Kristy Corwin comes from family of musicians and educators. Her grandparents Russell and Gina Garcia worked to offer educational opportunities to children around the world. Russell was a composer with numerous film scores to his name, and Gina is a singer and author.
To honor their contributions— and start her own—Corwin co-founded the Build a Better World Foundation in 2016. The foundation supports organizations working in the areas of music, education and human rights.
“I wanted to continue on their legacy of their life’s work, dedicated to music and humanitarian work and the empowerment of youth worldwide,” said the Oak Park resident and foundation president.
Last week, Agoura Hills-based Build a Better World celebrated its official designation as a nonprofit organization with a reception and ribbon-cutting outside the Agoura High School performing arts education center. Among the 40 people in attendance were members of the various organizations receiving donations, city officials and volunteers. The school’s jazz combo played as guests snacked and mingled.
Corwin said she first had the idea for the foundation in 2011 and the foundation hosted its first fundraiser last year. After all the work to make the idea a reality, she said, it was an amazing experience to be able to gather Sept. 21 with friends, supporters and volunteers to celebrate.
“It’s so rewarding to see this happening. It’s like the beginning of what we’re going to be doing starting next year,” Corwin said. “We’ll be uniting many different organizations and having the youth all involved and producing these purposeful events to help raise awareness and funds for already existing organizations and projects.”
Corwin and Build a Better World board member Tamineh Roshanian took time to thank the donors and participants before introducing the evening’s honorees, composers and arrangers Robert Porter and Bob Alcivar.
Porter and Alcivar both worked with and learned from Corwin’s grandfather at various points in their careers. Alcivar is known for his arrangements on the 1969 Fifth Dimension hit album “The Age of Aquarius,” and Porter contributed music to the TV shows “Lassie” and “Woody Woodpecker,” among others.
Both men were presented with awards for their lifelong dedication to music.
After the awards came the oversize checks. Six organizations each received $500, money that was raised at a Build a Better World benefit concert last December. Corwin said she waited until the organization had its official nonprofit status before donating the money.
Actor and Agoura Hills resident Rainn Wilson, known for his role on the TV show “The Office,” was in attendance. He accepted a donation to his organization, Lide, which funds education initiatives for girls in Haiti.
“I’m really pleased to be a part of this,” Wilson said. “I know $500 might not seem like a lot of money, but in Haiti it can pay a student’s tuition for a year of secondary school.”
Donations were also given to the educational organizations Oceti Wakan, Full Circle Learning, and the STAR school, as well as the environmental group Earth Citizen’s Organization.
The final element was a ribbon-cutting to symbolize Build a Better World’s launch as a designated nonprofit organization.
For her part, Corwin is taking a long-term view of the organization, not just looking at the next event.
“Every year we’re going to be holding two large events,” she said. “One will be in April for Earth Day and the other will be in September for the U.N. International Day of Peace.”