NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A local after-school program has been nominated for a big prize, with a big payout!

Attendance is free for students and the winning prize money would go a long way toward keeping the program going.

And while The Roots of Music is centered around teaching notes and songs, Founder and Executive Director Derrick Tabb says what they offer the students is more than just a music lesson.

According to Tabb, “It’s way more than just a music program. We try to touch every aspect of our kids’ lives. Whether it’s in school giving tutoring from different organizations like Tulane University coming in and helping us with the tutoring program to social work, where we have our social worker that’s here daily. Helping kids with everything they go through in life. Kids go through a lot.”

The program also transports many of the students and feeds almost 200 kids daily. It’s a fairly expensive endeavor.

“Right now we’re at 1.2 million dollars a year to run this program. That’s free for all the kids. Instruments, tutoring, transportation, food, everything is free for the kids and that takes the stress off the kids for them to want to be here, and takes the stress off the parent,” said Tabb.

The Roots has been named one of the 11 finalists for the coveted Lewis Prize for Music. Three winners will be chosen for the $500,000 award for creating positive change through youth music programs.

Tabb says, “Half a million dollars would take the stress off of going after money on a constant basis and be able to do more. We’ve been shaking and bobbing and making it happen but to take the stress off and be able to see a future of how we can plant things to leverage that.”

The Lewis Prize awards will be announced on Jan. 9, 2024.

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