Creating positive change through music and arts education

Santa Monica, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 20-8568061


In 2007, the Playing for Change Foundation was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. Our mission is to create positive change through music and arts education. As one of our students in Nepal stated, "Music is an indispensable part of life -‐ you cannot live without music." We couldn't agree more. At the Playing For Change Foundation, we live our lives by this principle and apply it to everything we do.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Jake Groshong

Main address

171 Pier Avenue #271

Santa Monica, CA 90405 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Arts exchange

Performing arts


Youth organizing

Population served info

Children and youth

People of Asian descent

People of African descent

People of Latin American descent


NTEE code info

Performing Arts (A60)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Playing For Change Foundation is a global nonprofit organization offering creative opportunities for marginalized and at-risk youth, most specifically in the developing world. Our programs are located in communities that are rich in culture but often limited in economic resources. In most cases, the children we serve would not have access to music education were it not for PFC Foundation programs, as we work in remote rural areas, large urban slums, and inner-city schools. Our programs use music to address social challenges children and youth of all genders are facing locally, including human trafficking, violence, poverty, and many more, and also help meet other essential needs of the larger community, including the provision of aid such as food, clean water, medicine, clothes, books, school supplies, solar energy, computers, and other modern technology.

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?

Programs in Africa

Playing For Change Foundation has five programs in five countries across Africa: L'Ecole de musique de Kirina in Mali, Bizung School of Music and Dance in Ghana, Ubuntu Music Program in Rwanda, Imvula Music Program in South Africa, and Joudour Sahara Music Program in Morocco. L'Ecole de musique de Kirina offers a dynamic music and dance program to 200 students, offering classes in kora, djembe, balafon, dance and tama, as well as language classes in French and English and an evening class program where teachers from the public school are coming each week to the music school to give extra lessons in English, French, and Sciences. The Bizung School of Music & Dance is located in Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana, and offers music and dance classes that are rooted in the traditional style of Northern Ghana. Children have a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn, as well as opportunities to share their cultural and musical traditions with other children around the world. The Ubuntu Music Program currently provides music education in 2 different schools located in Masaka and Kigali. Four qualified music teachers provide music and dance lessons to 150 children between 8 and 20 years old.

The first Playing For Change Foundation music school, which was located in the South African township of Gugulethu, has expanded to multiple locations in the area, and is now called the Imvula Music Program. Students in the Imvula Music Program are learning marimba, vocals, drums, saxophone and keyboard/piano as well as dance. The Joudour Sahara Music Program is located in M’hamid el Ghizlane, the last oasis town in the historic southern Draa Valley in southeastern Morocco, a key stop along the salt and gold caravan routes for nomads coming from Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, and further south from other regions of Africa. The music program focuses on preserving this rich cultural heritage, holding weekly traditional music classes among the Chamra, Ganga, Ahidous, and Rokba music traditions, reaching up to 60 youth through traditional programming.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People of African descent

Playing For Change Foundation has seven programs in three countries in Asia. In Nepal, we have five programs: Kathmandu Music Program, Musica Music Institute, Udayapur Music Program, Tintale Education Foundation, and Tintale Mother's Society. We also have the Mirpur Music Program in Bangladesh, and Paintbrush Arts Program in Thailand.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People of Asian descent

Playing For Change Foundation has five programs in four countries in Latin America: Cajuru Music Program in Brazil, Redes 2025 in Mexico, PFC Patagonia and PFC Diamante in Argentina, and Cahuita Music Program in Costa Rica.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People of Latin American descent

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Polar Prize 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The average number of children and youth enrolled in free classes across all programs per week.

Number of teachers retained after 12 months

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The number of teachers and staff members across all programs.

Hours of programing delivered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Hours of work created per year

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.

In our ongoing effort to connect the world through music, our direction has been shaped by where we have been and by those who have inspired us along the way. The focus of our organization has evolved and expanded from giving children and young people in at-risk communities access to music education, into using the introduction and integration of music and arts education into their lives to resolve conflict and raise self-esteem, freedom of expression, and potential of advancement in the development of the child and community. We strive to continue progress and foster sustainability with schools currently in development; establish valuable partnerships and collaborations; expand the opportunities and resources available to communities in need; be an access point for various forms of aid, including clean water, electricity, and medical resources; and last but not least, create positive change through music education.

Music education gives children and young people access to unique ways of developing and displaying their knowledge. Music draws on multiple intelligences, and accommodates a variety of learning styles. When children play music together, collaboration increases and conflict is reduced. Learning music has also been shown to increase self-esteem and foster resilience, which is critically important to children who are vulnerable due to poverty, conflict, drugs, and neglect. PFCF’s programs emphasize tolerance and shared understanding as methods for solving problems. Children in different countries and schools learn about and get to know peers who live in dramatically different regions and circumstances through exchange of information. In order to empower the local community, we use local materials and labor when building, utilize local staff and provide living wages, and create opportunities for earned income while also letting them tell their own stories using the technology we provide.

PFCF has led music programs in challenged regions for nearly 10 years. We collaborate with experts and organizations across different sectors, and, most importantly, the beneficiaries, to design solutions using the power of music. The schools and programs are led and affirmed by local village and community leaders, empowering administrators at each location to address the unique needs of their students and teachers, and adjust as needed. Our administrative staff provide support to the local program leaders by disbursing resources each program needs to be able to grow, conducting global and community outreach, connecting donors with projects they are passionate about in order to encourage continued support, helping with curriculum development, and pursuing partnerships to strengthen and benefit the organization as a whole.

After 10 years of work, PFCF has created 15 music programs in 11 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina and Thailand. More than 2,000 young people attend free classes in dance, instruments, languages and musical theory, all taught by qualified local teachers. At the moment, over 15,000 people have been impacted by PFCF’s community development and empowerment efforts throughout our program regions and beyond. Aside from providing music and arts education, we have also established special projects based on the specific need of the communities, such as raising awareness against human and sex trafficking in Nepal and providing clean water in Mali, among other things.

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 shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • 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

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    The feedback we receive helps us identify where there are gaps, concerns, and areas we need to put more time and investment, initiatives and other methods that are working and not working. We learn about the challenges, but also discover the positive progress of the students, the beautiful sounds from the young people and teachers we work with. We use our curiosity to dig deeper and work together to make improvements and assess the realities of our challenges and the programs' needs. We continue to work on and strive to grow and improve how we listen and share feedback from our in-country staff and the children and communities we serve.

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

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 3.15 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.4 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 4% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

Source: IRS Form 990 info


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

This snapshot of PLAYING FOR CHANGE FOUNDATION’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$5,269 $69,409 $21,367 $27,756 $120,806
As % of expenses -0.6% 9.7% 2.4% 2.2% 6.9%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$5,269 $69,409 $21,367 $27,756 $120,806
As % of expenses -0.6% 9.7% 2.4% 2.2% 6.9%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $976,368 $784,903 $959,885 $1,264,083 $1,870,331
Total revenue, % change over prior year 42.8% -19.6% 22.3% 31.7% 48.0%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.3%
All other grants and contributions 100.0% 100.0% 98.8% 100.0% 96.7%
Other revenue 0.0% 0.0% 1.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $835,820 $716,715 $887,137 $1,236,338 $1,749,525
Total expenses, % change over prior year 15.8% -14.3% 23.8% 39.4% 41.5%
Personnel 18.4% 10.4% 22.6% 31.4% 44.6%
Professional fees 27.2% 24.8% 31.9% 30.7% 23.2%
Occupancy 6.0% 0.8% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.9%
All other expenses 48.4% 64.0% 45.4% 37.9% 29.3%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total expenses (after depreciation) $835,820 $716,715 $887,137 $1,236,338 $1,749,525
One month of savings $69,652 $59,726 $73,928 $103,028 $145,794
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $905,472 $776,441 $961,065 $1,339,366 $1,895,319

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Months of cash 0.9 0.2 2.2 3.0 5.5
Months of cash and investments 0.9 0.2 2.2 3.0 5.5
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 1.3 2.7 2.4 2.0 2.3
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cash $61,723 $11,545 $160,623 $307,234 $807,116
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $45,367 $182,258 $112,328 $325,164 $164
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $0 $0 $57,725 $57,725 $57,725
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 14.8% 17.7% 33.8% 67.0% 68.0%
Unrestricted net assets $90,048 $159,457 $180,824 $208,580 $329,386
Temporarily restricted net assets $1,444 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $1,444 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total net assets $91,492 $159,457 $180,824 $208,580 $329,386

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Chief Executive Officer

Jake Groshong

A longtime fan and proud member of the Playing for Change team, Jake couldn’t be happier to help lead this incredible organization since 2019. With a Master’s Degree in Arts Leadership, and having worked over fifteen years in the arts and arts education, he has had the pleasure of working with major artists and helping those children most in need around the globe through the arts. Most recently prior to working for Playing for Change, Jake worked as Executive Director of Josh Groban’s Find Your Light Foundation, helping to dramatically expand their reach and impact. Music and the arts are one of our greatest tools to help kids in need and create social impact. Jake is honored to work with such an incredible group of people and help grow Playing for Change in size, scope, and impact.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 02/08/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Whitney Kroenke Silverstein

Partner, Kroenke Foundation

Carolyn Glick

Archie Drury

Henry "Hank" Dudgeon III

Karen Korponai

Ronnie Madra

Jamal Mashburn

Arturo Nunez

Pamela Silva

Josh Taekman

Louis Upkins

Byron Ward

Sean Wolfington

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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • 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 2/8/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data


Fiscal year ending

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser