The Mountain Folk Scholarship fund grows with the help of friends


For nearly 100 years, the Reading Musical Foundation has provided quiet support to thousands of students, parents, families and musicians throughout its existence.

The organization is led by President Keri Shultz and a team of Loretta Campbell and part-time team member Mike Butterbaugh. Along with a family of board members, friends, donors and sponsors, the foundation has managed assets in the order of $8 million, bequests, grants, scholarships, decisions, music programs in schools, community outreach and engagement activities, support for other creative and successful organizations. in our community, advocacy for county-wide music education programs and much more.

Part of the longevity of the Reading Musical Foundation rests on the fact that during its formative years, the forward-thinking people who created and endowed it saw music as an essential element of good quality living in Reading and Berks County.

To this end, the founders of the RMF created and bequeathed an endowment fund which remunerates the administrative staff of the RMF forever. This means that if you donate to the Reading Musical Foundation, no dollars will be used to pay the salaries and benefits of the 2 1/2 hard-working staff.

Every penny you donate goes directly to funding music students, various outreach programs, and funding other musical, artistic, and creative individuals and organizations in Berks County only. In a world where we often learn that so-called non-profit organizations are not what they seem, with administrative staff earning millions of dollars in salaries, perks and benefits. , I find it very organic, soothing, refreshing and motivating to know that the RMF is doing what it says it is doing without any donor withdrawals to support the lavish salaries and benefits of senior staff.

This kind of “let them eat cake” mentality is what eventually becomes heavy enough to bring down even what appears to be the most powerful of organizations. I give to the Reading Musical Foundation for reasons that include agreeing with the founders’ vision for quality of life, the ability to see the mission in action here at Berks, ensuring that the organization’s assets are not not badly managed or appropriated for exorbitant staff salaries, benefits or tax splurges, and I give because music is oxygen to me. I want to do my part to help as many others as possible benefit from its life-changing benefits.

Two members of the RMF board of directors approached me when I was in my twenties. Somehow understanding my penchant and calling for music, they asked me to become a board member of the Reading Musical Foundation. That was over 40 years ago, and I’m still involved in the RMF.

Along the way, I was able to work with attorney Tom Work to create the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund, and I funded it with income from my career in radio, newspapers, television, performing in direct, money from record and CD sales and a little help from my friends whenever someone chose to donate to the fund and its mission. This particular fund is just one of many that the RMF manages skillfully. It is designed to help students interested in guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass fiddle, autoharp, dulcimer, dobro, and other acoustic instruments as they pursue their passion for learning the Appalachian music, Celtic music, bluegrass, folk, mountain, world and ethnic music. .

We have built the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund up to approximately $70,000, and a percentage of this amount is awarded to students on an annual basis. My goal for the fund is to grow it to over $100,000, which will ensure it should continue to help students long after I’m gone.

Our family has also created a bequest for the RMF and the fund, so that when I one day fly to that golden shore, a percentage of my residual wealth will be donated to the RMF and the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund. Creating a bequest is very simple. RMF staff can help you, and the sense of satisfaction you will get, knowing that what you have worked so hard for in your life, which is at the very core of your personal belief and value system, will transcend your existence. deadly and will benefit others. as they in turn work to improve the lives of others through music, is priceless.

In September, I enjoyed hosting the Open Mic stage at Berks Fiddle Fest at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Longswamp Township. We had a fantastic day and I was again asked to drive to Bear Creek to accept a donation check for Bear Creek’s Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund and Berks Fiddle Fest.

Shultz and I met with Berks Fiddle Fest organizer Larry Ross, along with Maria King of Bear Creek, events and activities manager, and Arielle Hess, marketing project manager, and they gave the RMF and the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund a check for $500. It’s a gift that speaks well of the festival and the station’s desire to engage in community and development. It will directly benefit music students, which we at RMF are very grateful for.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the beautiful wood and stone lodge at Bear Creek.

Shultz, speaking to the people of Bear Creek and Berks Fiddle Fest, said, “The Reading Musical Foundation thanks Berks Fiddle Festival and Bear Creek Mountain Resort for keeping folk music alive in our community. This investment goes beyond just a day of great music to provide annual scholarships for local folk musicians to begin or continue their own journey with music.

Ross explained why he thinks these donations are important.

“As the organizer of Berks Fiddle Fest, I am thrilled with the relationship that exists between Bear Creek Mountain Resort, the Reading Musical Foundation and the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund,” he said. “We all share the same goal of education, awareness and appreciation of music in Berks County.”

“RMF does wonders for kids, and we’re proud to work with them to help provide another stage for local music in Berks County,” Hess said. “The goal of hosting the Berks Fiddle Fest in Bear Creek is to help preserve American folk music. Having partners like the Reading Musical Foundation and the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund makes that possible.

“Our partnership with the Berks Fiddle Fest helps preserve historic and cultural music that will be passed down from generation to generation.”

King thanked us for coming to meet them in person, then went on to say, “As this is my first year as an events and activities manager at Bear Creek and I’m new to Berks Fiddle Fest for the first times, it is an honor to keep the spirit of music education advancing in Berks County.

“Music is an important part of our lives in so many ways and being able to help celebrate that by continuing to promote programs that encourage and enrich life in the local community is incredibly important.”

Another unique RMF donation program called Operation Replay accepts unwanted musical instruments, which are then refurbished and assigned to students in need of an instrument.

Just the day before the check was accepted at Bear Creek, Shultz and I had a wonderful meeting with members of the Kelly Automotive Group team in Hamburg, who made a substantial donation to RMF’s Operation Replay to that we can continue our work on behalf of Berks. County music students who need an instrument to fuel their dreams and passion.

The Reading Musical Foundation has just launched its 2022-23 annual fundraising campaign. If you would like to become a friend of ours and support our mission in Berks County, call RMF at 610-376-3395 or use the online donation portal on the RMF website at

You can choose from many donation options, including general donations to support music or support from specific funds like the Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund. If you choose to donate to the Mountain Folk Fund, I will contact you to thank you for being a friend of traditional folk music and culture. You can also donate anonymously, but I prefer to know who you are so I can respond to you with gratitude.

Dave Kline is an award-winning writer, photographer, host and producer, singer-songwriter, travel guide and community advocate. Contact him at [email protected]


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