Our Approach to Giving

Our work begins with its founders who believe that music is the window to the soul that exists in every life. We think all people deserve the chance to have healthy, productive and fulfilling lives enriched through greater education and the arts. We have been developing a process that helps us decide how to spend our time, effort, and money so we can accomplish that goal for as many people as possible. This process helps us choose the issues we will work on and the groups to which we will make grants. This page explains that process.

Jeffrey Ellis and the Ellis Music Foundation set our overarching priorities such as improving education and music education in middle school and high school programs in the U.S. and they establish high-level goals for our grantmaking programs. Then our three program teams and board of directors devise strategies for meeting these goals.

We do not pretend that the process outlined below is unique to us. In fact, we have borrowed much from other organizations that have been making grants much longer than we have. We also recognize that we don't always follow this process to the letter with every grant; in some cases it represents our aspirations as much as reality. Finally, this process is evolving as we get better at choosing strategies, making grants, and evaluating the results.

  1. Define the problem and opportunity
  2. Develop the strategy and agree on a budget
  3. Make grants consistent with strategy
  4. Measure results and learn
  5. Adjust strategy