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Mac Miller Fund Gives Local Music Education Nonprofit Opportunity To Expand

Rap star and Pittsburgh native Malcom McCormick, who went by the stage name Mac Miller, died one year ago this month. After his death, a benefit concert and donations raised more than $935,000, which Miller’s family used to create theMac Miller Fund.

The fund dispersed its first round of grants in May, awarding $50,000 to the local arts nonprofit, Hope Academy of Music and the Arts in East Liberty. An additional $50,000 was given to establish MusiCares Mac Miller Legacy Fund, which is meant “to help young adults dealing with substance abuse.”

Hope Academy Director Linda Addlespurger said the organization was surprised to hear it had been selected, but understands why Miller’s family chose it.

“I would expect that an organization in Pittsburgh that provides music education would be interesting to Mac Miller’s family,” Addlespurger said. “Mac Miller, as a young person, learned how to play music here in Pittsburgh.”

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh artist Akil says "Say Less, Do More" was a motto for the late rapper Mac Miller. People from around the city were invited to add to the mural at the corner of Paulson Avenue and Auburn Street.

Miller was 26 years old when he died of an accidental drug overdose in Studio City, Calif. on Sept. 7, 2018. His death was mourned around the world, as well as locally at Blue Slide Park, the playground in Frick Park made famous after Miller’s named his 2011 debut album after it.

Addlespurger said the funds will go toward expanding Hope Academy’s Suzuki music program.

“We’re expanding from violin and cello,” Addlespurger said. “The Mac Miller Fund is allowing us to add guitar and flute.”

The afterschool arts nonprofit serves about 400 students, and Addlespurger said about half of its spots are reserved for low-income students, or those “whose identity reflects a racial, cultural or ethnic minority.”

That was appealing to Miller’s family, said Pittsburgh Foundation Director of the Center of Philanthropy Kelly Uranker.

Credit Renee Rosensteel / Hope Academy of Music and the Arts
Hope Academy of Music and the Arts
Students practice cello during a lesson at Hope Academy of Music and the Arts in East Liberty.

“We did a site visit to Hope Academy with the family and they were very struck by the diversity of the program, the commitment to the community,” Uranker said. “That struck a chord with them.”

The next round of grants from the Mac Miller Fund is expected to be announced in November.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.