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Foundation Friday: Memphis Music Initiative, Sphinx empower communities through the arts 

The NBA Foundation backed-organizations are making changes nationwide using the power of music. 

Memphis Music Initiative has invested over $1 million in 20 music nonprofits.

The month of June is dedicated to celebrating African-American music. Established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, Black Music Month celebrates African-American musical influences that enrich the country’s cultural heritage. Genres include blues, jazz,  rock and roll, hip-hop and rap, among others.

Memphis Music Initiative

The NBA Foundation granted Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) in December 2021, and Sphinx in August 2022, creating opportunities in the arts for the Black descent communities national and regional.

MMI is a nonprofit organizing that invests in youth development through music, creating equitable opportunities for youth of color in Memphis. The organization comprises three components to support its youth: school programs, job experience and grant-writing. 

“We want our young people to have avenues they can connect with to express their feelings and hopes,” said Amber Hamilton, president and CEO of MMI. “Our job is to give them a mirror, microphone and a milepost.”

Through in-school music education, paid summer internship opportunities, training and professional development and grant funding professional grassroots music education programs MMI has partnered with over 45 schools in Memphis, impacting as many as 4,000 students per year.

Since its inception, MMI has invested over $1 million in 20 music nonprofits that further impact over 2,500 youth annually. 

“The NBA Foundation was looking for organizations who were encouraging and amplifying a voice. With us being in Memphis, hometown of the Grizzlies, it’s very important to the sphere of the community and of the many things that bring us together,” said Hamilton. 

“All three organizations share the same values: potential in our young people and the resources they need [to] support what they are trying to build.” 


Through Sphinx, approximately 150,000 youth have received tuition-free musical training.

Approximately 150,000 youth have received tuition-free musical training through Sphinx,

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

“Classical music representation from the Black and Latin community  is low. We work to provide opportunities and highlight artists by providing resources, programming, and jobs for our artists across the country and globally,” said Lauren McNeary, director of corporate partnerships for Sphinx.

“We have been able to grow and expand our Sphinx Performance Academy program that the NBA Foundation supports,” McNeary added. 

Sphinx has invested over $10 million in artist grants and scholarships. Approximately 150,000 youth have received tuition-free musical training and community engagement through the program.

By focusing on increasing representation of classical music in Black and Brown communities, Sphinx offers yearly tuition-free education and creative youth development initiatives. They also present an annual tour featuring works by Black and Latin composers. 

“The students that have participated in the program have gone to study at nationally recognized conservatories and music schools. We have been able to reach young musicians across the country and interact with community members in Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, and New York through the Sphinx Performance Academy,” said McNeary.