In June of 2018 the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) was the recipient of a generous grant from the BK 5K Youth Fund and in just a few short months the impact has been huge! With the grant MCA was able to purchase a classroom set of children’s guitars, hand drums, world music instruments, percussion bell kits, hand bells, boomwackers, preschooler sized chairs and creative movement tools. With these new additions MCA has been able to provide over 300 youth of all ages the opportunity to experience the academic and social benefits of music education.

The academic and social benefits of arts education are well documented. A recent study conducted by Michigan State University researchers found a “very strong correlation between childhood engagement in the creative arts and measurable success later in life,” like publishing a book or receiving a patent for an invention. Yet, according to the Arts Education Partnership, “at the same time we celebrate the arts for the value they add to learning and to life, study of the arts is quietly disappearing from our schools.” With dwindling budgets dedicated to the arts in area schools, opportunities for arts exploration in a community setting is critical. MCA is striving to fill the in the gaps in local music education thanks to this support.

Here is a short list of all of the new programs that have been possible thanks to the BK 5K Youth Funds:

  • Winona Arts Camp- 10 kids had the opportunity to take a guitar class and even performed 3 pieces for friends and family on the last day of camp. As a result 2 students enrolled in the Fall Beginning Guitar Class and one is now studying privately. Additionally the other 20 campers also utilized drums and other instruments purchased with the grant in Songwriting 101 and Sing Out classes. See campers in action.
  • Winona Family YMCA Summer Camps- MCA partnered with the YMCA offering both full and half day Art Camps and monthly visits helping us give arts experiences including world music and drumming classes to over 200 kids.
  • Cochrane-Fountain City 4-H Summer Program- over 30 kids loaded up on a bus and headed from the Cochrane-Fountain City area to enjoy an afternoon of arts experiences including a drumming class.
  • Riverway Learning Community Music Classes- MCA is so excited to be providing general music classes for PK-6th grade students during the school day. Thanks to this grant we have chairs for our youngest visitors and students are able to learn about music through hands on experience with drums, guitars and more.
  • Tap Camp- During MCA’s 2nd annual tap camp the newly purchased drums were put to good use during “Music for Dancers” classes.
  • Private Music Lessons- MCA private lesson instructors of a variety of instruments have been able to utilize the new instruments to keep lessons exciting by including the instruments in rhythm play and more.
  • Beginning Guitar Class- Our beginning guitar class is full with a waiting list, thanks to the opportunity for youth to be able to borrow a guitar. This is a great way for students and families to try out an instrument without having to make a lofty investment or monthly rental payment.
  • Instrument Petting Zoo- Community members of all ages enjoyed meeting and interacting with our world instruments during our Fall Open House.
  • Drummin’ up Fun- Campers ages 3-6 had so much fun learning drumming techniques while also strenghting their life skills such as listening, concentration and more during Drummin’ up Fun camp. See our 3-4 year old drummers in action.

We are so grateful to the BK-5K Youth Fund for making this happen and to live in such an amazing and supportive community!

About the BK-5K Road Race

The BK-5K is held to honor Bob Kierlin, founder of Fastenal and lifelong supporter of youth programs. All proceeds go to various area youth organizations/programs demonstrating financial need. Funding grants will be evaluated for merit and dispersed by the BK-5K Youth Fund Award Committee in partnership with the Winona Community Foundation. Race winners have the opportunity to donate their cash awards to Winona youth programs and receive a commemorative certificate. If you would like to learn more about the please visit: