Youth Symphony Association of Kansas City, Inc.
209 W 18th Street
Kansas City MO 64108
The YSKC Symphony Orchestra was honored to debut Helzberg Hall to the public at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts during the Open House on September 18, 2011.
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 897-0577
Mission Statement
The mission of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City is to educate young musicians through enhanced orchestral experiences and to build the present and future classical music community.
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Steven C. Murray
Board Chair Ms. Marylou Turner
Board Chair Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1958
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement The mission of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City is to educate young musicians through enhanced orchestral experiences and to build the present and future classical music community.
Background Statement
The Youth Symphony of Kansas City was founded in 1958 by community representatives who recognized a need for opportunities for young musicians to perform classical repertoire in an orchestra. The Youth Symphony has grown to a program of more than 450 young musicians participating in one of four orchestras. The Symphony Orchestra, the most advanced orchestra, performs on a level with most college orchestras and has toured internationally, to locations such as Spain, Canada, Italy and Eastern Europe.

The quality of the program is due in large part to its outstanding artistic staff, each a respected professional music educator. The Youth Symphony of Kansas City is an independent, non-profit institution that has not been and is not affiliated with the Kansas City Symphony or its predecessor. The Youth Symphony of Kansas City is a recognized leader in the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras.  With many years of experience, the Youth Symphony of Kansas City is regarded as a source of knowledge and guidance for many fledgling organizations beginning their organizational growth.
Impact Statement
In the 2016–17 season, the Youth Symphony of Kansas City celebrated these accomplishments:
  1.  Approximately 14,500 audience members attended 17 performances.
  2. 460 Musicians from made up four full orchestras, our Ochestra Camp and an Overture Strings Program.
  3. 120 area schools in 56 communities representing both sides of the state line were represented through student participation.
  4. 680 musicians auditioned in May 2017 for the current season.
  5. Over $28,000 was provided in tuition assistance for families in need.
Primary goals for the Youth Symphony of Kansas City in 2017-2018 are to: 
  1. Provide a rigorous, enhanced classical music education program to 450+ young musicians in grades 5–12.
  2. Provide performance opportunities to our students in both world-class professional concert venues as well as in neighborhood venues throughout the Kansas City.
  3. Create a new composition by a local composer that will be played on our Austria Tour in June 2019.
  4. Collaborate with Edward Bilous, Founding Director of Center for Innovation in the Arts at the Julliard School.
  5. Profile our Alumni, current student musicians and families with our wider audience.
Needs Statement
The organization's top five needs include the following:
Program-Specific Needs:      
  • Concert sponsorship support to provide access to professional venues and rehearsal spaces ($30,500-40,000 for FY18)
  • Endowment-specific funding to ensure long-term stability of the organization ($25,000 for FY18)
  • Scholarship support for students whose families qualify for financial aid ($15,000 for FY18)
Organizational Needs: 
  • Additional funds to hire a consultant to help YSKC plan for the next 3 to 5 years. ($13,000 for FY18)
  • 3-year funding for a Communications and Marketing Manager to help raise the visibility of YSKC. ($30,000 annually)
Service Categories
Symphony Orchestras
Arts Education
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Liberty
MO - Ray County
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
Our musicians come from all five counties in the region and as far away as Fort Scott, Topeka and Lawrence, KS. The come from St. Joe and Chillicothe, MO.
These young musicians and their families travel to Shawnee Mission East and West High Schools to rehearse and perform most Sundays between September and April. Each student receives an average of 70 hours of rehearsal time in a year.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement Since the Mission of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City is to educate young musicians through enhanced orchestral experiences and to build the present and future classical music community, we now have over 500 young musicians in grades 4 through 12 engaged in four orchestras, two overture programs, and three enrichment programs. These young musicians come from the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area as well as outlying areas of both Missouri and Kansas. The Youth Symphony of Kansas City partners with parents, school music teachers, private instructors, schools, universities, and professional arts organizations to provide robust and inclusive educational experiences for an emerging group of musicians and futures leaders.
The Youth Symphony offers four ensembles that enhance the classical music education of musicians from grades 5–12. Every musician must audition each year regardless of previous Youth Symphony participation. 
  • Symphony Orchestra, led by Conductor Steven D. Davis, an advanced full orchestra performing standard classical symphonic repertoire. 
  • Academy Orchestra, led by Conductor Russell Berlin, an advanced full orchestra performing standard classical symphonic repertoire and original compositions. 
  • Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Conductor Michelle Davis, an intermediate full orchestra that performs original compositions and arrangements of symphonic music.
  • Debut Orchestra, led by Conductor Russ Pieken, a preparatory full orchestra performing arrangements and original compositions.
Program Budget $492,234.00
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Music
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), Families, Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success Each Youth Symphony musician experiences, on average, forty hours of rehearsal in an orchestra (at the beginning orchestra) up to 120 hours (at the Symphony Orchestra level), 4–6 opportunities to perform in the orchestra in concert, plus many additional educational opportunities.
Long-Term Success
Each Youth Symphony musician will have an appreciation of classical music that results from their first-hand study and performance of classical music in a rigorous full orchestral experience. In the future, some will pursue careers as professional musicians, as performers, orchestra members, accompanists, conductors, music educators and private teachers.
Others will pursue non-music careers but will have a life-long appreciation of classical music. These young musicians will become the future's classical music audiences, contributors to the arts and arts advocates — civic leaders who value the important role that classical music plays in our community.
Program Success Monitored By Each musician is placed in an orchestra through an audition process, thus providing a challenging yet achievable orchestra environment. The Youth Symphony presents concerts throughout the city, many in collaboration with community organizations. For example, the Youth Symphony's Chamber Orchestra performed in Kirk Hall at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, at the Chinese New Year Festival in Yardley Hall on the JCCC campus and, partners with the Kansas City Symphony for educational and performance opportunities. Every year begins with an audition process that places each musician in the appropriate orchestra for age and experience. All musicians must audition regardless of previous program participation. The conductor of each orchestra chooses literature that challenges musicians as they develop and hone their skills during the course of a year. Both methods are ways to be used to evaluate improvements in our musicians.
Examples of Program Success
YSKC uses a handful of metrics to measure the effectiveness of its programs. The first is audition numbers. For the past five years, the number of students who audition has increased 82%. In May 2017, just under 700 musicians auditioned for the 2017-18 season. In May 2011 - just six years prior - a mere 374 musicians auditioned. This delta reflects that YSKC's program is not only highly regarded, but also the organization itself is more visible within the metro than ever before.

Also of importance is the number of audience members we perform for each season. YSKC reached just under 14,500 people last season.

Finally, we review the percentage of returning students who audition and advance to the next level orchestra. This statistic has remained right around 75% for a number of years. This number is a strong indicator that participants’ musicality and aptitude increases as a result of their participation in the orchestral education program.
CEO Comments
The Youth Symphony of Kansas City affords a high quality music education and performance program to more than 450 young musicians in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. These musicians qualify for the program through a rigorous audition process and devote between two to three hours each Sunday afternoon to rehearsals. Each ensemble rehearses weekly from September through April with concerts spread throughout the year. The most advanced ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, rehearses from August until June. Each of the four orchestras present between three to six performances annually. The Youth Symphony is committed to community engagement and performs in venues located throughout the metropolitan area.
In addition to rehearsals and concerts, program activities include coaching sessions with area professional musicians and educators, exchange programs with other youth orchestras such as the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, collaborations with professional music organizations such as the Kansas City Symphony and several community-based collaborative performances.
The Youth Symphony is financially stable and has been able to effectively manage the financial downturn. Today the Youth Symphony is able to provide financial aid to all young musicians whose families demonstrate need.
In the organization's 59-year history, we have estimated that 9,000 students have participated in the program, of which we are only in contact with a fraction. One of the most exciting opportunities we are taking on is the massive project of reconnecting with the program's alumni. To that end, we have created a new full-time Director of Advancement position to address this area and see it as being extremely important as we look toward a vibrant future and seek to accurately understand the program's longitudinal impact.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Steven C. Murray
Term Start Dec 2010

Steven C. Murray began as Executive Director of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City in December 2010.  Before his appointment with the Youth Symphony, Mr. Murray designed and implemented education strategies at professional orchestras in Iowa and Missouri over the span of five years, serving as Director of the Cedar Rapids Symphony School of Music in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Education Manager for the Kansas City Symphony.  Prior to his arts administration career, Mr. Murray taught middle school and elementary instrumental music.  He holds degrees in music education and communication arts from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.  In June 2011, Mr. Murray was elected to the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras Youth Orchestra Division, and presently serves as Vice-Chair. 

Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
Ms. Mary Corneil July 1998 - Dec 2010
Linda Robbins Jan 1992 - Jan 1996
Senior Staff
Title Director of Operations

Russ Pieken has been a music educator for 20 years in Kansas and Missouri. During this time he taught strings/orchestra at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Russ has been privileged and honored to have conducted performances in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and for the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. Groups under his direction have also performed for the Kansas Music Educators Association Conference and National Association for Music Education. In 2008 he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/National Symphony Orchestra National Music Educator Fellowship. Russ holds a bachelor of music education degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and a master of education degree from Baker University. Russ is proud to be an alumnus of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. 

Title Director of Advancement

Brian Williams began his nonprofit career at United Way of Metro Chicago in 2004 and while there he served in several key roles in development. He worked within the United Way system for nine years.

Brian began at the Youth Symphony of Kansas City as Director of Advancement in October 2016. He previously served at Kansas City Actors Theatre as their Director of Development and Marketing where he designed and implemented an annual fundraising and marketing plan for the theater.

Brian’s background is in the arts – theater in particular. He received a bachelor of arts in theater at UMKC and his master of fine arts in acting at The University of Iowa. Upon graduation he moved to Chicago. Brian is an avid runner and has run several marathons.

Paid Full-Time Staff 3
Paid Part-Time Staff 6
Volunteers 500
Paid Contractors 0
Retention Rate 90%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 1
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 4
Male 5
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
The Youth Symphony collaborates with major classical music organizations in Kansas City including the Kansas City Symphony, Friends of Chamber Music, Harriman–Jewell Series and area educational institutions including the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Park University, William Jewell College and the University of Kansas. In August 2017, the Youth Symphony partnered with the Kansas City Royals by performing the National Anthem. Concerts have also been held at Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District in support of the same collaboration. In previous seasons, the Youth Symphony has also collaborated with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Oklahoma Area Youth Orchestras.
League of American Orchestras1960
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2011
AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals)2015
50th Anniversary HonorsMissouri House of Representatives and State of Missouri Senate2010
Youth Symphony Week in Kansas City, MissouriCity of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor's Office2014
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments
The organization is in an enviable position within the community; we engage with the most talented and committed high school students from across the regional area as well as the most qualified professional musicians and educators in the region.
The programs of the Youth Symphony do not occur in a vacuum, however. The Board and administrative staff work together collaboratively to ensure appropriate oversight and a focused approach to identifying opportunity for strategic growth and development of the program. The Board is energized and committed to the mission at hand. Board members come from diverse professional, geographic and cultural backgrounds and various generations.
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Marylou Turner
Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
Term July 2014 to June 2019
Board Members
Mr. Rickey Adger Lean Implementation Manager, Mars Chocolate North America
Mr. Ho Ahn Kansas City Symphony
Dr. Sandra Archer Shawnee Mission Health
Ms. Jamie Davis AMC Theatres
Ms. Sue Ann Fagerberg Community Volunteer
Ms. Joan Horan Community Volunteer
Ms. Linda Lyon Community Volunteer
Mr. Neil S. Sader The Sader Law Firm
Mr. Matthew Schulte Kansas City Royals
Ms. Marylou Turner Community Volunteer
Ms. Sarah VanLanduyt Arts Coucil of Johnson County
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
CEO Comments
Administrative staff and Board members work together collaboratively, defining and addressing areas which require strategic focus and oversight. The Board is energetic, engaged and capable of serving the mission at hand. Its membership includes diverse professionals, with varying geographic and cultural backgrounds as well as a wide variety of ages, with members ranging in age from their 30s to 70s.
In 2010, upon the retirement of Mary Corneil, the Board of Directors underwent a six-month Executive Director search, which resulted in the hiring of Steven Murray in December 2010. In 2011, the Board undertook a significant board development initiative which resulted in an increase of three new members.
From December 2010 to present, the Board has undertaken a rigorous schedule, adopting a new strategic planning document, revising its member responsibilities and engaging in an extended-day Board Retreat, all resulting in renewed focus and vision for the future of the organization. Three new Board Committees have been identified and began meeting in January 2013.
As is the case with any organization, a shift in administrative and Board leadership is an important opportunity for an organization's renewed sense of energy, urgency and ownership.
Fiscal Year Start July 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End June 30, 2018
Projected Revenue $615,664
Projected Expenses $615,293
Endowment Value $485,447
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage 5
Form 990s
2016 YSA 990
2015 YSA 990
2014 YSA 990
2013 YSA 990
2012 YSA 990
2011 YSA 990
2010 YSA 990
2009 YSA 990
2008 YSA 990
Audit Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 6/30/2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line items may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$13,122$8,749$12,713
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$16,202$26,533$16,296
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$4,795$0$0
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$695,251$313,441$284,523
Administration Expense$131,350$85,211$58,760
Fundraising Expense$37,798$57,258$28,263
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.951.001.02
Program Expense/Total Expenses80%69%77%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue18%21%13%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$581,805$635,132$635,242
Current Assets$570,776$621,711$623,588
Long-Term Liabilities$8,927$0$0
Current Liabilities$71,140$78,435$58,370
Total Net Assets$501,738$556,697$576,872
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities8.027.9310.68
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets2%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation $25,000 --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Oppenstein Brothers Foundation - Commerce Bank $15,000 --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Louis & Elizabeth Nave Flarsheim Charitable Foundation $15,000 --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments
The Youth Symphony of Kansas City has a long history of financial solvency. However, in FY16 and FY17 a sizable deficit was posted -- largely due to organizational "growing pains". Fortunately, due to several years of conservative spending, reserve funds were available to ensure positive cash flow.
Since FY12, the organization has experienced incredible growth -- an 82% increase in the number of students auditioning for the program. In order to ensure program access, tuition has been increased modestly during this time, but not at a rate to fully offset organizational expenses. Earned income from program tuition comprises approximately 45% of all revenue. Need-based financial assistance in the form of tuition abatement is also available, with roughly $20,000 provided annually.
As the organization has continued to evolve, the creation of additional administrative staff and program support positions have been necessary to serve the Youth Symphony's mission and needs. One of the new staff positions is a Director of Advancement, responsible for the design and execution of a comprehensive fundraising and relationship building strategy to increase donors and donations. Such strategy (and the necessary planning and execution) was largely absent within the organization until this position was created in Fall 2016. In just a short year, already the Youth Symphony is experiencing increases in individual giving and major gifts, including foundation giving. While additional time to experience the full potential of our contributed revenue strategy is necessary, we are confident that the organization is on the right path.
The Board of Directors is committed to ensuring the long-term fiscal health of the organization. To that end, the Board is ready to embark on a sustainability planning initiative to more deeply understand the intersection of the Youth Symphony's service to the community and its financial resources and needs for the future. This too will aid in shaping the organization's business model and fundraising strategy. It is worth noting that contributed revenue from members of the Board has increased substantially. This year our Board has committed $17,000 in contributions. Rewind to FY12 and Board contributions totaled a mere $2,750. This is an increase of more than 500%. Not only does our Board "walk the walk" -- they "talk the talk".
The Youth Symphony is fortunate to have widespread community support and is grateful to all who make possible this opportunity for young musicians in Kansas City.
Organization Name Youth Symphony Association of Kansas City, Inc.
Address 209 W 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
Primary Phone (816) 897-0577
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Steven C. Murray
Board Chair Ms. Marylou Turner
Board Chair Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
Year of Incorporation 1958