The Community Unity Music Education Program (CUMEP) formed in 2002, in response to the lack of quality, affordable, extracurricular music and arts education in the greater Ithaca, NY community (as well as the decreasing presence of the arts in academic curricula), the documented achievement gap between youth of color or low socioeconomic status and their white, middle-to-upper class peers, and significant research which has shown the benefits of incorporating music and arts into children's lives.

Fe Nunn, a local musician, writer, and teacher, began CUMEP at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center with eight (8) program participants, two pianos, one keyboard and no budget.  A year later, CUMEP expanded from a music-only program to offer instruction in a variety of the arts, and relocated to its current home at the Southside Community Center.  We began to receive funding, purchased some new instruments (including strings and percussion), and doubled our enrollment to 16 youth in the Summer of 2003.

Original CUMEP site: Greater Ithaca Activities Center

Since then, the number of children we serve has exceeded 100, and we've been able to purchase more new instruments each year.   We now have seven successful summer programs behind us, with another planned for 2011, and our afterschool program is thriving.  A video production component was recently added for the middle-school aged youth, with future aspirations to construct a 7,000 square foot state-of-the-art CUMEP facility to house all of our programs, an amphitheatre, practice rooms, stage for productions and a musical legends museum.

  CUMEP Summer Program at Southside Community Center

We will soon be expanding our program to Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls! Our charter program in the South is targeted to begin in Charlotte, North Carolina in the Spring/Summer of 2012.

CUMEP Expansion Site 2012: View of Uptown Charlotte, NC


CUMEP is a registered 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization.