs an instrument and we will give it free to use in the school year. Likewise, if a school calls and asks for five violins, we give them,” Mr. Mackewich said. Its bank includes 60 instruments, including violins, trumpets, saxophones, cellos, guitars, and clarinets.

There is no cost for students. They are asked to sign an agreement stating that an instrument is on loan to them as long as they are in a music program, and if they drop out, that they will return it.

BeInstrumental’s six-member board buys instruments or collects them from others who no longer use them. Anyone who has an instrument sitting around collecting dust can give it to the foundation. Instruments that need it are repaired, then sent to a school.

“So far we have received every instrument back that we have loaned out. A few get broken now and then, but that comes with the trade,” he added.

In its first year, BeInstrumental started loaning instruments. The second year the focus was on after-school programs. This year, Mr. Mackewich said the group wants to expand music programs in after-schools and community centers.

Fund-raising efforts and donations support BeInstrumental.

“All we do is free to community centers, and we raise funds to do that,” he added. “The biggest benefit to us is letting them know that if there is a parent whose kid wants to take up music, they can contact us and we can help them with that.”

Students, parents, and schools interested in obtaining an instrument from the group’s instrument bank can call 419-798-6683.

Contact Rose Russell at: or 419-724-6178.

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Toledo Community Foundation’s Stranahan Supporting Organization Awards Grant to BeInstrumental

November 14, 2013

The Board of Trustees of the Stranahan Supporting Organization of the Toledo Community Foundation has approved a grant to the BeInstrumental Foundation in the amount of $3,900.  These funds will be used for support of music programs in the Toledo area.

The Stranahan Supporting Organization grant will be used to fund music staff and music materials that enable BeInstrumental to continue to provide free music classes to children in grades K-12.  BeInstrumental’s mission is to ensure that every child has a musical education and to provide schools with the resources needed to teach music.

Carol McElfresh, Executive Director of BeInstrumental states, “With help from the Stranahan Supporting Organization grant, BeInstrumental will reach children through hands-on music instruction who might not otherwise have exposure to music.  We appreciate the support of the Stranahan Supporting Organization and the Toledo Community Foundation. ”

Toledo Community Foundation, Inc. is a public charitable organization created by citizens of our community to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families in our area.  In existence since 1973, the Foundation has more than 620 funds with assets of approximately $172 million.  The Foundation provides philanthropic services for individuals, families, businesses and corporations to meet their charitable giving needs.  For more information on the Foundation, visit the organization’s website at or follow us on Facebook.

The BeInstrumental Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to harnessing the power of the arts by providing aspiring musician’s programs with educational opportunities, mentoring and the financial resources to pursue their music ambitions. Founded in 2009 with our headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, BeInstrumental emerged as a result of alarming cuts in funding for in-school music instruction.  BeInstrumental is accepting donations to fund future programs in order to meet the growing demand for music education in our community.  For more information or to find out how you can help, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.