William Davidson Foundation gives $15 million to DSO, including continued sponsorship of the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and Dresner Foundation pledge new and increased support to DSO

Detroit – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announces that it has received new and increased support totaling $18.5 million from four foundations: the William Davidson Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Dresner Foundation. The donations will support a variety of programs by the orchestra both on the stage and in the community, as well as add to its long-term financial sustainability.

The William Davidson Foundation, longtime supporter of the DSO, is giving $15 million to the orchestra. The new gift includes continued sponsorship of the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series, which has brought the DSO into community venues across Southeast Michigan for the past seven years. The pledge also features a $5 million challenge grant to the DSO’s permanent endowment to inspire additional, widespread support.

In recognition of this significant gift, the DSO announced that the atrium at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center will from now on be named the William Davidson Atrium. These announcements came at a private reception celebrating the DSO’s most generous supporters and families over the past five years, including leadership from the four foundations.

“The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has recently achieved tremendous successes, with five consecutive balanced budgets, increased individual giving, and our highest ticket sales in years,” said Mark Davidoff, Chairman of the DSO Board of Directors and Michigan Managing Partner of Deloitte. “While there is more to be done as we move into the second half of our ten-year plan, we want to take the time to thank all those who have believed in and supported our vision to increase and broaden the DSO’s impact in our resurgent city and region.”

DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons said, “The William Davidson Foundation’s gift builds on past annual support critical to the community-centric program we began together six years ago and bears their name, invests significant resources in the short- and long-term strategies laid out in our ten-year plan, and provides a timely call to action around the importance of building endowment to ensure service to future generations. We are thrilled with all of the new gifts announced today and hope this message of ‘it takes a village’ will resonate for others to join in support of the long-term viability of the DSO.”

“Our family’s support of the DSO began three generations ago,” says Ralph J. Gerson, a member of the William Davidson family, the William Davidson Foundation Executive Committee, and the DSO Board of Directors. “We want this world-class orchestra—this community jewel—to enrich audiences in our region and across the globe for generations to come. The DSO’s exemplary leadership, musical artistry, and unmatched accessibility continue to inspire us. We hope the Foundation’s $5 million challenge grant will inspire others to contribute to the endowment campaign and thereby become lifelong supporters.”

This challenge from the William Davidson Foundation has already been halfway met, thanks to new support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Dresner Foundation.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is meeting the challenge with a new $2 million gift to the DSO’s endowment (for a total of $2.75 million when combined with its recently announced annual fund gift) to support the work of the DSO’s Social Progress Initiative. This includes bolstering enrollment for underserved youth in the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles program, growing the talent of these students through regular private lessons, and expanding the orchestra’s African-American Fellowship program to have two fellows in the orchestra simultaneously.

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation is giving $1 million to the DSO’s endowment to meet the challenge, adding to their ongoing operating support for several artistic initiatives including the DSO’s Civic Jazz Ensemble. Prior to the start of the foundation, Fred and Barbara Erb also personally endowed the DSO’s Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair beginning in 2001 and currently held by Terence Blanchard.

The Dresner Foundation is giving $500,000 in new support to this challenge, in addition to $600,000 it pledged to the orchestra in March to provide comprehensive music education for underserved youth through increased classroom visits and the establishment of a new entry-level program in the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles. The Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble launched in September at Duke Ellington Elementary on Detroit’s east side with 32 students.


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