Music Changes Lives!

aka A Child's Song   |   Thornton, CO   |  www.achildssong.org


A Child’s Song nurtures an appreciation for music while providing programs and education to share the developmental, healing, and social-emotional benefits of music for children and adults.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Sandy Taylor

Main address

12301 Grant St. Unit 200

Thornton, CO 80241-3031 USA

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NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Current neuroscience research explains that children involved in music education have a more expanded growth of neural activity than those not exposed to music training. Clearly the process of making music increases the brain's capacity by strengthening connections between neurons. Studies show that the cerebral cortex self-organizes as students participate in various musical endeavors. The earlier children are exposed to musical concepts, the more deeply the two halves of the brain connect. A research study reported in the Journal of Research in Music Education linked music instruction with math and English proficiency. In the elementary grades, “Students in top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs.” The middle school study found, “Students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 19% higher in English than students in schools without a music program.”

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Early Childhood Music & Movement Classes

Started in 2009; ongoing. (Served approximately 246 non-duplicated children in 2021 and will add another 160 children in the Fall of 2022 with a new preschool program.) Utilizing goals from the 2020 Colorado Academic Standards designed to prepare young children for Pre-school and Kindergarten success, ACS has developed and implemented a comprehensive music and movement curriculum for children birth-age six. This curriculum includes activities focused on language development, gross/fine motor skills, vestibular development, dance/movement exploration, and relaxation strategies. ACS instructors teach group classes that focus on parent-child interaction at the ACS Studio, group classes at local preschools, and training classes for local preschool instructors seeking to implement developmentally appropriate music/movement activities in their classrooms.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers

Started in 1999; ongoing. (Served approximately 150 unduplicated students in 2021.) Instruction in: Piano/Keyboard, Violin/Viola, Guitar/Bass Guitar, Wind, Drums, Voice/Drama, and Dance/Art. Students attend group, private, or a combination class. Parents participate in lessons and classes. For the 2021 calendar year, ACS provided a total of 28 youth with full/partial scholarships totaling $22,680.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Started in 2012 to fill a gap in music and arts education in K-8 schools. In 2021 ACS served almost 500 youth. Music educators from ACS currently provide after school classes at Meadow Community, York International School, and in 2022 added Welby Communty School. ACS also provides in-school music education at STEM Lab School.

The objectives are: (1) Every student will experience exceptional music education that surpasses traditional education models; (2) The program will become a model for other schools; and (3) Every student will have the opportunity to be proficient in at least one instrument by the time they leave the school at grade eight.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

ACS’s Reach & Teach program (R&T) provides music lessons and therapeutic music opportunities for youth living in poverty, youth in foster care, and/or those with learning differences. R&T instructors are trained to help youth who have experienced trauma and those who have complex learning needs; many instructors have special education backgrounds or are certified music therapists. COVID-19 has created a void in arts instruction for at-risk youth, and after several requests for expanded music programming, ACS has created tailored virtual and in-person music experiences for a variety of community partners. ACS served over 300 non-duplicated students through their R& T program in 2021.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Children and youth

Where we work


Maestro Award 2011

Kindermusik International

Founding Organization & Assessment Center 2012

Carnegie Hall Achievement Program

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Organizational objectives for 2020-2021 include:

• COVID-19 Recovery: At the beginning of the pandemic, ACS pivoted to provide virtual lessons in both individual and group scenarios. While some students are continuing online lessons with great success, in June, the organization returned to in-person lessons at the Studio. Preparing for this transition while complying with social distancing guidelines has increased costs for ACS related to cleaning requirements and purchases related to keeping students 6 feet apart. Additional instruments have been purchased to cut down on instrument sharing and ACS anticipates the need to purchase more instruments in the future when more in-person classes resume. ACS must raise additional funds for these COVID-19 related expenses which also include: technology upgrades; music equipment for students to use at home; staff training; health safeguards, and supplies.

• Online/Virtual Programs: COVID-19 has led ACS to develop new methods of connecting and teaching students. The nonprofit now teaches a variety of virtual classes for and individuals and groups. ACS developed music and movement video lessons for parents at the height of the pandemic; these classes were free and were designed to meet the developmental and psychological needs of at-risk youth and those with learning differences. The pandemic has opened ACS lessons to students in other states as parents seek safe, developmentally appropriate educational opportunities for their students virtually. The organization pivoted to hold recitals and jam sessions virtually, which has been an unexpected success. ACS is currently raising funds to develop a dedicated space at the Studio where instructors can teach virtually with all necessary technology. The nonprofit is also exploring additional course offerings surrounding music technology since the intersection of music and technology is an area of great interest for middle and high school students, and a class concept that can work well through virtual instruction.

• Evaluation Methodology Development: In conjunction with consultants from Social Venture Partners (SVP), (https://svpdenver.org/), a nonprofit linked to the Denver Foundation that provides pro-bono consulting to improve the organizational effectiveness of nonprofits, SVP consultants worked with ACS to develop comprehensive evaluation methodologies for R&T programs. A Pre – Post survey was developed to evaluate the new Shiloh World Drumming Pilot Program, the results of which will be available soon and will assist ACS as the organization moves forward with programs impacting larger numbers of foster youth.

• Sustainability/Student Retention/Underserved Outreach: Increase enrollment 25% each year for the next 5 years. 75% of students continue taking lessons from one year to the next. Continue expansion to foster/at-risk youth and Adams County’s low-income preschools and schools. Explore ability to bill insurance and Medicaid for music ther

Currently there are no music education or music therapy programs for youth in out-of-home placement or foster care in Colorado; however similar youth in other parts of the country are thriving in music programs provided by nonprofits. Play it Forward (https://www.fortheseventhgeneration.org/helping-our-foster-children-teens-enjoy-the-gift-of-music-play-it-forward/) provides instruments and connects displaced youth to instructors in Metro Detroit. Kids in a New Groove (KING) (http://kidsinanewgroove.org/) has mentored and provided over 600 foster youth in Central Texas with music experiences and lessons with incredible success. While less than half of the displaced/foster youth in Texas graduate from high school, youth in the KING program have all graduated from high school during the past 3 years of programming. Dawson Music Academy in Birmingham, AL (https://dawsonmusicacademy.org/foster/) also partners with foster care organizations and families to provide free lessons for youth, and the list continues, yet displaced, at-risk youth in Colorado have no music opportunities outside music in the school system which is why ACS has decided to expand to meet the needs of this population. The ultimate goal of ACS over the next three-five years is to develop scalable, mobile programming for foster/displaced/at-risk youth, as well as youth with learning differences, that could be used throughout CO and the US.

The ACS administrative staff and Board are proactive in strategic planning. Future plans include providing additional music classes in more local preschools, schools, and community centers, and to greatly increase collaborations within the community. ACS currently provides music classes in a Northeast Denver school that serves extremely low-income families. ACS is planning to serve more children in this category as well through additional outreach into at-risk Denver schools.

ACS is also working on succession planning as the organization’s founder and Executive Director nears retirement.

A Child's Song is a mature organization with skilled staff and leadership and sound financial management.
Our exceptional staff is highly credentialed with centuries of combined experience. We have an early childhood educator with 45+ years of experience and an MSW; she is able to bring therapy into the musical environment.

A Child's Song has more than 20 years of experience with a great history and firm foundation. We have a committed staff and board of directors and a beautiful facility.

ACS currently tracks the college and career trajectory of students in their programs through maintaining communication with those students and their families. One recent student, a young African American male with Autism, is attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA this fall, studying engineering and music. He and his parents credit ACS music programming with helping him socially, cognitively, and emotionally. ACS plans to develop a more formal “Alumni” tracking system for all youth impacted by its programming; ACS will send follow-up surveys to program participants to learn more about how music lessons and experiences impacted their lives and whether they are still involved with music.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Children and families, abled and disabled, all income levels, all races; however the past four years our focus has shifted to engage individuals and groups considered at-risk, people of color, and those with disabilities in music education.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We are utilizing intake surveys for students to gain information about any developmental or learning challenges so that ACS instructors can tailor instruction for each student and facilitate necessary accommodations or learning style preferences. ACS instructors also complete surveys to assess how accommodations are working, and notes about additional modifications made for teaching style and methods.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Gathering feedback from our participants is newer for our organization as we worked with a consultant to help us design instruments to use just before the pandemic hit. Due to the pandemic and needing to pivot and readjust our services, we have not had the time to implement all evaluation methods and to reflect on the feedback overall. We currently are utilizing feedback to tailor our educational experiences for each participant, and adjust as needed.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, The pandemic has affected our plans for collecting and utilizing feedback.,



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 03/21/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Andy Hall

Science & Technolody

Term: 2019 -

Marc Trost

Wells Fargo

Toby Gallegos

GRG Consulting

Andy Hall

Science and Technology

Michelle Reeves

Internal Medicine Hospitalist at Presbyterian/S. Luke’s Hospital

Mauri Taylor

Starbucks Barista

Sierra Taylor

Preschool Teacher Prestige Academy

Robert O'Brien

Director of IT Infrasstructure, Cordan Health Solutions

Lynn Wohler

Active Musician, Former Music Teacher, Aurora Public Schools

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/15/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.