Lead Story West Edition

Inglewood school receives $1,500 music program donation

INGLEWOOD — After suffering a stroke of bad luck last spring when their music teacher, Benjamin Golbin, was killed in a car accident, Inglewood’s Children of Promise Preparatory Academy has received some unexpected good fortune.

The Mockingbird Foundation, a nonprofit founded and run by fans of the alternative rock band Phish, has granted the school $1,500 to supplement the music program.

The academy is one of 15 schools throughout the country to receive a donation. The foundation made its selections in cities where the band has performed this summer. Phish played at the Forum in Inglewood on July 22.

The Mockingbird Foundation did not choose the Academy based on Golbin’s death, but the circumstances surrounding the incident “certainly made it easier to find,” Executive Director Ellis Godard said.

Golbin, 36, was killed on Jan. 15 when a suspected street racer lost control of his car and crashed onto the roof of Golbin’s Honda, which was traveling in the other direction. The incident took place on Crenshaw Boulevard in the middle of the day.

The driver, Alfredo Davila Perez, was charged with one count each of murder and vehicular manslaughter and faces up to 15 years to life in prison. The music teacher was killed instantly.

Golbin, who was in his third year at Children of Promise, had become “like family” at the school, said Principal Trena Thompson.

“He took a lot of time off the clock for the kids,” Thompson said. “A couple of them have named their pet fish after him.”

The principal said she would most likely use the funds to buy instruments rather than renting them. She said she also plans to buy replacements of music books since students can often lose them.

The Academy’s music program is operated with donations and fundraisers such as cookie dough and candy bar sales from the students. Last year Wells Fargo made a donation of $1,000.

“Every dollar helps,” Thompson said.

Golbin came to the school through AMUSE Music Center in Palos Verdes, a music store and resource center with which the Academy has a partnership. Thompson said it has connected her with most of the program’s donors.

The Mockingbird Foundation, which serves as the guardian of the intellectual property of Phish and its history, only fulfills about 10 percent of its grant requests.

According to Godard, the nonprofit receives more than 1,500 proposals per year, sometimes up to 2,000, and is able to fund about 15.

“There’s just so many schools that need help, since art and music programs are being cut,” Godard said.

Despite the fact that Children of Promise Academy does not have a steady flow of support, Thompson said the music program has expanded since its inception five years ago.

While originally confined to students in seventh and eighth grades, the entire school, kindergarten through eighth grade, now benefits. The school also has started a chess club, and both activities have improved students’ grades and confidence, according to Thompson.

“Music and chess provide so many critical thinking skills as well as logic and discipline,” she said.

As for the future, Thompson expressed a desire to grow the music program even further. While students can play the violin, clarinet and trumpet, she said she would like to add a piano and a choir.

It is a plan that Golbin, who worked to bring music education to every demographic, would have approved.