SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Empire State Youth Orchestra announced on Friday that it has received a $22,000 grant from the Van Norton Family Foundation. It marked the Foundation’s first-ever gift.

Van Norton Family Foundation President and Co-Founder, Heather Manthey, is inspired by her mother’s commitment to philanthropy. “I’m really proud of her and given that my generation and the one that will come after are also the recipients of her generosity, I wanted to do something to honor both her and the memory of her late father, whose inherent kindness and sense of duty continue to inspire successive family generations,” said Manthey. “I wanted to show that we will be socially responsible stewards of the gifts that we have been given by giving back in a variety of ways to help others.”

Manthey noted the reasons the Foundation’s Board selected ESYO to receive its first gift. “Our Foundation has a three-part mission: to support qualifying organizations that promote the interests of children, assist with the mental and physical health of individuals in our community, and advance the arts,” she said. “ESYO meets two of our three mission objectives, and in researching the organization we found a clear and transparent plan to most effectively utilize funds.”

ESYO said it will use this gift to support its CHIME program, specifically the Amplify Our Voice initiative. CHIME (Creating Harmony Inspiring Musical Excellence) is a free after-school program that empowers youth to develop a strong sense of personal identity and community through ensemble-based music instruction.

The Amplify Our Voice initiative offers CHIME youth a powerful vehicle to process deep emotion, explore shared experiences, and “amplify” their voices to the world. Annually, CHIME participants create an original, multi-level composition in collaboration with a guest arranger. This year, the theme of the initiative, chosen by students, is “Stop Violence and Show Kindness,” and they will be working with composer Adrian Gordon.

To date, ESYO has received a total of $105,000 from regional and national foundations in support of the CHIME program.