Paul Simon has donated $1 million to fund the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program across the five boroughs in New York City. Simon donated his net proceeds from the final show of his farewell tour, when he returned to his hometown of Queens, playing Corona Park on September 22nd, 2018.
Rolling Stone posted, “Each year, the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program will partner 20 young music educators across the five boroughs of New York City with veteran teachers, who will provide mentorship and skills training over the course of a school year. Additionally, the program will help bring new 'artists-in-residence' to schools across the city for 11 weeks at a time. And Simon will be involved as well, curating appearances from special guest artists who will lead master classes for students.”
Paul Simon launched the program at the start of the 2019/2020 school year with an initial group of 20 middle and high school teachers. Simon said in a statement: “School arts programs like the Music Fellows Program, when carefully guided and nurtured by dedicated teachers and gifted musicians, have the capacity to change and enrich students’ lives. As a graduate of the NYC public school system myself, I look forward to seeing the flowering of musical talent, and hearing what our city’s kids give us, as they take advantage of this new program. This program could be a beautiful garden if we tend to it properly.”
Although Paul Simon calls on his life experiences for his material, he admitted that it sometimes it takes time to name and number whom he exactly is writing about: “Once I knew more about what I was writing, then I began to recognize the characters; 'Oh, that's this person in my life, that's this event, or this is somebody I know.' So in a sense the snapshot analogy is so. More like a movie than a snapshot, because they seem to be stories. Quite often the songs are stories.”