Bright Futures instruments


Renata Poet Williams

CPS asks for donated instruments to youth in need

Following the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, the non-profit organization Bright Futures was established after a social media outpour in order for the community to involve outside help to fulfill children’s necessities.
Their goal, according to, is to “engage businesses, human service agencies, faith-based organizations and parent groups…to meet the needs of children so every child can be successful, now and in the future.”
As a result of Bright Futures’ success, CPS kicked off their very own Bright Futures Columbia Jan. 1 as a way to connect the community with the needs of students.
“Our focus is on AEO: Achievement, Enrichment, and Opportunity — access to an excellent education,” CPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman said. “Our community does an amazing job of eliminating barriers for students, especially when it comes to basic needs.”
In collaboration, Dr. Stiepleman, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Ben Tilley and Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dr. Jolene Yoakum started the Bright Futures Columbia journey. They looked at student needs that “slip through the crack,” according to Department of Fine Arts coordinator James Melton.
“We felt like we were losing kids to playing in band or orchestra,” Melton said, “because they might not feel like they can because they can’t afford it or they don’t have access [or] they just don’t feel like it’s an option for them.”
To begin the endeavour, Bright Futures Columbia has asked for instrument donations.
“We want children enrolling in music and art and athletics and practical arts,” Stiepleman said. “We’re starting with music.”
Freshman trumpet player Evan Borst said it was a great way to get students into the arts.
“It would be a lot better because there are some people who are like, ‘No, I don’t want to go get that instrument,’” Borst said.
Instead of taking the cheaper option of renting an instrument, sophomore Christian Candia, who has been playing since 7th grade, bought his trumpet. Candia said it was roughly $500 to $600 and though his parents were able to purchase his instrument, he believed the call for instrument donations was important to future musicians.
“It’s a lifetime commitment to play an instrument,” Candia said. “I think it would benefit it greatly because people who can’t afford the instruments and who could have potential to be really good, wouldn’t be able to do it.”
There are no requirements to donate an instrument. The CPS Board office accepts donations. Instruments can also be brought to instrument enrollment nights at the middle schools.
“As students enroll in music classes, we will be able to help students overcome barriers that have traditionally existed,” Dr. Stiepleman said.
Candia said it’s important to bring the arts into schools not just around Columbia, but also the nation.
“Band isn’t just about making music,” Candia said. “It’s also very involved with teamwork and leadership, and it has different aspects of life into it. There are friendships made in band.”