By Emily Kennedy with additional reporting by Katie Andreychuck.

Like food, music brings people together. No matter your age, nationality, or religion–music is a universal language. It speaks to our senses and expresses our shared humanity. Whether you play an instrument, or just enjoy the show, music inspires, connects, energizes, nourishes, and even heals. But, like many of the arts, music requires public investment to keep it healthy.

Here, we take a look at some of the major charities in North America making sure music, and all its social benefits, never go out of tune.

The GRAMMY Foundation

When they’re not busy making sure music’s biggest night goes off without a hitch, the GRAMMY Foundation is hard at work promoting music education, preservation, and even music therapy.

“Music is so powerful for the improvement of society. Music starts with each one of us individually and then multiplies,” said Rusty Rueff, Board Chair of the GRAMMY Foundation.

DamnMag caught up with Rusty on the red carpet of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Play It Forward event in L.A. in February, a night dedicated to the importance of music history and our musical past. But the Foundation also raises awareness (and money) towards programs looking forwards, such as GRAMMY In The Schools, which offers students scholarships and the chance to engage with working professionals.

“Because music oftentimes is not unlike athletics,” Scott Goldman, Vice President of the GRAMMY Foundation, told DamnMag. “A small percentage of kids will end up on stage, but so many kids can feed the passion for music and never get on stage,” he said. “They can be the tour manager, the sound guy, the audio engineer, the publicist, the journalist.”

The Foundation also offers research grants to support those studying the healing properties of music. “The power of music there is just phenomenal,” said Rusty. These grants help organizations studying everything from the effects of music on mood and cognition, to the healing powers of music.

And just this year, the Foundation announced a new GRAMMY: The GRAMMY Music Educator Award, which will award the winning music educator $10,000 and a trip to Los Angeles to attend the GRAMMYs.


The equivalent to the GRAMMY Foundation North of the 49th parallel, is MusiCounts.

“Enlighten. Empower. Elevate.” It’s a pretty strong mantra, and one MusiCounts champions.

MusiCounts is the charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS)—the organization that puts on the JUNOs—and it’s the country’s main music education charity.

MusiCounts plays a big role in keeping music programs alive in schools, awarding the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, a dozen scholarships annually, and helping classrooms across the country, from kindergarten to high school, purchase musical instruments and educational equipment via its Band Aid grants.

Music Heals

Providing a different kind of musical band-aid is Music Heals, the major charity supporting music therapy in Canada.

Chris Brandt is a music business teacher at BCIT, and the mastermind behind Music Heals. Brandt discovered the healing power of music is more in demand than ever. His B.C.-based foundation provides music therapy services to communities across Canada with multiple specialized programs catering to various aspects of music therapy.

One program that stands out is the iPod Pharmacy. In a society that takes technology for granted, many of us have a surplus of old electronics, but many more have a deficit. This program bridges the gap and recycles old iPods donated to the “pharmacy,” to help music therapy professionals and those they treat. It’s a wonderful way to help patients in almost any medical setting, from nursing homes, to children’s hospitals, to dialysis clinics, to maternity wards. You can quite literally give someone the gift of music. Plus, iPod donors sometimes receive free tickets to shows in return.

Whether it’s a child going through dialysis, a youth struggling with mental illness, or even a teen working towards a career in music, you can be a part of the change and help make a difference.

Give A Damn

If any of these charities speak to you, we encourage you to keep the music playing, and donate to a music charity either by volunteering, sending in your old iPods, or sparing some change.
To learn more visit:

To contribute your old iPod to the iPod Pharmacy, please mail it to:

iPod® Pharmacy c/o
Music Heals Suite 400 – 1788 W. 5th Ave. Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1P2

And if you’re a musician, consider donating some of your time and talent to play music with youth!


Katie Andreychuck is a writer based in B.C. She’s also a pretty rad baker. Check out her “Pie Sessions” where she bakes pies for musicians in exchange for an interview.

Emily Kennedy is the Founding Editor of DamnMag.

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