Foundation Friday: Memphis Music Initiative, Sphinx Empowering Community Through Art

The Memphis Music Initiative has invested more than $1 million in 20 music nonprofits.

June is dedicated to celebrating African American music. Black Music Month was established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to celebrate the impact of African American music and enrich the country’s cultural heritage. Genres include blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and rap, among others.

memphis music initiative

this NBA Foundation Awarded to the Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) in December 2021 and to the Sphinx in August 2022 to create artistic opportunities for Black descendant communities nationally and regionally.

MMI is a nonprofit organization that invests in youth development through music to create equitable opportunities for youth of color in Memphis. The organization is made up of three components that support youth: school programs, work experience and grant writing.

“We want young people to have a way to express their feelings and hopes,” said Amber Hamilton, president and CEO of MMI. “Our job is to give them a mirror, a microphone and a milestone.”

Through in-school music education, paid summer internship opportunities, training and professional development, and grant funding for professional grassroots music education programs, MMI partners with more than 45 Memphis schools, impacting up to 4,000 students annually.

Since its inception, MMI has invested more than $1 million in 20 music nonprofits, further impacting more than 2,500 youth annually.

“The NBA Foundation is looking for organizations that can encourage and amplify voices. We come to Memphis, the hometown of the Grizzlies, which is so important to the community and the many things that bring us together,” Hamilton said.

“These three organizations share the same values: the potential of our young people and the resources they need [to] Support what they are trying to build.


Through Sphinx, approximately 150,000 teenagers have received free music training.

About 150,000 teenagers have received free music training through Sphinx.

Sphinx is an organization dedicated to changing lives through the arts, specifically classical music. The Michigan-based organization focuses on education, artist development, performing arts and leadership.

“Black and Latinx communities are underrepresented in classical music. We are committed to providing opportunities and highlighting artists by providing resources, programming and jobs for them across the country and around the world,” said Lauren McNeary, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Sphinx.

“We have been able to grow and expand the Sphinx Performance Academy program supported by the NBA Foundation,” McNeil added.

Sphinx has invested more than $10 million in artist grants and scholarships. Approximately 150,000 young people have received free music training and community involvement through the program.

By focusing on increasing the representation of classical music in black and brown communities, the Sphinx provides free education and creative youth development programs every year. They also host annual tours showcasing works by black and Latin composers.

“Students in the program attend nationally accredited conservatories and music schools. We have been able to reach young musicians across the country through the Sphinx Performance Institute and have partnered with institutions in Cleveland, Denver, Detroit and New York. Community members interact.

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