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  Mar 07 2020

UPDATE on Merit Madness (3/17/20)

Dear Merit Students,

Thanks to all of you for your participation so far in our first ever “Merit Madness” campaign that you all helped create and spearhead. Many of you have been diligently tracking your practice minutes, and collecting donations from generous sponsors. On behalf of all of us at Merit, please know how very grateful we are to you for the time and effort you have given to support our music school.

We all know that we are undergoing some challenging times these days due to the coronavirus pandemic. We get it, and we want you to know that we support you and are cheerleading you from the sidelines all the way.

For all students who would like to continue to participate in Merit Madness, tracking your practice and securing donations and sponsors, please feel free to continue to do so through the close of the campaign — Saturday, March 21. The GoFundMe Charity donation page and Clockify practice tracking will stay live. If you are tracking your practice and collecting donations on the paper forms we provided, go ahead and continue to do so. You will be able to turn in your paper forms along with cash and check donations to Merit and pick up your participation prizes once the school reopens.

If this time in your life has been so disruptive that it just seems really hard to continue with the Merit Madness campaign, we completely understand if you are no longer able to participate. This has been a really challenging time for all of us!

Even though onsite classes at Merit are canceled for now, practicing your instrument is not! We know that you all are wonderful Merit music students and that practicing music is part of your life. Please let music be your outlet and use it to bring light to your friends and family during this difficult time.

You can read more about Merit School of Music’s response to these challenging times due to coronavirus here.

We miss you very much and, above all, wish you wellness and health — for you and your families. There are better days ahead, and the power of music will get us through these trying times.

Please contact Meredith Richard at if you have any questions about Merit Madness and above all, stay healthy and well.

With warm wishes,

Merit School of Music

What is Merit Madness?

March is Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) which is a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of music education. We’re celebrating MIOSM with Merit Madness – a two-week practice challenge for all Merit students! Students will secure sponsors to pledge a set monetary amount per minute of practice (e.g. $0.50/minute of practice) or make a one-time donation for the duration of Merit Madness, March 7-21. Every level of support - from 5 cents/minute and up - is welcome.

How can I donate?

All donations made to Merit Madness will support financial aid for Merit students, helping to fortify our mission of equal access to high-quality music education. Follow these easy steps to get started:

1. Click on the blue "Donate" button above to make a donation. 

2. Choose where your money goes:

    ♩If you would like to make a donation sponsoring a specific student, click "Select a Team," choose the “Student Team,” and then click "Select a Fundraiser" to select the student you would like to sponsor. 

    ♩If you would like to make a general donation to Merit Madness, please click "Select a Team," and then select "General Donations".

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT! Thanks to our generous matching donors, all Merit Madness donations will be matched up to a total of $10,000. That means your donation will go twice as far!

How can I participate?

All Merit School of Music students are invited and encouraged to participate in Merit Madness! Here's how you can join in:

1. Sign up. Starting on February 22, Sign up to participate in Merit Madness during the special announcements made at Live From Gottlieb and during rehearsals. If you miss these announcements, you can always sign up and pick up your Merit Madness packet by stopping by the front desk or sign up online here

2. Track your practice minutes. Help us reach our goal of 100% student participation! When you sign up you’ll be asked if you want to log your minutes online or on paper.  All students who track their practice will receive a prize (details below). 

    ♩ Option A (Recommended): Track your minutes online! Sign up for Clockify at or download the mobile app and get added to Merit’s special Clockify team. You must join Merit’s team in order for your minutes to count.

    ♩ Option B: Track your minutes on paper! Use the practice log in the packet to manually track how many minutes your practice and when. If you choose this option, you must return your log to the front desk by March 24th for your minutes to count.

3. Set a goal for practicing and track your practice. How many minutes do you think you can practice during the two-week challenge? Try to hit this number in Clockify or on your practice log.

4. Find as many sponsors as you can. Ask your friends, neighbors, family, and even parent’s workplaces (if it's OK with your parents!) to sponsor your practice minutes.

    ♩ Sponsors can pay per minute. For example, your grandma can pledge 25 cents per minute. If you practice for 100 minutes, your grandma will donate $25 to Merit.

    ♩ Sponsors can make a one-time donation. For example, your neighbor can pledge to donate $100. No matter how many minutes you practice, your neighbor will donate $100.

    ♩ Pro tip: Share your practice progress with your sponsors throughout Merit Madness and post on social media using #MeritMadness and remember to tag @meritmusic!

5. Collect donations. Don’t forget to collect the money your sponsors pledge! There are two ways to collect donations:

    ♩ Option A (Recommended): Create a personal online fundraising page. Click "Join" above and select "Join a Team". Then pick the team named "Student Team'' to join the team along with your fellow students. Once you have created your page, you’ll be able to set a fundraising goal (any amount is OK!), add videos, photos, and update your story. Your sponsors will be able to donate directly to your Merit Madness goal by visiting your page.

    ♩ Option B: You can collect donations via check or cash. Use the tear off sheet included in the packet as pledge forms for your sponsors. Donations must be turned in along with Sponsor Pledge Forms to the front desk in the Merit lobby by Tuesday, March 24.

6. Turn in donations, practice logs, sponsor sheets, and sponsor pledge forms by Tuesday, March 24. Place all these materials in the envelope included in your packet and drop it off with the front desk. If you log your practice minutes you’ll receive a prize, regardless of how much money you raise. Students who raise a $100 or more will win additional prizes.

7.  Party! Join us for a special celebration in the Community Room on Saturday, March 28.

Participation Prizes!

All participating students will also be invited to celebrate their success and pick up their przies at the Merit Madness Championship Celebration on Saturday, March 28 from 11:30am-1pm in the Community Room. 

    ♩ Track your practice to receive a special Merit Madness sticker

    ♩ Raise $100 or more to receive a Merit water bottle or travel mug

    ♩ Raise $250 or more to receive a Merit sweatshirt

About Merit School of Music

Merit School of Music is dedicated to helping young people transform their lives by providing equal access to a high-quality music education, with nearly 70 percent of students benefiting from need-based financial aid and low-cost instrument rental. Merit enables motivated students, regardless of economic circumstance, to develop their talent and to use music as a springboard for achieving their full personal potential, with virtually 100 percent of our conservatory graduates going on to college.

Your donation can make a difference in a young musician's life. Please consider supporting Merit School of Music and helping to provide the youth of Chicago with life-changing access to the city's best music education.

Posted by Merit School of Music