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Creating Joy, One Ukulele at a Time

photo of student with big check

When East Grand Rapids High School Students Jemma Doublestein and Olivia Miller were in elementary school, the Foundation–thanks to our donors–supplied sets of ukuleles to 5th graders. Now that Doublestein and Miller are in high school, they want to share the fun of the instrument with other students through the Ukulele Club.

“Our goal with the Ukulele Club starts and ends with getting students more involved with music,” Doublestein and Miller wrote in their grant application. “There are so many opportunities for students to participate seriously in a music program at East Schools whether it be through band, orchestra, choir, or the drama program, but with this club we wanted to offer a more stress-free alternative. The programs offered at East are great for students who want to put in the time and dedication to master an instrument, but this is sometimes intimidating to teens who just want to experiment or try out learning music. 

“Music is proven to have a positive effect on students' mental health and we aim to make this benefit accessible to everyone, not just serious musicians. The goals for this club are difficult to achieve without the proper equipment. Most of the people who participate in this club are already in possession of a ukulele, but there are many students who don’t. As previously stated, the aim of this club is to be accessible to any student, regardless of whether or not they have a ukulele.”

In their application, Doublestein and Miller also pointed out that the Ukulele Club fills an important need for some students. “ In a school that emphasizes ‘excellence,’ the goal of this club is to become a place that offers some low-pressure creativity and fun, and doesn’t require mastery,” they wrote. “This grant will help embody all of these goals by offering a space for people who have all levels of interest and skill concerning the ukulele, and don't have goals of competing or ‘winning.’ This grant will help these goals in a very big way by providing the instruments needed.”

When their grant was approved, Doublestein was thrilled. “These ukuleles will benefit EGRHS students by allowing people who don’t have a ukulele to participate in this club,” says Doublestein. “The main purpose of our club is to create joy and growth through learning about and making music and this grant will help us do that!”