ERIE, Pa. — In 2009, the Young People’s Chorus of Erie was founded with the mission that every child should have the opportunity to further his or her personal and artistic growth. Today, that mission continues to resonate, especially with Martha and Bill Hilbert.
“Music is such a valuable teaching tool, especially with children,” Martha Hilbert said. “It offers a sense of achievement while also helping to build imagination and creativity. YPC Erie helps young people, no matter what their socioeconomic circumstance, find their voice, making them more confident and positioning them for future success.”
The Hilberts recently affirmed their commitment to music education and the creative arts by making a $300,000 gift to the Young People’s Chorus of Erie, a youth outreach program of the School of Humanities at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and northwestern Pennsylvania’s only comprehensive youth choral music program.
The gift, which will be given twice annually in $50,000 increments, will allow YPC Erie to provide tuition assistance to more students and also help cover the cost of other program needs, such as chorister uniforms, sheet music, instruments and other supplies.
“YPC’s mission is an easy one to support, and we hope that others recognize that and considering giving as well,” Bill Hilbert said.
The tuition assistance is especially significant for the organization. Less than 10 percent of YPC Erie’s annual budget is funded by chorister tuition, but the organization adheres to a strict policy of not refusing a child who wants to sing, regardless of financial means.
“The impact of the Hilberts’ gift is enormous,” said Alyson Amendola, executive director of the Young People’s Chorus of Erie. “It enables us to offer a comprehensive choral music education to any child who wishes to participate. Their generosity directly links children to music and gives them a gift like no other. While every family pays something toward tuition, the gift from Martha and Bill plays a key role in attracting young people to a specialized program they otherwise would not be able to participate in due to tuition costs.”
The Hilberts have long been supporters of Penn State Behrend. Bill, the chairman of the board of PHB Corp. and Reddog Industries, Inc., is a member of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows.
YPC Erie brings together young singers from across Erie County. Since 2009, more than 1,200 students from more than 30 different public, private and parochial schools have benefitted from the program. Currently, more than 125 choristers participate in YPC Erie’s choirs.
For more information or to make a gift, visit behrend.psu.edu/ypcerie.