"It's a huge vote of confidence," said Thompson, who said that 80 new students at Freire join 160 already enrolled in the program at St. Francis de Sales School, on 47th Street just below Baltimore Avenue.
Freire was chosen from 19 applicants.
"We were very impressed with the leadership of the school, their focus on providing the children with the best resources possible, and their vision for what they wanted accomplished at the new middle school," said Thompson.
Since there were more Freire students who wanted to enroll in Play On, Philly! than there were slots available, the 80 were selected by lottery.
The Haas and Lenfest funding comes on the heels of an earlier $1 million grant from Seed the Dream Foundation founders Joel Greenberg, a chief of the Bala Cynwyd financial-trading firm Susquehanna International Group, and his wife, Marcy Gringlas.
That grant did not have an explicit matching requirement, Thompson said, but it ended up functioning that way.
"It wasn't really a term of the grant, but simply an expectation - that their grant would provide some momentum. I don't think we thought the momentum would happen this quickly."
Thompson, 25, says that adding new sites increases efficiencies, since staff can be shared among schools.
"We have 28 teaching artists, and we'll have four symphony orchestras," he said. "And, of course, from those we have twice the number of string orchestras and wind ensembles, breaking those kids apart into different groups. It's the beginning of putting together a youth orchestra system."
The most visible product of El Sistema is Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel, who will bring the Simon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela to the Kimmel Center for a Dec. 5 concert.
Contact Peter Dobrin at 215-854-5611 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at www.philly.com/artswatch.