17-year-old Toronto trumpeter reaches crowdfunding goal to attend Juilliard

A teen trumpeter with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Juilliard School in New York City has raised enough money to cover his first semester at the famed performing arts conservatory.

William Leathers raises more than $65,500 to help pay for 1st year of prestigious school's program

William Leathers was recently accepted to Juilliard's undergraduate music program and has now raised enough to cover his first year at the famed arts school. (Instagram)

A young trumpeter with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Juilliard School in New York City has raised enough money to cover his first semester at the famed performing arts conservatory.

Toronto's William Leathers, 17, who was profiled by CBC Toronto on Monday, topped his $65,500 goal on the online fundraising website YouCaring on Wednesday after officially starting his fundraiser on Saturday.

"I'm really blown away by the great number of people who are willing to step up and help me in such little time," he told CBC Toronto on Wednesday. "That's one year at Juilliard collected in just a few days." 

The teen was one of three trumpeters this year given the opportunity to study at Juilliard's elite undergraduate music program.
Leathers has surpassed his goal on the crowdfunding site YouCaring. (YouCaring)

The school is known for its highly competitive and prestigious arts programs in dance, acting and music. At any given time, there are only about 800 students from 42 countries enrolled.

As an international student, Leathers needed $91,000 a year for four years to cover his tuition and housing. His family managed to put together $25,500, but he turned to crowdfunding for the rest.
William Leathers was one of 3 trumpeters accepted this year to Juilliard's undergraduate program. 1:40

Although he received some scholarship money from Juilliard, Leathers wasn't eligible for a majority of Canadian scholarships because he's going to a school outside the country.

While he reached his goal for this year, Leathers still has much more to raise, as the entire four-year program is expected to cost $364,000. 

Foundation to help others in the works

The trumpeter already wants to help others who are struggling to find a way to pay for school.

Leathers said he plans to use 10 per cent of what he's raised so far to create a foundation to help other young artists. 

"It's not just me, there are a lot of young artists that work hard and then get into a great school and they can't afford it," he said.

Leathers, left, plays at a Hamilton charity event at 11. (YouTube)

If he is able to cover his entire school expenses, Leathers plans to give the remainder of what's raised to the foundation. 

Although there's still a ways to go before reaching his final goal, Leathers said he's grateful for the support so far. 

"It's a really great feeling to have a thousand-plus people donating to the campaign — a thousand people that don't know me," he said. "To all those people, I'd like to thank you."

With files from Julia Knope