Finding the Funds

Get Yourself to the NAfME Collegiate Leadership Advocacy Summit 

By Ben Reyes, NAfME Membership Manager 

Picture this: Washington, DC. Standing on Capitol Hill. Dozens of music education majors from all over the country. Alongside them, even more music education leaders and advocates. And most importantly, standing with them, you  

Astonishing image, right?  

Let’s get you there.

The annual NAfME Collegiate Leadership Advocacy Summit (CLAS) is a multiday event filled with exciting leadership-centric learning sessions, opportunities for networking with fellow collegiates and leaders in the field, and a chance to share your story with federal legislators. To be frank, there’s nothing quite like it on the national level, and the experiences the Summit affords its attendees are immeasurable. 

So, before you check out the 2024 CLAS webpage that contains everything you need to know about registration, let’s talk ways to make this accessible to you and your chapter.  

  • Institutional Funds: This includes funds from anywhere on your college/university campus. As a former academic advisor at a major university, I was always discovering new pots of funds that I never knew existed for students (and the students didn’t know, either!)
    • Music Department: A great place to start. Your department may have funds set aside specifically for student-centered professional development.
    • College Funding: Is your Music Department housed within a Fine Arts College? Then that’s your next stop! Having an advocate to speak on your behalf or with you is never a bad idea (think NAfME Collegiate Chapter Advisor).
    • Student Government Association (SGA) Funding: If your school has a well-established SGA, connect with the leadership, particularly if your NAfME Collegiate chapter is registered through the SGA.
    • Other Options: This is where it’s going to get specific to every college/university, so hear me out. In my undergraduate years, we had an organization on campus specifically for events like this called the Fine Arts Funding Board. In fact, I was the Chair of this Board and oversaw the distribution of thousands of dollars to campus organizations. Why am I bringing this up? Because I didn’t know this existed until I joined the Board. This is my plea to you: Ask around! Perhaps your institution has something similar, and you just need to find it. Leave no stone unturned, no door un-knocked, and no email inbox un-graced by your request.

Tip: Most of these areas will ask how funding you or multiple members of your chapter will impact a greater number of students. Be prepared for this answer by stating that you will prepare workshops, presentations, reports, anything it takes to share anything and everything you learned at the NAfME Collegiate Leadership Advocacy Summit with your peers.

  • State Music Education Association (MEA) Funding: This will vary by state, but it never hurts to ask your State MEA if there is money in the budget. Even if it’s partial funding, it would be a start! A simple email to the state MEA President or Executive Director inquiring about the availability of funding for interested students would be a good starting point. Check out your state’s MEA website for contact information.
  • Chapter-Based Fundraising: Many hands make light work. While it may be unrealistic for your entire chapter membership to go, sending one representative and dedicating specific fundraising events, or a portion of fundraising events, to offset the costs may be a worthwhile endeavor. Perhaps it’s tradition to send the Chapter President each year and dedicate one fundraiser to the registration fee or the lodging. Something to keep in mind is that the leadership skills you’ll develop at the Summit will benefit your entire chapter, not to mention the impact of your advocacy efforts on all the music education profession!
  • Crowdfunding: If done right, community buy-in can do most of the heavy lifting here. Online fundraising platforms have soared in popularity—they’re ubiquitous on social media as of late (speaking as a chronically online millennial.) But it’s the stories you tell and if you reach your audience that’ll determine its effectiveness. Why should someone donate to your cause? Why should this matter to them? Keep that in mind if you choose this route, and remember: There’s no such thing as being too appreciative.  
  • Lastly, The Sometimes Not-So-Obvious: Let me start by saying I was a music education major, and I know just how limited your time is already, so please know these are some simple considerations to pick up a few extra dollars here and there to bring you closer to your goals.
    • App-Based Income: I couldn’t tell you the number of times app-based delivery gigs came in clutch when I needed a few bucks, and I could do it completely on my own time. And there are plenty of app-based build-your-own-schedule options to choose from these days. Don’t have a car but like pets? Pet care gig apps might be for you!
    • Art Commissions: Do you make jewelry? Draw? Are you good with photography? People (e.g., me) are more likely to commission others if they know the cause (e.g., raising money to go to an incredible Collegiate Leadership Advocacy Summit).
    • The B Word: Budgeting. It’s not fun, and I was awful at it back in undergrad, but sometimes you don’t always know where your money is going, and you may be able to afford more than you think! Throw everything into a spreadsheet, map it out, and perhaps your budget goals are closer than you realized!   

You belong at the NAfME Collegiate Leadership Advocacy Summit, and while it may seem intimidating now, I encourage you to start exploring your funding options early and often 

You have a story to tell, and the Summit is the place to tell it. 

We’ll see you there.

NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit image

Photo: © Ashlee Wilcox Photography, LLC

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

March 22, 2024


  • Advocacy
  • Collegiate
  • NAfME News


March 22, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (

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