To hear Ernie Boch Jr. talk – with a Boston accent and plenty of friendly colloquialisms – you’re reminded more of someone you could sit and have a beer with over the Red Sox game than a megamusical philanthropist
Ernie grew up in Norwood, Massachusetts, son of a successful local auto dealer. His father, Ernie Boch Sr., was somewhat of a local celebrity, known for his colorful commercials advertising the family chain of dealerships. Though the younger Ernie did eventually follow his father’s footsteps in the automotive business, he also nurtured a love of music that led him to play in numerous high school and college bands, culminating with Ernie attending the highly esteemed Berklee School of Music. It was through this combination of business acumen and his love of music that provided the impetus for Ernie pursuing the philanthropic side of the musical world.
In the Community: Music Drives Us
Like most people, Ernie Boch had never really planned on directing a charitable foundation – the opportunity simply seemed to present itself at the right time, and his love of music took over. It began with a chance meeting with John Sykes, one of the architects of MTV. Ernie’s original interest was in working with VH1’s Save the Music foundation, a national program dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in America’s public schools. After some preliminary discussions with the organization, Ernie decided to act on a more regional level, starting his own foundation entitled Music Drives Us – a clever reference to the successful business empire, which enabled him to realize the project.
“I didn’t want to raise any money until I proved this was a worthwhile thing,” Ernie recounts. Rather than relying on contributions to start his project, Ernie was willing to put $2 million of his own funds into the venture. Soon after establishing the organization’s funding, Ernie began producing PSAs to get the word out about Music Drives Us, and community groups rapidly began submitting grants. Since its inception, according to Ernie, Music Drives Us has given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to support various music initiatives. The foundation’s board meets once per quarter to distribute money to worthy causes. “Last round, 91 people applied for grants,” Ernie stated proudly.
|“To The Automatics are essentially a blues band with a rock n’ roll edge, able to move from jump blues to shuffles to cool Southern rock at any point in a set.”|
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