The Pittsburgh Foundation

$100,000 Mac Miller Fund grant to support YMCA youth music programs

Funding goes to Lighthouse Project in Homewood-Brushton

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 11, 2019-- A fund established last year at The Pittsburgh Foundation to honor the legacy of rapper Mac Miller has awarded $100,000 to music programs for teenagers and young adults at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA. The Mac Miller Fund was established at the Foundation by the family of the recording artist after his death at age 26 in September 2018.

The grant, which will be paid over a three-year period, will provide operating funds for The YMCA Lighthouse Project and for apprenticeships at Tuff Sound, a program operated at the YMCA that trains young adults to be sound engineers. Managers of the programs will host an open house Dec. 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.., when students may tour the facility and learn about upcoming programs. More details on the event are at the YMCA Lighthouse Facebook event page. High-resolution images of the YMCA Lighthouse Project and Tuff Sound Apprenticeships are available for media down load and use.

In a statement announcing the fund, the family said the purpose is to expand on the performer’s vision of giving access and opportunities to young people to explore the arts and to have a positive impact on communities across the country. “He cared very much about working to make the world a kinder place and we will continue to do just that,” family members stated.

The YMCA Lighthouse Project is a teen center where young people are encouraged to explore their interests in music, film, photography and visual arts. Led by experienced teaching artists for the past 13 years, the program offers project-based learning and creative expression to transform youth into confident leaders while building community and curiosity. Students choose from an array of programs including singing/songwriting, beat-making, podcasting, graphic design, photography and video, hip-hop dance and deejaying.

“These programs give young people a voice and empower them, through technical and transferable skills, for life after high school,” said James Brown, director of Creative Youth Development at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA. “There is a lot of emphasis [in the music business] on who is standing on the stage, but to build an industry, you also need people behind the scenes. We’re helping to grow the music industry in Pittsburgh by making sure young people of color from neighborhoods like Homewood are involved.”

All YMCA Lighthouse Project students have access to industry standard technology and software, studio time in a world class recording facility, a daily snack and dinner, transportation home within a 3-mile radius, presentation and performance opportunities across the city, and artist mentorship.

The Tuff Sound Apprenticeship Program is a year-long educational initiative based at the YMCA Lighthouse Project that teaches Pittsburgh’s young people ages 16 to 24 the art of audio engineering, mixing and production. Participants receive hands-on instruction from Herman Pearl, head engineer and owner of Tuff Sound Recording, and Amos Levy, music coordinator at The Lighthouse Project, on how to work in an industry-quality studio. The program begins with a 10-week intensive, where participants develop expertise in audio engineering and create their own portfolio of work. In the year that follows, Tuff Sound apprentices collaborate with local musicians, media makers and performers to hone their audio engineering technical skills.

Thanks to the grant, the program, which has been on hiatus since May 2017, now has funding for three years of apprenticeships and will serve about 30 young people between early next year and 2023. Recruitment begins Dec. 17 for the next class, which begins this spring.

The Lighthouse Project also has a partnership with the Community College of Allegheny County, which offers college-credit music technology courses to high school students. “Teens already hang out and learn here at the Y,” Brown said, and “by offering teens college-credit courses, we’re helping to tear down barriers facing young people by showing first-generation students that college is for them.”

About the Fund: The Mac Miller Fund now has raised nearly $1 million due to proceeds from the “Mac Miller: A Celebration of Life” concert presented last October and donations from the public. More information about The Mac Miller Fund, including how to contribute, may be found at