Musician Ben Folds launched a charitable initiative this year which aims to provide young people in North Carolina with access to affordable music lessons. 

Folds established the program, Keys for Kids, in partnership with the North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Foundation.

The initiative will support a network of organizations across the state with funding and keyboard donations to make affordable lessons for economically disadvantaged youth possible.

One of the partnering organizations is Authoring Action, a Winston-Salem nonprofit that provides creative writing and arts programming for local youth. 

Ben Folds visited the organization earlier this week. He grew up in Winston-Salem and says the community gave him lots of opportunities to learn about music at a young age. 

“It wasn't because of a wealthy upbringing or anything. It was because people of all walks of life cared about giving a kid as much music and art and general education as you can get,” he said. “And you know, you get older and you realize that doesn't just happen. People have to do it. And so if someone like me is just going to fly the coop and not come back and help out, that’s not good.”

Folds says he worked with his manager to determine how to give back and support music education in the state. 

“What’s the best way to help? And it seemed to be to tie together a number of nonprofits, ask them what they need, and throw our support behind them the best that we can and watch it grow,” he said. “So that's what we're doing here. And we started with Winston-Salem because that's where I grew up.”

Those interested in free keyboard lessons through the Keys for Kids program should contact Lynn Rhoades with Authoring Action at


Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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