Local non-profit Beyond the Bars has received a $25,000 grant from the Lewis Prize for Music’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. According to a post on the organization’s Facebook page, the grant will help Beyond the Bars to “continue to provide holistic music education and create more musical spaces.”

The Lewis Prize awarded “$1.25 million to 32 Creative Youth Development organizations across the U.S. that have adapted and responded to the pressing needs of the young people they serve amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” states their Facebook page.

As one of 32 awardees, “Beyond the Bars is a music and career planning program that is dedicated to interrupting the cycles of violence and incarceration. It seeks to provide music programs and safe spaces to youth who have otherwise not had access to them,” says the program’s Facebook page description.

In March, the non-profit celebrated its five year anniversary. Executive Director Matthew Kerr took to social media to mark the occasion. He said that Beyond the Bars has allowed him to see “so many incredible forces for good.” Kerr also went on to say that in 5 years, the program went from  “teaching students who were incarcerated with a few teachers to running over 8 programs for youth throughout Philadelphia who have been impacted by violence in any way.” 

Kerr’s post says that the program has taught 350 students who played shows all throughout the city. The program also now has received an official proclamation from the State House of Representatives and has been named a diversion program for DA’s office. The post says that the program has grown to have over 20 teachers in 2020.

To conclude the announcement on the Beyond the Bars’ Facebook page, the organization stated that “Music is a human right that all young people deserve to have and thanks to Lewis Prize we are set up to support the next generation of talented musicians.”

Read this recent feature about Beyond The Bars by The Key’s Yoni Kroll.