John Ondrasik of FIVE FOR FIGHTING and The Tullman Family Office to Launch 'Music Matters Challenge'

The program will launch on March 26, running through April 30.

By: Mar. 12, 2024
John Ondrasik of FIVE FOR FIGHTING and The Tullman Family Office to Launch 'Music Matters Challenge'
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Tying in with "Music In Our Schools Month," GRAMMY nominated John Ondrasik of FIVE FOR FIGHTING and The Tullman Family Office, through its operational philanthropic wing Tullman Community Ventures,  are launching the "Music Matters Challenge," which will launch on March 26, running through April 30; with the Grand Prize winners to be announced on May 14. The national online music challenge asks Americans to create an original rendition of the song "Let Music Fill My World," a song recorded and written by Five For Fighting's John Ondrasik and students of the Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois; while sharing their own story of a time where music greatly impacted them, changed their life, or moved them to where they remember that story today. The challenge is designed to spotlight the magic of music and bring awareness to the generational impact of removing music from schools. 

The "Music Matters Challenge" is hosted by "Let Music Fill My World," an organization founded by The Tullman Family Office, and is on a mission to ensure that every child in America has access to music education in their schools. Two Grand Prize winners will be awarded - one for individual entries: $10,000 in cash, plus the opportunity to participate in selecting a music teacher for an under-resourced school to receive a salary of up to $300,000 for three years; and one for school entries, where the winning school receives a $25,000 school grant.

The idea for the competition began in 2023, when Cayley Tullman, President of The Tullman Family Office, partnered with Ondrasik of FIVE FOR FIGHTING to write a song with students from Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois. Ondrasik, Tullman, and a group of eight students participated in weekly after-school workshops and composed an original song, "Let Music Fill My World," which passionately expressed why music matters in their lives. The students wrote all of the verses in the song themselves, and had the opportunity to professionally record their song and create a music video with the help of seasoned industry music producers. As a part of this effort, the Tullman Family Office fully funded a full-time music teacher for the students at Farragut Career Academy, which propelled the idea to create the "Music Matters Challenge." Check out video message from John Ondrasik and Cayley Tullman.

Says Ondrasik, "In speaking with philanthropist Cayley Tullman about how we can best support music in the schools in inner-city Chicago, I thought of my mom, Anna Marie. Mom was a USC music grad and piano teacher. When LA Unified cut all music funding for schools in the 1970s, she volunteered at Van Gogh Elementary School and began putting on full musicals with the 5th and 6th grade classes. The impact that my mother had on me, and my classmates resonates over 50 years later. Many students still keep in touch with my mom, and for the most, music has continued to be instrumental in their lives. That is why I was so proud to collaborate with students at Farragut Academy in Chicago in writing "Let Music Fill my World." Though the title was mine, the lyrics are the kids! That effort, due to the Tullman Family Office, now provides a full-time music teacher for three years at Farragut! Lives will be changed for the better. The "Music Matters Challenge" will bring our mission and efforts to the nation, raising awareness for music in the schools while letting everyone sing and lend their voice to such a critical cause while having fun, and again, participating in a prize that will bring another full-time music teacher to a school in desperate need."

Adds Cayley Tullman, President of The Tullman Family Office and former U.S. Diplomat: "I remember sitting on the floor in front of the couch at my grandparents' home in California, mesmerized watching my Uncle Stan play guitar and sing. Stan struggled with mental health and addiction, but when playing music, he shined so bright.  Looking back, I believe music was his solace and gave him a way to express himself that he could not do with words alone.  I miss him a lot and know he would be proud of our mission to connect more young people with the magic of music."

After the initial round of submissions, 10 public entries and 10 school entries will be selected for the finals, which will be voted on by the public. The top 10 winners will be selected through a combination of digital views and a panel of judges, including John Ondrasik and Cayley Tullman (additional judges TBA).

During the 2008-2009 recession, public school per-pupil spending dropped by 7% nationally, leading to drastic reductions in art and music classes. Music programs have since not recovered, with only 19 out of 50 schools including arts as a key area of their state accountability system. Students are not only losing a creative outlet. Music programs have been shown to increase standardized test scores, reduce disciplinary infractions, and improve graduation and attendance rates (College Board, 2002), (Bowen et al, 2019), (NAMM Foundation, 2015). With the "Music Matters Challenge," The Tullman Family Office, with the help of Five For Fighting's John Ondrasik, is creating this initiative to help turn around these statistics.

Stay up to date on all things "Let Music Fill My World," and the "Music Matters Challenge" on socials here.


"Let Music Fill My World" was created to ensure every child in America has access to music education in their schools with efforts to put the mission in action by (1) Placing Music Teachers in Schools - every year, the Tullman Family Office will fund at least one full-time music education teacher in a school in America that does not have one, for a three-year salary up to $300k. (2) Maximizing Fundraising for Music Education Nationwide by paving a path for significant fundraising opportunities through concerts and other artistic ventures with iconic artists to increase nonprofit funding in support of music education in schools and (3) Increasing Congressional Attention on Federal Funding for Music Education by using the Let Music Fill My World platform to urge Members of Congress to support robust funding for music education in schools. The Music Matters Challenge's mission: We all have a voice and a story to tell. We want to hear your story about how music brought magic to your life through the Music Matters Challenge, hosted by Let Music Fill My World. Join us to raise awareness about the importance of music education in schools, and to provide a music teacher to a school in need.

Listen to "Let Music Fill My World" HERE.


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