A nonprofit organization

$9,685 raised

97% complete

$10,000 Goal

Connecting through music.

Thank you for your support! CAYO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that brings young musicians from Cuba and Minnesota together for education, collaboration and performance. CAYO is proud of our Minnesota roots, starting with the historic Minnesota Orchestra visit to Cuba in 2015 which helped usher in a new phase of US-Cuba relations. The opportunity and desire for mutual learning between the people of the US and Cuba is one of the sparks that created CAYO. 

Where does your gift go? 

  • give to the CAYO Student Ambassador Program, a cultural exchange program for student musicians in the US and Cuba. Participants attend a week-long exchange in one or several of Cuba's schools for the performing arts under the guidance of nationally-recognized teaching artists. Service learning, community outreach and side-by-side collaborations make this a transformative experience for young learners in both countries. 
  • give to the Rick Heydinger Memorial Fund, which ensures that students from all backgrounds can access the benefits of international cultural exchange.
  • give to US-based Cuban artists like the Havana Quartet, who bring the music and culture of Cuba to schools, senior centers and performing arts venues around the Twin Cities Metro.


Here's what our participants report:

  • "The Student Ambassador Program taught me empathy for people living in different situations."

  • "I learned to take more risks and share the joy of making music, even with a language barrier."
  • "I learned to be appreciative for my life and to stop taking things for granted."

Your gift helps us change lives.  CAYO programs bring students, professionals and audience members together to meet their neighbors, challenge and inspire one another, and perform the work of diplomacy on the world stage.

“I saw the greater purpose I can serve in the world as a musician.”

—CAYO participant, 2019 Juntos en Armonía tour to Cuba

Combined ensemble of Cuban and U.S. student musicians, performed at Escuela Nacional de Música, October 27, 2023 

under the direction of Desirée Ruhstrat, violin

Organization Data


Organization name


other names

Cuban American Youth Orchestra

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture Education International


3700 36TH AVE S



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