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Shelter Music Boston, Inc.

 243 Sylvia Street
 Arlington, MA 02476
[P] (617) 605-3415
[F] --
Carrie Eldridge-Dickson
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 27-4269849

LAST UPDATED: 03/01/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Shelter Music Boston presents classical chamber music concerts, of the highest artistic standards, in Boston homeless shelters. These performances promote community, creative interaction, respect, and therapeutic benefit for shelter guests.  Shelter Music Boston believes all people deserve access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of classical music whether or not they have a home.

Mission Statement

Shelter Music Boston presents classical chamber music concerts, of the highest artistic standards, in Boston homeless shelters. These performances promote community, creative interaction, respect, and therapeutic benefit for shelter guests.  Shelter Music Boston believes all people deserve access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of classical music whether or not they have a home.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $218,900.00
Projected Expense $203,936.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Classical chamber music concerts in Boston homeless shelters

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Shelter Music Boston presents classical chamber music concerts, of the highest artistic standards, in Boston homeless shelters. These performances promote community, creative interaction, respect, and therapeutic benefit for shelter guests.  Shelter Music Boston believes all people deserve access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of classical music whether or not they have a home.

Background Statement

In May of 2010, Shelter Music Boston (SMB) began to perform monthly classical chamber music concerts at the Shattuck Emergency Shelter.  To date SMB has provided monthly concerts to the Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center (closed in 2012), Rosie’s Place, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, Crittenton Women's Union, Hope House Addiction Services, and Women's Lunch Place.  Our 2016 partners are Caspar Emergency Shelter, Community Day Center of Waltham, Lifebridge of Salem, My Sister's House and Women's Renewal of Dimock Center, Pine Street Men's and Women's Inns, and PSI-Shattuck Shelter. 

May 15, 2014, marked the four-year anniversary of SMB concerts at the Shattuck Emergency Shelter (now run by Pine Street Inn). 

Our December 2015 concerts marked our 250th performance.
In February 2016 we begin our partnership with LIfebridge of Salem, providing our first concerts to the North Shore region of Greater Boston.

Shelter Music Boston concerts reach 150-200 homeless shelter guests each month. SMB is the only organization of its kind in the Boston area as well as nationally. Integral to the program’s remarkable success is the fact that the same professional musicians return again and again to the shelters, building trust and respect in the shelter, as they become known to the shelter guests and staff.

Impact Statement


1.      Increased the number of shelters served monthly to seven, reaching 150-200 homeless individuals monthly and 1500-2000 homeless individuals annually.
2.     Increased the Shelter Music Boston Board by two members.
3.     Featured in: Massachusetts Cultural Council "Creative Minds Out Loud 2016 Podcast, for providing classical chamber music concerts of the highest artistic standards as a social service.
4.  Mentoring of  Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory,  and Longy School of Bard College in providing classical chamber music as a social service to environments of great need. 
5.  Received the following comment from a homeless individual attending a concert at Caspar Shelter, "I think you saved a life with this concert. I was so angry and frustrated when I came in here tonight, I didn't know what I was going to do. The music changed it all. Thank you."


1.     Obtain renewable funding for live classical chamber music concerts to be produced in Greater Boston shelters annually.

2.     Create strategic plan for the next five years.

3.     Grow and diversify the Shelter Music Boston Board of Directors.

4.     Hire a Managing Director.

5.     Create a training protocol for additional teams of professional musicians to enable Shelter Music Boston to expand the program while maintaining the current performance standards and regularity of shelter concerts.

Needs Statement

1.     Obtaining renewable program funding of $50,000 or more annually to serve all organizations currently reaching out to Shelter Music Boston for services.

2.     Board members from diverse communities of Boston with passion for the arts and a wide range of skill sets.

3.     Capacity building funding of $50,000 to grow operations staff.

CEO Statement

Shelter Music Boston concerts bring calm and community to chaotic and volatile shelter environments.  Monthly classical music concerts draw disparate community members together to share an hour of the creativity and passion of music performed to a high artistic standard.  The consistent result of Shelter Music Boston concerts is improved atmosphere and interaction in the shelter.  Shelter guests sleep better following concerts and there is less conflict in shelter after performances.  Staff report that the intellectual and emotional stimulation of the concerts improves morale in shelters. These remarkable results are achieved in Boston shelters every month during SMB concerts. "The music was water for my soul when it was thirsty," said an audience member after a PSI - Shattuck Shelter concert. This is the work of citizen artists in the 21st century: Shelter Music Boston leads the way.

Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- South End/Bay Village
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- Jamaica Plain
City of Boston- Allston/ Brighton
In addition to our concerts in Boston neighborhoods, we serve shelters in Cambridge, Salem, and Waltham, MA.

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Performing Arts
  2. Human Services - Homeless Services/Centers
  3. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Music

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Under Development


Classical chamber music concerts in Boston homeless shelters

Monthly live classical chamber music concerts in Boston homeless shelters to promote a respectful, stimulating, interactive community experience for shelter guests who have little to no access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of classical music.
Budget  $120,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Musical Performances
Population Served Homeless At-Risk Populations Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

In the short term, homeless shelter guests who participate in our program will:

·  discover or rediscover music as a source of pleasure and inspiration

·  feel happier, calmer and less stressed
·  engage in less conflict in the shelters
·  sleep better
·  interact more positively with one another and shelter staff
·  experience increased confidence
·  feel hopeful about the future
Shelter Music Boston audience surveys consistently reflect the results of research being done on the benefits of listening to music.  The Music and Neuroimaging Lab at Harvard Medical School has shown that listening to music can modulate mood, behavior, and cognition.  Studies done at the Cleveland Clinic and Duke Cancer Institute have shown that listening to music can reduce insomnia, anxiety and depression, as well as lower blood pressure.
Less conflict in shelters means no 911 calls, no additional medical care required in shelters, and less wear and tear on facilities.  
Program Long-Term Success 

In the long term, homeless individuals who participate in our program will be empowered to take life-altering steps forward. These include:

·      Interacting more, and more positively, with others outside the shelter

·      Managing logistics better and negotiating daily life more successfully 

·      Finding and using resources to address problems (e.g. treatment for mental illness or substance dependency; training for employment; etc.)

·      Building positive long-term relationships with others, finding community and forming networks of support

Ultimately, these steps will enable them to identify paths out of homelessness.


Program Success Monitored By  Via a written survey from homeless shelter guest responses to concerts are documented following every performance.  This survey accommodates shelter guests who do not speak or write comfortably in English as well as accommodates guests who wish to provide extensive comments.  A wide sample of these responses--all positive--is available  on the SMB website.  Shelter staff collect responses to the concerts between SMB visits.  These responses, equally positive, represent both guest's and staff experience of the shelter concerts.  Staff consistently comment on the remarkable capacity of the concerts to improve the atmosphere and morale in the shelters. Consultation with shelter staff between concerts enables SMB to monitor and customize the program for each shelter.
Examples of Program Success 

Jonathan, a shelter guest with schizophrenia who had interacted with no one during two years in the shelter, began speaking to his social worker and psychiatrist about classical music after a concert. Ensuing conversations laid the groundwork for him to take medication to address his unstable mental health.

A young woman told SMB musicians that she had discovered that classical music could make her feel happy in a way she had previously sought only through drugs.
Kyle, whose disabilities limited his interactions with others, became determined to hear the Mozart Requiem at Boston’s Symphony Hall. A respectful relationship, built over months via SMB concerts, gave Kermit the confidence and determination to negotiate logistics normally too daunting for him: to the amazement of shelter staff, he called a relative in Michigan, acquired $25 to purchase a ticket, and attended a sold-out performance on May 1, 2011.
"The music was water for my soul when it was thirsty."--Shattuck Shelter guest

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Julie Leven
CEO Term Start Jan 2010
CEO Email
CEO Experience
Julie Leven, Executive and Artistic Director of Shelter Music Boston, founded Shelter Music Boston in 2010 to create a performing arts/social service organization able to provide an immediate positive impact with classical music performances in environments of great need.
Ms. Leven is a 2012 graduate of the Boston University School of Management Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Her extensive career as a violinist includes solo and chamber music performances across the US and longtime association with the Handel+ Haydn Society in Boston.  International festival appearances include the BBC Proms in London, Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Edinburgh Festival, Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt Austria, Crakow/Warsaw Beethoven Festival, and in the US: Aston Magna Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, and as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. 
Ms. Leven has also performed throughout the US, Japan, and Korea as a member of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.  She has been a member of the Jerusalem Symphony, and the Aarhus Symfonieorkester in Denmark. Ms. Leven can be heard as a soloist on the Boston Baroque recordings of Handel Opus 6 Concerti Grossi, the Grammy nominated performance of the Monteverdi Vespers. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory with degrees in English and Violin Performance.
Julie was named a Boston Neighborhood Fellow, and the first-ever classical musician to receive this prestigious award, in April 2014.  She was the 2013 and first-ever Root Cause/Social Innovation Forum Classical Music Social Innovator.
In 2012, Julie was named a Community Hero by the My Hero Project and in 2011 she received a hopeFound Hero Award for the remarkable impact of classical music in the Shattuck Shelter.  
Ms. Leven has been recognized in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Magazine, Strings Magazine, Wellesley Weston Magazine, the Jewish Advocate, on WBUR "All Things Considered" and on VietnamNet for innovation in services to the homeless population of Boston. 
Co-CEO Ms. Carrie Eldridge-Dickson
Co-CEO Term Start July 2016
Co-CEO Email
Co-CEO Experience
Carrie Eldridge-Dickson joined Shelter Music Boston in July 2016 as the organization's first ever managing director. After almost 10 years at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Carrie is very familiar with the issue of homelessness in Greater Boston and is passionate about social justice and equity for all. Her time at BHCHP was spent managing volunteers and AmeriCorps members, working with leadership donors, and directing the organization's communications efforts. In fact, it was there that Carrie first connected with Shelter Music Boston when musicians performed for homeless respite patients in SMB's early days.  
Carrie is a graduate of Emerson College and has a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University.  

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Erin Merceruio Nelson Director of Development and Operations

Senior Program Administrator                                                                         May 2011 – October 2014

Free for All Concert Fund                            Cambridge, MA

  • Part of a leadership team that expanded grantmaking from six organizations to 29 organizations in three years, reaching 260,000 audience members throughout Greater Boston.

  • Adjusted the organization’s grant cycle, saving the foundation $100,000 annually.

  • Supported the creation and implementation of a new international music award.

  • Initiated programmatic policies for system improvements, including development practices.  

  • Led branding campaign to quickly establish this new public charity, including development of all print and digital collateral material.

  • Developed and managed all media and donor communications, resulting in an increase of unsolicited donations by 22%.

  • Supported a high-level board of trustees and associated committees.

  • Created and managed individual donor strategies, including long-term goals and step by step actions, accumulating $534,265.00 in gifts.

  • Created systems to ensure fundraising database records (Raiser’s Edge) remain current to provide robust reporting to funders and the Board of Trustees.

Development Assistant                                Sept 2009 – May 2011

Hebrew SeniorLife                                Needham, MA

  • Compiled, wrote and sent donor acknowledgements and organized and maintained filing system.

  • Reported to the Senior Director of Development/Research, with duties including calendar management, managing prospect data, planning and staffing research events including handling reservations, bookings, menus, arranging vendors, billing and attendee follow-up.

  • Submitted expense reports for major gift officers, reconciled and submitted department bills, organized mailings, handled details for VIP cultivation events, assisted Annual Fund Director with quarterly phone-a-thons.

  • Executed database clean-up and information input/export using Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge.


Award Awarding Organization Year
Boston Neighborhood Fellow Program Award The Philanthropic Initiative 2014
For Arts, Music, and Dignity for Homeless Men and Women Massachusetts House of Representatives 2014
Classical Music Social Innovator Root Cause/Social Innovation Forum 2013
Community Hero My Hero Project 2012
Hero Award hopeFound 2011


Affiliation Year
Chamber Music America - Member 2011
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 10
Number of Contract Staff 20
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 22
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 20
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A


Board Chair Mr. Allen Spivack
Board Chair Company Affiliation retired
Board Chair Term Oct 2016 - Feb 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Kenneth Blum Center for Brain Science, Harvard University Voting
Ms. Julie Leven Shelter Music Boston, Handel and Haydn Society Voting
Mr. Steven Levine Retired Voting
Ms. Virgnia Sapiro Boston University Voting
Ms. Jessica Schmidt Boston Symphony Orchestra Voting
Mr. Allen Spivack Dimock Center Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 6
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 3
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $218,900.00
Projected Expense $203,936.00
Form 990s

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $119,175 $78,652 $75,240
Total Expenses $126,565 $91,590 $56,543

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $119,136 $78,652 $73,205
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- $2,035
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $39 -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $113,943 $84,709 $47,430
Administration Expense $6,447 $5,590 $9,113
Fundraising Expense $6,175 $1,291 --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.94 0.86 1.33
Program Expense/Total Expenses 90% 92% 84%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 5% 2% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $58,932 $66,313 $79,151
Current Assets $58,932 $66,313 $79,151
Long-Term Liabilities -- $0 $0
Current Liabilities $1,209 $1,200 $1,100
Total Net Assets $57,723 $65,113 $78,051

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 48.74 55.26 71.96

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990-EZs, with additional detail about administrative and fundraising expenses per the Form PC on file with the state of MA for 2016 and 2015. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


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