“If you can break economic divisions and bring children from all socioeconomic backgrounds together, kids start to see each other and stereotypes get broken down.”

Francisco Núñez—child of immigrants, musical prodigy, and piano-performance major at Steinhardt—had always assumed that his future was in musical performance. But in his final semester, finding himself a few credits shy of graduation requirements, Núñez enrolled in a NYU student teaching internship. “That one decision completely changed my life,” he says. “I was working with children whose families were faced with financial hardship, and I recognized their challenges from my own childhood.”

Núñez knew from experience that it was more difficult for those children, regardless of ability, to access the pay-to-play world of elite musical instruction available to the affluent. He envisioned a paradigm-shift, a musical program that would bring children together based on ability, not background. Drawing on the same perseverance that drove him as a performer, he fought through societal resistance to found the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC)—an economic and cultural melting pot with musical talent as the equalizer.

Today, YPC is renowned worldwide for its diversity and artistic excellence, annually providing 2,000 students with a dynamic, money-blind choral experience and an avenue to success. Its College Bound Program ensures that 100% of graduating students attend college.

Núñez’s many accolades include a MacArthur “genius grant” and Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year Award. He’s given keynote addresses around the world, but his heart remains in NYC. “Every so often,” he says, “you get to do an interview or give a speech. But every other day, changemaking is hard work. You have to love the people you serve.”


Young People’s Chorus of New York City and YPC National want to congratulate Francisco on being honored as one of the 2023 NYU Alumni Changemakers!

This recognition is a testament to your exceptional contributions and dedication to making a positive impact in the lives of your YPC family and the community. Meet the Changemakers and learn more here.


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