September 11, 2023 I Philanthropy

Musician Ben Folds Teams with Casio on ‘Keys for Kids’ Initiative

Student Kris Wilkerson and musician Ben Folds at the Keys for Kids event.

On August 25, singer-songwriter Ben Folds lead fundraising event Keys for Kids — his initiative which provides school-age kids with access to keyboards and proper music lessons at little or no cost.

The event, held at the Charlotte Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, was attended by approximately 110 people and represented the first of a series of fundraising opportunities in the coming months to support the campaign. It was hosted by Trip and Laura Park of the Triad Foundation, who have been supporters of Keys for Kids since the program’s inception a little over a year ago.

The event featured a Keys for Kids video and words of encouragement from Rhonda Bellamy, a former public radio host and CEO and founder of the Arts Council of Wilmington, North Carolina. A highlight of the evening was a performance by high school sophomore Kris Wilkerson, a piano student from Arts+, one of seven non-profit organizations from across the state that are recipients of keyboards and funds through the Keys for Kids program. Folds himself also played a seven-song piano set.

As a fan of Casio keyboards, Folds invited the musical instrument manufacturer last year to partner with him on the Keys for Kids initiative. As a result, the company donated 35 Casiotone CT-S200 keyboards.

A silent auction during the fundraiser included a Casio Privia PX-S7000 digital piano, autographed memorabilia from Fold’s early career, and signed items donated by artist friends, including William Shatner, Sara Bareilles, Renee Fleming, Keb’Mo’, Pam Tillis, Kesha and Mo Willems.

Since the program’s inception, 187 youth from the seven non-profit organizations have directly benefited from the funds raised, which have been used to hire piano instructors and help develop an ongoing piano curriculum for the students.

The North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Foundation help administer Keys for Kids and selected the seven non-profit organizations, which have agreed to a two-year initial commitment to the program. They cover the state’s urban and rural areas and work with students who reflect a diverse ethnic and demographic spectrum.

“This first year has been critical in helping us better understand the need and how best to address it through this kind of public-private partnership,” said Folds. “We’re off to a great start, and we encourage everyone to join us in supporting music education in North Carolina.”

More News

See all