La Rondalla, a free after-school music program for students in Oak Cliff and Dallas, suspended its operations last week because of a shortage of money. As founder Dennis Gonzales and his two sons, Stefan and Aaron, sought public donations, they received a private donation Thursday of $20,000, enough to keep the doors open for a month.
Doors will remain closed, however, until the program can revive a secure fund from the Communities Foundation of Texas. Gonzales says he is hopeful that the program will receive the funds next week and is asking the public to continue to send donations to secure the its future.
“We're trying to spread that [$20,000 donation] throughout the next few months,” he says. “We’re still continuing to ask for people not to give up on us.”
Since 2010, the program has provided free music education to students who do not have access to the arts.
Gonzales says the cost to keep La Rondalla open is an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 per month, which covers rent, utility, instruments and instructor pay. It’s a month-to-month struggle to keep La Rondalla open.
This is not the first time the program has faced a financial crisis.
In 2014, Big Thought, the company that supported and helped fund La Rondalla during its first three years, only offered the program $5,000. La Rondalla was running out of options but was able to obtain $15,000 from a Kickstarter campaign to resume classes.
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“This time the difference is that it hit really quickly," Gonzales says. "It hit within a day or two, and we knew we couldn’t meet enough to pay the payroll to make sure we pay our bill. The other time, we were warned a month ahead of time.”
The family has spread awareness via Facebook and is planning a two-day benefit garage sale from 7 a.m. until sundown April 7 and 8 at the La Rondalla building, 1107 W. Jefferson Blvd. There will also be a series of benefit concerts. The first is at 9 p.m. April 15 at Tradewinds Social Club, 2843 W. Davis St. The program is requesting donations of $5 or more, and a portion of all bar sales go to La Rondalla. A Spinsters Records benefit show and more benefit venues will be announced soon.
The quickest way to donate is via La Rondalla’s PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org with a note that says "donation for La Rondalla," along with your name and email. Gonzales says people have already begun to donate to the PayPal account.
“The first 48 hours we felt alone,” he says. “But now we seem to come out of it and hoping to start within a week.”