Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack and his wife, Lisa, have announced they will donate $500,000 to the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation’s “b instrumental” program. The couple also donated 100 band and orchestra instruments, which were presented at a recent media event at North Side High School.

The “Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater Challenge” will match donations from the community and officially launches a $3 million fundraising campaign for “b instrumental.” Started two years ago, the program provides musical instruments free of charge to middle school students to use throughout high school, along with added instruction and other enrichment activities.

A successful campaign raising $3 million will allow the foundation to buy 4,000 to 5,000 instruments over 12 years, as well as cover refurbishing and repairs. The program will allow participation by students for whom purchasing or renting an instrument is not an option.

Chuck Surack, who is also an honorary chair of the campaign, said, “As a musician who got his start in FWCS music programs, I’ve experienced how important involvement in music education is to creating fully rounded and successful individuals.”

Surack also talked about the fact that his entire music education had come from Fort Wayne Community Schools, not having taken even a single private lesson. Today, he performs as many as 60 gigs a year with his Prime Time trio and the Sweetwater house band, the Sweetwater All-Stars.

FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson said the district has committed $1.5 million, in addition to the $3 million campaign, to the “b instrumental” program.

Bruce Schneider directs the FWCS “b instrumental” program.