Kiff Gallagher is founder of Peacelabs Music and the Music National Service Initiative (MNSI). In 2008, The Aspen Institute named MNSI's MusicianCorps — a developing AmeriCorps-type program that will enable musicians to serve in low-income schools — one of the top ten public policy proposals that would strengthen the United States.

According to The Aspen Institute:

Music reaches youth. … Music education develops habits of self-directed learning that drive lifelong success, and it can inspire community cohesiveness and service. Yet, most schools are experiencing significant cutbacks. Particularly effective at reaching disengaged youth, music can be an effective vehicle for a public service corps that meets social and civic goals.

The MNSI project has recently received $500K from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to pilot a 10-month fellowship program in the Bay Area. After a summer training institute, Fellows would take up their service in public schools, engaging in these kinds of activities. The program is set to launch its first cohort in August 2009.

Idealist's Amy Potthast talks with Kiff Gallagher about the need for music and arts education in the schools, about his role in developing the national service legislation that shaped AmeriCorps in 1993, and the future of the Music National Service Initiative.

Also check out this story on NPR.