Play It Forward
Michael Allen Harrison started the Snowman Foundation and Play It Forward in 1999 to support music education in Portland, Oregon. His efforts have spread across the state of Oregon and up to Seattle, WA. His vision to support music education created Ten Grands as a fundraising concert and this concert alone has raised several million dollars in donated instruments AND money to support music programs in our community and beyond over the last 18 years.
We are so thankful for his vision to Play It Forward!!
What Drives Us
Nearly 20 years ago, the City of Portland passed a measure that cut funding to music education in our public schools. Having benefited from the free music education that eventually led to a successful career as a composer and pianist, Michael Allen Harrison could not watch this happen silently. As he expressed his dismay with friends and colleagues, he realized that most of them agreed. With the support of a small group of friends, Michael founded The Snowman Foundation – an organization that aimed to provide access to musical education to students. To further this vision, the Snowman Foundation needed money, so Michael and a few dozen of his good friends did what they do best – they organized a show, and voila, Ten Grands was born!
Eighteen years and a few million dollars later, Michael has accomplished what he set out to do – he kept music education alive for tens of thousands of kids in the Pacific Northwest. To date, the Snowman Foundation has provided hundreds of cash grants to various musical programs and organizations, allowing them to continue teaching music, and to expand their reach well beyond what they initially set out to do.
As the Snowman Foundation expanded, donors wanted to express their support not just through monetary contributions, but also through instrument donations. Thus, Play It Forward, affectionately known as PIF was born. Play It Forward distributes gently used instruments gifted by donors to students and music programs throughout the Portland community. PIF is an integral member of the Snowman Foundation, and has been supported by the Foundation for many years.
In recent years, Play It Forward has expanded its scope of work, and began offering music lesson scholarships to individual kids, as well lessons to children in schools during school hours and after school.
Additionally, Play It Forward helps organize Ten Grands for Kids, a free concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall intended for children from the Portland Metro area. It is a live show featuring ten grand pianos placed on a concert hall stage and played by nationally and locally renowned pianists.
This concert has inspired many to begin to learn the piano, and for accomplished young artists, Ten Grands has offered performance opportunities, which have been life changing.
Ten Grands for Kids allows Play It Forward to fulfill its mission of providing exposure to music and experience of live music to children from all walks of life. Play It Forward is honored to serve its community and to support the developing and thriving lives of children by removing the barriers that may exist between them and the musical education which is rightfully theirs.
Our Board of Directors