Impact in the United States

Based on research conducted in 2014 by Elaine Sandoval '13, here is a snapshot of the activity and impact of the Sistema Fellows in the United States:

  • Fellows are transforming the lives of vulnerable children in 37 communities in 17 states, from Juneau, Alaska to Austin, Texas.
  • When the first class of Fellows entered the field in 2010, they served approximately 600 children. In 2014, close to 5,000 children are participating in creative youth development programs involving Fellows.
  • On average, a child spends 9 hours per week in free programming involving Fellows. Cumulatively, children in Fellows' programs will spend more than 1.3 million hours this year.
  • There is tremendous variability in the scale of the Fellows' initiatives: Program enrollment ranges from fewer than 20 to more than 500 children with operating budgets of less than $50,000 to more than $1 million.
  • Initiatives involving Sistema Fellows employ nearly 300 teaching artists, and are supported by 450 regular volunteers.


Following is a list of El Sistema-inspired initiatives across the U.S. that have either been founded by, or employ a Sistema Fellow (or, in some cases, more than one Fellow).

AK, Juneau 

Juneau Alaska Music Matters
Glacier Valley Elementary School
Lorrie Heagy (2010-present)

AZ, Phoenix

Harmony Project Phoenix
Diogo Pereira (2015-present)

CA, Los Angeles

Heart of Los Angeles (YOLA at HOLA)
Christine Witkowski (2010-2015), Monique van Willingh (2015-present)

Youth Orchestra Los Angeles
Daniel Berkowitz (2010-2015)

Harmony Project Leimert Park
Monique van Willingh (2014-2015)

CA, Santa Barbara

Incredible Children’s Art Network
Xochitl Tafoya (2013-2016)

CA, Ventura

New West Symphony Harmony Project
Andrea Landin (2013-present)

CO, Denver

El Sistema Colorado
Megan Moran (2014-present)

DC, Washington

Children’s Orchestra of DC
Graciela Briceño (2013-2014), Elizabeth Schurgin (2013-present)

FL, Palm Beach

Encore Project of the Palm Beaches
Carlos Roldan (2013)

Miami Music Project
Steven Liu (2015-present)

GA, Atlanta

Atlanta Music Project, AMPlify
Dantes Rameau (2010-present), Aisha Bowden (2012-present)

IL, Chicago

YOURS Project
People’s Music School
Albert Oppenheimer (2012-2014)

Shift: Englewood
Ayriole Frost (2014-present), Albert Oppenheimer (2014-present)

KY, Lexington

North Limestone MusicWorks
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras
Rachel Hockenberry (2013-2014)

MA, Boston

Bridge Boston Charter School
Julie Davis (2012-present)

El Sistema Program
Conservatory Lab Charter School
Rebecca Levi (2010-2013), David Malek (2010-2012)

Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program
Josiah Quincy Elementary School
Graciela Briceño (2011-2013, 2014-present), Avi Mehta (2012-present)

Margarita Muniz Academy
Avi Mehta (2013-present)

Revolution of Hope
David France (2013-present)

Open Access to Music Education
Youth and Family Enrichment Services
Marie Montilla (2012-2013)

MA, Pittsfield

Marie Montilla (2011-2012)

MD, Baltimore

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Hana Morford (2014-present)

MN, Minneapolis

Advocates for Community through Musical Excellence
Sara Zanussi (2012-2013)

MN, St. Paul

Sara Zanussi (2013-present)

NC, Durham

Kathryn Wyatt (2010-present)

NY, New York

Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Jennifer Kessler (2013-2015), Clara Yang (2014-2015)

Corona Youth Music Project
Alvaro Rodas (2010-present)

WHIN Music Project
David Gracia (2012-2015), Andrea Profili (2012-present)

OH, Cincinnati 

Laura Jekel (2011-2015)

OH, Cleveland

El Sistema@Rainey
Isabel Trautwein (2011-present)

El Sistema@University Circle
Isabel Trautwein (2013-2014), David Malek (2013-2014)

OK, Oklahoma City

El Sistema Oklahoma
José Luis Hernández-Estrada (2013)

OK, Tulsa

Sistema Tulsa
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
José Luis Hernández-Estrada (2014-present)

PA, Allentown

El Sistema Lehigh Valley
Allentown Symphony Association
Steven Liu (2011-2015)

PA, Philadelphia

Play On, Philly!
Stanford Thompson (2010-present), Ben Fuller (2013-2015)

Sister Cities Girlchoir
Alysia Lee (2012-present)

RI, Providence

Daily Orchestra Program
Community MusicWorks
Adrienne Taylor (2012-present)

TX, Austin 

Austin Soundwaves
Patrick Slevin (2011-present)

TX, Fort Worth

B Sharp Youth Music Program
Elizabeth Schurgin (2012)

WA, Yakima

Yakima Music en Accion
Stephanie Hsu (2012-present)