Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO)

A nonprofit organization

$10,385 raised by 47 donors

100% complete

$10,000 Goal

The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) nurtures, challenges, and inspires young minds through music -- profoundly changing lives and our community for the better. 

Since 1956, we have delivered participatory music education, promoting not only musical skills, but also cognitive, emotional, and social skills -- such as critical thinking, teamwork, and empathy, research shows -- that students will use to succeed in any walk of life. 

Our 40 ensemble and enrichment programs -- from symphonies, string orchestras, jazz, and steel-pan bands to music theory, composition, and international tours – provide high-quality experiences to youths with varying interests and skills. 

The largest after-school youth orchestra in the United States, MYSO yearly serves 800 musicians ages 8 to 18 from 250 schools and 60 communities in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. We reach another 5,000 children who attend our free Community Concert Series and 22,000 people, youths and adults, who attend formal concerts.

We are committed to promoting access, equity, diversity, and inclusion in music education:

  • Youths of color represent 50% of our enrollment -- up from just 12% two decades ago
  • 40% of our students receive financial aid 
  • 20% of our students come from low- to moderate-income Milwaukee neighborhoods, including ZIP codes 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53210, 53212, 53215, 53216, 53218, and 53233.

A core part of our mission, our award-winning and growing Community Partnership Programs target city youths who would not otherwise have access to music education because of barriers such as finances. In those programs:  

  • 70% of students are youths of color
  • 75% of students come from families with low to moderate incomes
  • 60% of students attend Milwaukee schools. 

MYSO makes an important impact, given limited music options in schools during a time of budget constraints -- and the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and parents are increasingly turning to MYSO, especially as the pandemic has led to isolation among children, who need the benefits of our program more than ever.  

We never turn away a student because of finances. We charge low membership fees that cover just a fraction of the cost, and we offer financial aid for participation, private lessons, transportation, instruments, and summer camps. 
More community support is critical to meet the great and growing needs for our programs and financial aid – and to keep our promise to youths and our community. 

When you support MYSO, you open a world to children like Karina.

A violinist, Karina just finished fourth grade and -- thanks to donors like you -- graduated from our Progressions program for third- and fourth-graders. 

“My favorite thing about MYSO is learning music while our skills, confidence, and talent continue to grow,” Karina says. “MYSO is a safe place where we can express our love for music.”

Progressions -- a string training program in which Karina learned the fundamentals of music -- is MYSO’s flagship Community Partnership Program. These programs bring music education to hundreds of Milwaukee youths -- who normally wouldn’t have access to it.

We’re expanding our Community Partnership Programs in response to the great and growing need -- enrolling more young musicians in Progressions and introducing the Prelude Wind Ensemble in 2022-23. The Prelude Wind Ensemble -- a woodwind, brass, and percussion program similar to Progressions -- will serve Milwaukee students in fifth and sixth grades. But we can’t do it without you.

Please help Karina and other young musicians succeed in MYSO--and life--with a gift today. 

Organization Data


Organization name

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO)

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture


325 W WALNUT ST 325 W. Walnut St



Social Media