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The Lasting Legacy of Music

Savannah, Girls Rock participant, during a performance at the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Reservation.

Walking down State Street in 1998, Roderick Hare was not expecting to run into his high school choir teacher, Phyllis Zimmerman. At first, she did not recognize him, but when he said his name and she said, “Oh, that voice,” he felt 10-feet tall again. Zimmerman had retired as a teacher, but she had started an a cappella nonprofit choir called Canticle. Shortly after their chance meeting, Hare found himself as Chair of the Board. Enjoying his first experience in philanthropy so much, he soon became involved in many other arts nonprofits, such as Co-founder and Chair of the Board for Notes for Notes, an organization that offers youth the opportunity to explore, create and record music for free. Notes for Notes is also the latest recipient of a grant from the Barbara J. Wright and Phyllis E. Zimmerman Scholarship Fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“Everyone has that teacher or that person that had an influence on the trajectory of their life and Phyllis Zimmerman was that person for me,” said Hare. “She influenced my life when she was my high school choir teacher, then when she introduced me to the nonprofit world and, even today, with the Santa Barbara Foundation’s most recent grant to Notes for Notes from a fund in her name. It has all come full circle - she is still influencing my life and the lives of many others today.”

The Zimmerman Scholarship Fund, along with the Mary K. and Edith Pillsbury Foundation Fund, are field of interest funds of the Santa Barbara Foundation that support students pursuing music education in Santa Barbara County, with a specific emphasis on providing scholarships to increase access and affordability. Field of interest funds allow donors, like Zimmerman and Pillsbury, to identify and support a broad, charitable purpose or category of interest, like music, and rely on the foundation to identify the organizations that are capable of making the greatest impact in that area even after they have passed away.

“Field of interest funds are so important to our mission because they allow donors to create a legacy in the areas that they are most passionate about, while also allowing the foundation to have the greatest impact in the community,” said Jan Campbell, Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropic Officer. “For example, the Pillsbury Foundation Fund and Zimmerman Scholarship Fund are paid out over five years to have both a sustainable, lasting impact on the organization and to honor the legacies of the donor.”

In addition to providing a grant to Notes for Notes, a Pillsbury Foundation Fund and Zimmerman Scholarship Fund grant was also distributed to Girls Rock Santa Barbara, an organization that empowers girls through music education, creative expression and performance. Its founder and CEO Jen Baron was also a choir student of Phyllis Zimmerman.

“In our programming, we try to provide girls with many examples of women who ‘rock,’ however you may take that, because when you show girls that they can be whatever they want to be, it is so powerful,” said Baron. “Thinking about the mentors in my life who influenced me, the most rewarding part of my job is being able to provide a space for girls to ‘rock’ and watching them transform.”

Due to the hard work of Baron and her colleagues at Girls Rock, her own legacy and the legacy of those across decades who influenced her and share her vision, like Zimmerman and Pillsbury, will live out in the community with the help of the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“We are so grateful to the Santa Barbara Foundation for this grant because it will provide us with sustainability in our programs and allow more girls to participate and become empowered,” said Baron. “The opportunity of being able to help more girls just brings tears to my eyes.”

Whether through programs like Girls Rock and Notes for Notes, or the other programs recipients of the Pillsbury Foundation Fund and Zimmerman Scholarship Fund, such as the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and Santa Barbara Strings, the benefit of empowering youth cannot be understated. Beginning with Phyllis Zimmerman, Roderick Hare and Jen Baron, and now onto the youth in the programs that they started, the lasting power of positive change that music has in Santa Barbara County continues to inspire and empower. As Hare said, “I know Phyllis Zimmerman and I know she would be pleased.”

For more information about setting up a field of interest fund with the Santa Barbara Foundation, please visit our field of interest fund page or contact Jan Campbell, Chief Philanthropic Officer and Senior Vice President, at jcampbell@sbfoundation.org.

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