OPUS 118

 New York, N.Y. – Whether it has been music, dance or art, culture has always been an integral and essential part of Upper Manhattan.  As such the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. (UMEZ), through its Cultural Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), seeks to develop and build mid-size organizations in Upper Manhattan that have been identified as cultural assets to their community. 

 On Monday, June 9th, UMEZ awarded Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, a $150,000 grant to assist in strengthening the school’s infrastructure and simultaneously increasing community outreach and involvement.  With these goals in mind, the school intends to increase both contributed and earned revenue; and achieve a greater presence in Harlem through performances at community venues and public, community events.

 “UMEZ’s grant to Opus 118 Harlem School of Music will allow it to further improve upon an outstanding and internationally heralded reputation as one of the finest educational institutions of its kind,” said Kenneth J. Knuckles, UMEZ’s President & CEO.

 Maurine Knighton, UMEZ’s Senior Vice-President for Program and Nonprofit Investments said, “Opus 118 is an essential Upper Manhattan cultural organization. We are pleased to count them among the impressive array of local cultural producers and look forward to partnering with them in the weeks and months to come.”

ABOUT THE Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone  DEVELOPMENT CORP.


UMEZ seeks to revitalize distressed communities by using geographically targeted public funds and tax incentives as catalysts for private investment. In Upper Manhattan, the communities that lie within the Empowerment Zone's borders include Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.


 UMEZ’s CIIF celebrates Upper Manhattan’s rich past while creating new legacies.  The work of the CIIF is two-fold:  community building through a cultural and economic lens; and, a marketing of place that repositions Upper Manhattan as one of New York City’s primary cultural districts.  The goals of the CIIF are sustaining the local economy by promoting development, revitalization and tourism; making strategic cultural investments; and, strengthening the cultural ecosystem.

 The CIIF provides support to cultural organizations that use the arts as a tool for economic development, job creation and growth of cultural tourism, within the five communities of Upper Manhattan.  Primary means of support include funding and provision of technical assistance.


            Opus 118 Harlem School of Music is a Harlem-based community music school that provides high-quality music instruction to over 600 students each year through In-School, After-School, and summer camp programs.  It was founded in 1991 by Roberta Guaspari, Harvard Educator Ed Miller, authors Barry Crumbly and Ellen Weiss, and parents Gene Horton and Dani Toomer. Impelled by budget cuts that would eliminate the public school violin program Ms. Guaspari had conducted for many years in East Harlem elementary schools, these six decided to create a private, nonprofit organization to save the program and to continue to serve public school students in low-income areas.

 In the 15 years since its founding, Opus 118 has provided instruction to some 5,000 students and given significant cultural enrichment opportunities to students, their families, and others in the Harlem community through public performances and other cultural activities.  Moreover, the national visibility of Opus 118 has brought positive attention to Harlem:  In addition to the two films that have been produced about Opus 118, appearances outside of Harlem and internationally broadcasted events and features about the organization have fostered perceptions of Harlem as an exciting, vibrant community that values and celebrates its residents.



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March 2014
Win8 logo
UMEZ upgrades to Microsoft Windows 8.1
Biennial Report 2011-2012
Biennial cover pg 2011-2012
Biennial Report 2011-2012
Nov 6, 2012
June 26, 2012
Career Opportunities in Healthcare Program
Jul. 25, 2012: BRISC loan recipient, Jado Wine Bar & Sushi opens in Harlem
Jul. 25, 2012: Jado Sushi

October 17, 2011
October 17, 2011
Dec. 15, 2010
Dec. 15, 2010
Dance Theatre of Harlem receives UMEZ grant
Dec. 14, 2010
Dec. 15, 2010
Verdery Roosevelt appointed Senior Vice President
November 22, 2010
November 22, 2010
Award-winning master stylist Maisha Teacher opens Bibi Salon
November 10, 2010
November 10, 2010
Harlem Vintage receives BRISC loan
November 9, 2010
November 9, 2010
Hope Community receives grant
September 27, 2010
September 27, 2010
UMEZ teams with Grameen America
July 22, 2010
Ken Grand Opening
Grand Opening of East River Plaza
April 16, 2010
April 16, 2010
Morris-Jumel Mansion receives grant
March 15, 2010
March 15, 2010
Acelero Learning, Inc. receives BRISC loan
March 5, 2010
b yet
Best Yet Market opens in Harlem
Jan. 20, 2010
Jan. 20, 2010
Gemini II Specialty Boutique receives retail incentive loan
Dec. 13, 2009
Island Salad Opening
Island Salad receives BRISC loan
Sept. 30, 2009
Sept. 30, 2009
Caribbean Cultural Center receives UMEZ grant
Aug. 18, 2009
Patane Press receives retail incentive loan
Jun. 16, 2009
Harlem Masters
Harlem Masters receives forgivable loan
Mar. 17,2009
Mar. 17,2009
Watkins Health Foods receives forgivable loan
Feb. 2, 2009
Pollen Nation
Pollen Nation receives BRISC loan
Jan. 28, 2009
Jazzmobile check
UMEZ underwrites Jazzmobile's future
Jan. 13, 2009
Island Salad Check
Island Salad receives BRISC loan
Nov. 3, 2008
Nov. 3, 2008
UMEZ provides funding for new health care careers initiative
East Harlem Cafe celebrates grand opening.
Aug. 26, 2008
Dagaz check
BRISC loan is a custom fit for Dagaz
Jun.26, 2008
Taller Boricua receives UMEZ grant
Jun. 24, 2008
Manhattan Neighborhood Network awarded UMEZ grant
Jun. 11, 2008
Jun. 11
Empowerment Zone awards $150,000 grant to Opus 118
May 30, 2008
Hope Co mmunity pic
UMEZ grant for Hope Community, Inc
Apr. 7, 2008
Apr. 15
Studio Museum receives multi-year grant
Mar. 14, 2008
Plum Pomidor Restaurant awarded BRISC loan
Mar. 13, 2008
Mar. 25
BRISC loan helps Citicare move to new location & purchase equipment
Feb.13, 2008
Alianza Dominicana breaks ground for new headquarters
Feb.12, 2008
Fishers of Men II Reels in BRISC Loan

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