The organization provides nearly 1,800 instruments annually to schools without music programs, aiding about 10,000 students annually.
“My whole life has been music. I could not imagine anything else,” Van Halen told CNN. “It’s a must. It has to be taught.”
His decision to donate the instruments came from a desire to give kids who may not be looking to pursue college another avenue.
“Eddie Van Halen found us in 2011 after researching organizations who would take the guitars and make sure they got into kids’ hands in needy schools,” program assistant Anne Hilbert tells Billboard. “We were happy to do that, and he has been a supportive fan ever since.”
“It was very difficult at first to find a charity that [takes guitars],” Van Halen said. “They all just wanted money.”
“We want to give the students nice things,” foundation president and CEO Felice Mancini says, adding that music is a “safe haven” for children. “They deserve nice things,” she said.