One Child. One Guitar. One Miracle. logo_white_transparent_353x150

The GNG Mission

We provide guitars and lessons to foster children and at-risk youth in a classroom setting with qualified teachers as an alternative to violence.



PO BOX 494 MILLIKEN, CO  80543

The Focus of Our Program

Music has the power to heal. We instill a love and appreciation for music that children can carry with them for the rest of their lives.


Many of our students are the victims of abuse or neglect. We provide an environment where kids can feel safe, secure, and valued.


Our students walk away from our class with the knowledge they can accomplish challenging goals with some commitment and dedication.


Our class helps to fuel the creativity of our students allowing them to express their emotions in a positive and constructive way.


Yes, we teach guitar. But more than that we commit to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of our students.


Facts About Guitars not Guns

Kids Served to date
Chapters in Operation
States with Chapters
Years Serving Our Communities

Using music as a catalyst we encourage children and teens to use their creativity to foster personal development and to help divert them from the destructive influences of drugs, alcohol, and gang-related violence.

— Guitars not Guns —

In the GNG Classroom

How Our Program Works

Our program is targeted to foster kids and at-risk youth ages 8-18 using high teacher-to-student ratios. Each class consists of a maximum of 10 students with three adult instructors. Each program is 8 weeks long with a one hour session each week.

In addition to learning how to master changing from one chord to another, children learn perseverance & discipline and build self-esteem. More importantly, the kids learn to enjoy the interaction and have fun in a group setting.

Those kids who complete the full 8 week program have earned the right to keep the guitar and are invited to return for a second 8-week session of more advanced instruction. They’ve earned it!

How You Can Help

Our mission is delivered by our passionate volunteers and generous donors. Get involved in this great organization today.

Make a Contribution

We can’t offer our program without support from people like you who want to help make our communities a little better. Please consider helping by making a contribution.

Our Program Creates

  • Empowered Youth
  • Enhanced Self Esteem
  • Alternatives to Violence
  • Make a Donation

Volunteer Your Time

Whether or not you play guitar there is a great spot for you in our program. Simply contact us below to find a chapter near you where you can volunteer.

Note: Moratorium on New Chapters During Covid


Date: September 20, 2021 

From: Ray and Louise Nelson, Corp. Office 

To: All 

Re: Moratorium on New Chapters During Covid


Hi Folks, 

First, we want to thank our volunteers for stepping up where there is a growing  need for kids to find an alternative to violence. Thank you, Thank you, Thank  you. And Thank You to the many requests to begin a Guitars not Guns chapter  in your area. However, keeping the kids safe is our highest priority.  

It has been quite a year, and we know it will pass – we just have to have patience – and patience is one of the lessons we teach our special kids. We do regret  having to announce that, due to the current pandemic and variants, the Executive  Board has decided to place a moratorium on opening new chapters. It was a  difficult decision because gun violence affects our children in so many harmful  ways – but so does the pandemic. Our current volunteers are having as many  virtual classes as possible to keep the children engaged with their guitars and the  many benefits of knowing they still have a friend in their guitar when sad  moments occur. 

We know you will understand and we promise to post any changes as soon as  they occur. Our priority is the safety of the children. 


Ray and Louise Nelson 

Co-Founders, Guitars not Guns

Volunteers Matter

No Paid Employees.
All Volunteers.

All the Time.

Guitars not Guns is proud to say that we are a 100% volunteer-based organization. Our mission is driven and delivered by passionate volunteers who understand the importance of music in the lives of under served children in our communities. Because we have no paid staff, more of your contributions go directly to the children.

What Others Have to Say About Our Program

  • Our student participants are eager and enthusiastic about their weekly adventure. Other students are trying to get into the program. I have had the pleasure of observing our participants. Their faces tell the story. Expressions of joy and accomplishment permeate the room. Often students will let you know emphatically that the program is lots of fun. As an educational administrator, the essence of the educational process should be fun. This unique and wonderful program has allowed our special needs population an opportunity to learn how to play the guitar while they are engaged in concept building and the acquiring of a variety of learning skills. The Guitars not Guns Program is a tremendous asset to Rock Creek Academy.

    — Bettye A. Bellamy, High School Principal —

  • I cannot express to you the joy you brought to our boys last night…They are all so excited to be a part of your program.

    — Nick, Boys Group Home Manager —

  • When (the guitar teachers come) I feel that I can be as good as them at guitar.

    — Ryan, Student in homeless shelter —

  • [/testimonial_slide]
  • After exploring the inner landscapes of the Guitars not Guns Program, I agreed to move forward and introduced (the program) to our students. By all means, it is probably one of the best decisions that I have made as Principal of the high school program at Rock Creek Academy.

    — Bettye A. Bellamy, High School Principal —

  • I like playing the guitar because it expresses how you feel through music. Playing the guitar is a lot of fun. It may look hard but it is very easy once you learn the notes. I think being in the guitar class helps a lot of students express themselves through playing it. Playing the guitar is a lot of fun. I play the guitar when I don’t express myself and I think it helps a lot. I enjoy playing the guitar.

    — Imani, Student —



We'd really love to hear from you so why not drop us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Your Name (required)

Your City (required)

Your State (required)

Your Zip Code (required)


Reason for Contact (required)
General InquiryStart a ChapterDonate an InstrumentBecome a VolunteerOther

Your Email (required)


Your Message



By providing children and teens with guitars and lessons, we hope to engage their creative potential and provide a positive outlet for negative emotions.

— —

We are Grateful to Our Supporters

Guitars not Guns is so grateful to our supporters! Here is a list of some great organizations that have helped us in our mission to serve foster and at-risk youth throughout the nation.


GibsonThe Music LinkEgo PicksD'Addario Strings




PO BOX 494 MILLIKEN, CO  80543

The month of May is National Foster Care Month (NFCM) May is an important opportunity to spread the word about the needs of the more than 319,000 children and young people in foster care. A Blue ribbon is the color and symbol for National Foster Care month. May 31, 2024 is Foster Parent appreciation Day. We each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care through programs such as Guitars Not Guns. For more information regarding Foster Care visit;


Let’s Thank our Teacher’s during “Teachers Appreciation week.” Thank you for all that you do to keep this organization and the kids of Guitars Not Guns tuned into the guitar and music! Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!

GIVING TUESDAY-GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC TO A CHILD IN NEED! Your gift of just $50 will provide an at-risk/foster child with 8 weeks of music lessons, an acoustic guitar, music stand, instructional booklet, tuner and strap. Lesson’s are provided by our volunteers/instructors who are all volunteers, all the time! We are a non-profit 501c3 organization. So, your donation goes directly to educating the children in music! Any donation amount will be greatly appreciated, and make an everlasting impact on a child in need.

Contra Costa’s Annual Children’s Music Charity held on Saturday, November 25th, 2023. Come out and support the kids of Guitars Not Guns and have a great time! Be sure to read the press release for all the exciting offers!

What a great benefit to be apart of and enjoy the music lineup these groups have in store for you!

Check out the Contra Costa County, CA Chapter on KTVU Channel 2 News interview on the open house in the East Bay area for Guitars Not Guns!

Check us out again on KRON Channel 4 News-Contra Costa County, CA in the Concord Library, Making music with the Kids of Guitars Not Guns!

Another Chapter in the News! Western, MA News in Springfield, MA and what Guitars Not Guns is doing to help juveniles to escape the violence through Music with Guitars Not Guns at the Boys and Girls Club.

>Check out what the Contra Costa Times has to say about the graduating class from the Antioch session.

Guitars Not Guns 2019 Annual Children’s Music Charity Fundraising Concert Event

Art Guitars and Signed Guitars Silent Auction
October 6, 2018

Police department graduates guitar class.

Guitars not Guns events and Chapter Facebook Pages below . 

(GNG) Chapter Facebook Pages Below

Santa Cruz, CA

Monterey, C

Contra Costa





Athens, GA

Home GnG



Sant Benito, CA

Barbara Gorin Threads of Hope-





PO BOX 494 MILLIKEN, CO  80543

Are you interested in volunteering? Check the list below to see if there is a chapter in an area near you. Don’t see a chapter near you and are interested in possibly starting one? Click here to contact us.

AL | AZ | CA | FL | GA | MI | MD | NC | OH | OR | PA | SC | TX| WA | WASHINGTON, D.C. | CANADA


– Contra Costa County –

Barbara Anne Gorin, Director:
Phone: 925-785-8342
Jay Kirkland, VP Special Projects:
Bruce Johnson, Treasurer:
Brooks Lundy, VP Instruction:
Deborah McKim, Secretary:
 Steve Kennedy, Community Outreach: kennedys@pacbell,net and
    Jeffrey Kuan, Social Media Manager: and
Contra Costa County, California Blog :
See the Contra Costa County, California QR Code below:

-Marin County-

Holly Hollenbeck-Director, Email:

Beatriz Mejia-Assistant Director, Email:

Miki Sakata-Treasurer, Email:

– Monterey County –

Steve Vagnini-Director:

Assistant Director: Tim Patchin

Secretary/Treasurer: Joe Braun


– Santa Cruz –

Matt Cole-Director:


– San Benito County –

Steve Harris-Director/Instructor-

Phone: (831) 333-6615  and Email: or

       Richard Primont-Asst. Director/Lead Instructor-

Phone: (831) 801-9309 and Email:

Bob Quaid-Secretary/Treasurer

Ana Garcia-Instructor

Bruce Gilsenen-Lead Instructor

Ramona Hill-Lead Instructor

Richard Primont- Lead Instructor, 2nd Level

Martha Quezada-Instructor Assistant

Devin Espinoza-Instructor

Doug Moore-Instructor

Jim Asceves-Lead Instructor (AKA Cisco Jim the singing Cowboy)

Brandon Kett-Instructor

Trisha Kett-Instructor

Facebook Link:


Stephan Avanozian-Director, Email:

Susan King- Secretary/Treasurer, Email:

Vernelle Gomez-Boyd-Assistant Director, Email:




-Colorado Corporate Office-

Ray & Lousie Nelson -Founders: 

P.O. Box 494, Milliken, CO  80543

Phone: 770-861-2442



-Coweta County-

Adam Griffith-Director:

– Fayette County –

Todd Bethel-Director:



-Franklin County –

Bret Hoag-Director:



– Allen J Whitt Jr. Chapter –

Allen J Whitt Chapter Website

Director – Donna Hammond

Assistant Director – Nancy Johnstone

Treasurer – Tanya Adams

Marketing – Mindy Whitt-Ostroski


North Carolina

-Charlotte County-

Will Terpenig-Director

Nick Langston-Director:



– Pacific Northwest –

-Depoe Bay-

Richard Salazar-Director:

Assistant Director: Karen Murray

Secretary/Treasurer: Linda Perez




– King County –

Tim Wong-Director:

Assistant Director: Jack Ballard

Secretary Treasure: Derick Rackhorn





GNG Canada Twitter

GNG Canada Instagram


Contra Costa, California QR Code:

Back to Top