Program History

Program History


Neighborhood Strings began as the result of the musicians of WCMS questioning what could happen if we started a program connecting artists with underserved youth in the Main South neighborhood of Worcester. Growing out of this question, twelve years ago our musicians formed a partnership with Woodland Academy in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood.


2012-13: Program begins with group lessons once a week

2013-14: Program expands to 3 times a week. Includes private lessons, small ensemble and All Play Day. “NS Club”, a teen leadership group, is introduced

2014-15: Expansion includes a week of intensive summer musical activities that helped to meet the community need for productive, high-quality summer arts activities

2015-16: Scholarship is available for Neighborhood Strings students to attend WCMS’s Summer Chamber Music Camp.
Program expansion to a second community site, Seven Hills Charter Public School, located in downtown Worcester
serving a cross-section of Worcester children.

2016-17: Received prestigious 2017 Arts|Learning “Outstanding Community Arts Education Collaborative—Music” award. This award honors organizations and individuals who have developed model arts collaborative programs between school and community cultural resources.

2017-18:  Program serves 50 students. NS Teen Club receives Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Amplify grant for their community service project and were honored at a special Statehouse ceremony.

2018-19: Program serves 70 students. Added a third site at the Clark Street Elementary School working with new refugee children in the “New Citizens” program.

2019-20: Program serves 85 students. New partnership with the Main South Development Community Corporation (NS Teen Club site).

2020-21: COVID pandemic hits. Program remains open at the Main South CDC.

2021-2022: Program serves 90 students, full back in-person. Expansion to 4 days a week and 2 levels of ensemble, plus a one-week summer camp. Mentorship program grows, supported by Clark University’s Sweeny Program for Community Music Education.

2022-2023: Program serves 95 students at 4 program sites. Expansion to 5 days a week. Funding provided by Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA program.

2023-2024: Received $1,000,000 anonymous gift to support program expansion over 5 years. Expansion to 5 days a week and 3 levels of ensemble.