Children’s lives are being transformed in the Los Angeles Unified School District; if you visit Monlux Elementary School you can get a glimpse of it. There, on Bellaire Avenue in North Hollywood, Megan Barlow is helping illustrate math concepts, teach history, further reading and comprehension skills, and build vocabulary – all through the power of song. When I visited her class I was amazed at the level of engagement and connection to other concepts that created these “Ah ha” moments for both the district teachers and children. Barlow is no ordinary teacher. She is employed by the M.U.S.I.C. Foundation, a Tarzana nonprofit founded in 1995 that is dedicated to using the power of music to help kids excel academically. Barlow teaches music to students and integrates her curriculum with the curricula taught by district teachers, creating a powerful teaching tool that makes learning interactive and exciting. In the Valley, schools including Chandler Elementary in Sherman Oaks and Serrania Elementary in Woodland Hills have benefited by working with the foundation. The results are improved performance among both teachers and students. The group’s M.U.S.I.C. acronym is to the point: Music Unlocks Success In Children. Studies worldwide have shown that music motivates children to learn, helps them recall information, develops critical thinking skills and improves self-esteem. Today, about 2,000 elementary students in the San Fernando Valley are benefiting from the efforts of the foundation. District teachers also are benefitting by learning concepts demonstrated in the music class that encourage them to try new techniques to explain and illustrate key concepts so they can connect with more students. The Parent Teacher Association has been the force behind the effort to bring this program into schools. It wants children to experience the advantages that musical education provides and it has worked with school administrators to bring the foundation to their schools. It’s been particularly helpful as the district has struggled to educate the growing population of special needs children amid increased class sizes. The M.U.S.I.C. Foundation provides the additional, specially trained teachers, but this doesn’t come cheap: on average it costs the foundation $130 a year for each child. This covers the cost of the teacher, classroom, instruments and materials. But as the government sector has shrunk, it has become more difficult for the foundation to raise the funds to do its job. As a result, organizations such as the M.U.S.I.C. Foundation need more and more private and corporate support. The fact is, private companies and public corporations can afford to give more. According to a recent report by the UCLA Center for Civil Society, individual donations to charities account for 75 percent of funding, while corporate donations account for only 5 percent, with the other 20 percent coming from the government or foundations in the form of grants. So what’s in it for the private sector? Businesses have long decried the inability of public schools to properly educate the next generation of workers. With an increasingly competitive and globalized economy, we need to arm our future generations with the tools and education to provide leadership for the future. Today about 80 percent of business leaders have benefited by a music education and the Valley is at the forefront of providing these experiences. We have the opportunity to do it on a large scale by making this program available to more schools. There are also direct benefits. Charities offer a unique way to enhance a company’s marketing efforts by increasing media exposure in ways companies may not be able to afford otherwise. Sponsorships to charities can create potent promotional tools to drive sales, increase customer loyalty and increase media attention. Cause Marketing Forum, a N.Y. group dedicated to building alliances between businesses and non-profits, reports that sponsors spent $18 billion in sponsorships in 2012. Projections for 2013 show increases by 6 percent, making sponsorship the fastest-growing form of marketing in the U.S. The M.U.S.I.C. Foundation – with a strong mission statement, a dedicated board, and a talented staff under the leadership of Chief Executive Kristin Thibedeau – deserves your support. Wells Fargo & Co. is a big supporter of the M.U.S.I.C. Foundation, donating not only time but taking a membership seat on the foundation’s board. It’s an example worth emulating. We hope you will join us. Shayna Kasbee is a marketing consultant with Kasbee Profit Strategies, based in Woodland Hills. To learn more about the M.U.S.I.C. Foundation visit its website at www.Supporttmf.org, or contact Kristin Thibedeau at (818) 430-1931.