The Herb Alpert Foundation has made a donation in the amount of $10.1 million to Los Angeles City College in an effort to offer a free education to all music majors at the school.
Herb Alpert, a trumpeter known for his unique style of Latin jazz pop, is also the co-founder of A&M Records. The label is responsible for the release of a number of albums by many artists including Cat Stevens and Janet Jackson.
"LACC is a gem of an institution," Alpert said regarding the donation. "The biggest motivation was helping kids who don't have the financial energy to go to a major college. At LACC, they've nurtured thousands of dedicated students every year. My brother went there. My ex-partner [record producer] Lou Adler went there. I've visited the school. It's alive. It's kickin'."
Robert Schwartz, the director of the LACC Foundation, called the donation a transformative offer to the school. He said that not only is it the largest gift ever given to an individual community college in Southern California, but it is also the second-largest in the history of the entire state.
The money provided by the foundation will be put toward the creation of an endowment meant to fund tuition for music majors at the school and supply music instruction for the students, writes Tom Teicholz for Forbes. In addition, the money will allow the number of students accepted into the music program at the school to increase from 175 to 250. The free tuition is set to take effect in the fall semester of 2017.
This is not the first time that the Herb Alpert Foundation has made a donation to the school. The first donation by the organization to the school was 15 years ago in the amount of $10,000. The amounts increased in more recent years, including a three-year $300,000 grant to go toward a number of things, including scholarship support, reports Carolina Miranda for The Los Angeles Times.
However, with that grant just coming to an end, a meeting was held nine months ago between Schwartz and the head of the Herb Alpert Foundation Rona Sebastian to determine what the foundation could do to help the school.
Alpert said that he was most interested in helping a public institution where students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds can have an opportunity to receive a quality education.
"Maybe we can help open the door to students who are financially challenged," he said, "and don't have an opportunity to go to a UCLA."
Schwartz said that the donation was appreciated and very needed by the school, which is currently facing cutbacks as a result of the budget crisis in the state. With funding reduced, the number of courses offered dropped, as well as resources available to the school, making it difficult for students to complete a program in a short period of time.
In addition, estimates by the Council for Aid to Education, the national organization that puts together data on educational giving, suggests that only 1.5% of charitable gift dollars raised by educational institutions end up being given to two-year institutions.