In 2005, KPLU launched its non-profit School of Jazz (SOJ) program as a way to support the next generation of local jazz musicians. The program aims to strengthen local music education by pairing professional jazz musicians with local high school jazz bands and groups.
The mentoring culminates in a professional recording session. And the end product is a CD, with sales benefitting local schools.The School of Jazz program is offered at no cost to 12-13 Western Washington high schools each year (ranging geographically from Bellingham to Olympia). The goal is to work with a range of schools and programs: those with award-winning bands; those that crave mentoring; and/or those that want the experience of recording a CD. Beginning with Volume 2 (2006), the project has included a core group of bands from the inaugural group with one or two new participating jazz bands/groups each year.
As a School of Jazz participant, schools are asked to work with their assigned professional mentor a minimum of three times; to pay their own way to Seattle for the one-day recording session; and to agree to sell and promote the School of Jazz CD as a means of raising money for its school or program and to also raise awareness for the SOJ.
The CD is also sold online at KPLU’s website and in retail outlets in the Puget Sound area. All net proceeds benefit local music education programs.
The SOJ is funded through support from organizations and sponsors. In 2011, funding included a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.