Meet Tanya Ramos-Puig, The New Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation President
The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation, the Latin Recording Academy's philanthropic arm, has a new leader: nonprofit and education expert Tanya Ramos-Puig.
Growing up a student of color with limited resources, Ramos-Puig feels strongly about bringing opportunities to musicians and creators of all backgrounds. As the president of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation, she will lead the effort to bring more awareness and appreciation to the contributions of Latin music and its creators. The foundation supports students all around the world through scholarships and provides grants to "researchers, anthropologists, musicologists, scholars, and institutions to further the research and preservation of Latin music," among other programs and initiatives.
"It is this passion for access to quality education and preserving the arts that led me to this new role at The Latin Recording Academy," she told GRAMMY.com over email. "I feel poised to not only bring my boundless energy and passion to this cause but also my commitment and experience around education equity."
Ramos-Puig, a former leader at Pencils of Promise, Education Pioneers and The Children's Aid Society, spoke with GRAMMY.com about her background, what she hopes to bring to her new role and what's next for the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation.
Can you tell us a little about your professional background and what led to your new role at the Latin Recording Academy?
If I had to sum up my professional background, or career, I believe that I am a transformational leader who has spent nearly three decades in both the nonprofit and private sectors dedicated to educational equity and access. Given my humble beginnings as a student of color growing up with limited resources and whose parents barely made ends meet, I have learned first-hand that access to quality education, the arts and the necessary funding to fuel that path, are the true equalizers—and that has been my life’s work. Nothing brings me more joy than staying true to my purpose; it is this passion for access to quality education and preserving the arts that led me to this new role at The Latin Recording Academy.
You come from a background in education. What have you learned in that field that you hope to bring to the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation?
Yes, I certainly come from a background in education, however, my previous role provided extensive exposure to the music industry. It was almost as if I was being prepared and groomed to take on this incredibly exciting opportunity at the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. I feel poised to not only bring my boundless energy and passion to this cause but also my commitment and experience around education equity. In my field, I have learned the importance of developing authentic relationships and stewarding supporters and volunteers so they can make their desired impact with their philanthropic dollars. I also know the importance of balancing that alongside nurturing and supporting my team, on the ground, who, in this case, will be responsible for supporting our students, schools and the countries we collaborate with around the globe through our programs and various initiatives.
In your experience, why is music education is so important? What constitutes the soundtrack of your life?
Music education can enrich a student’s life and educational trajectory! It has been my experience that music education plays a factor in closing the academic gap, particularly in at-risk students as it improves both language and cognitive skills. There are countless studies that point to the power of music to shape the brain and boost its functioning. And yet, so many deserving students that look like me lack access. It is so disheartening that the children who do not have access to music education are disproportionately those who attend under-resourced schools, something I know all too well.
The soundtrack of my life has been salsa! It never ceases to amaze me how a song can bring old memories –both good and bad—which have defined me and my life experiences. My road map of salsa tunes has truly been the soundtrack, playing in the background, through every milestone I have achieved and has fed my soul. I love classic salsa tunes, from Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and El Gran Combo. They each had a song for me to celebrate my wins, cry through my pain or loss, or inspirational gems that guided me through what was next in my life’s journey. Music is the fabric of our lives.
What specifically do you hope to bring to your new role at the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation?
I hope to bring my humility, my ingenuity and my vast experience in the nonprofit sector along with my passion for improving life outcomes for students around the globe to the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. I look forward to working alongside my dedicated Foundation team to raise more awareness for our work and raise the philanthropic dollars we need to continue to make a significant impact around access to education and the arts for countless students.
One of the foundation's primary charitable focuses is to support the research and preservation of Latin music genres. What does that entail exactly? And why is this an important pillar for the foundation?
The Research and Preservation Grants program offers four grants annually with a value of up to $5,000 each to support research and preservation efforts of Latin music genres around the world. To date, the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation has awarded 28 grants with a combined value of $135,000, to researchers, musicologists and institutions whose projects focus on historical research, music anthropology and the documentation of Latin folklore traditions.
Our mission is to further international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture through college scholarships, grants and educational programs. Preservation and research are vital to this mission as it helps honor the music of yesterday, preserve cultural heritage and traditions, while also uplifting the music of today and creators of tomorrow.
Established in 2000, the Latin GRAMMY in the Schools program has supported music education for more than 20 years. What's next for the program? And how do you progress the program's mission for the next 20 years?
Through Latin GRAMMY In The Schools, the foundation has donated more than $600,000 in musical instruments to schools throughout the United States and Ibero-America in support of their music education programs. Progress for this program is to continue adapting and innovating, just as we did when creating a virtual format to deal with the repercussions of COVID-19.
Are there any exciting projects or initiatives in the works for the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation right now?
Something we are very excited about sharing is that the Ford Fund will continue to support our causes as a sponsor of Latin GRAMMY In The Schools. We will be resuming our Private House Concerts, which are intimate high-end fundraising events hosted at the homes of friends and benefactors of the Foundation, where select groups of guests are invited to attend a conversation and live performances with renowned artists of the Latin music industry. Past hosts include Pitbull and Gloria and Emilio Estefan.