These Celebrity-Backed Charitable Foundations Are Doing So Much Good
With great power comes great responsibility, and that definitely applies to the biggest movie stars and musicians of Hollywood. In the age of social media, celebrities have more of a voice than ever before, and their dedicated followers are always listening. Thankfully, a lot of celebrities are using their amplified platforms for good. Not only are stars shelling out their own money to charities, but many have founded organizations of their own. When it comes to celebrity-backed charitable foundations, these are the best ones you can feel good about supporting.
This list highlights the celebrities putting their money toward communities that need it most. Some are serving disadvantaged neighborhoods, others are fighting for equality, while many are vouching for increased education funding. But the one thing they all have in common? They're advocating for real change. Additionally, after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers, many have stepped up to demand racial justice as well. It's become increasingly clear celebrities have the ability to sway their audience, and these ones are definitely taking steps in the right direction.
1. Will & Jada Smith: WJSFF
Will and Jada Smith founded WJSFF, aka the Will & Jada Smith Foundation, in 1996 with the goal of making the world “better because we touched it.”
Their motto? "To improve lives and uplift humanity." The husband and wife duo do this by focusing on four main sectors: arts and education, empowerment, health, and sustainability. Since 2016, the foundation has hosted a Careers in Entertainment tour to expose youth from underserved communities to career paths in the entertainment industry.
Will shared a meaningful quote about his long-running organization on its website, writing, “I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here. I want my life, I want my work, my family, I want it to mean something. It’s like if you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better."
2. John Legend: Show Me Campaign
John Legend's Show Me Campaign focuses on two main issues: education and mass incarceration. The org seeks to give every child access to a quality education by partnering with other education-based programs such as Teach for America, Teach for All, Harlem Village Academies, and New Profit. Additionally, in 2015, the Show Me Campaign launched a 5-year campaign to reduce mass incarceration rates in the United States by investing in education, rehabilitation, and effective re-entry services.
Legend's organization has some deep-rooted inspiration. As he shares on the site, the idea for Show Me came after the singer won an essay competition at age 15. In the essay, he wrote about making it big and being able to use his influence to give back. So, when Show Me Campaign was launched in 2007, it had been a long time coming.
3. Pharrell Williams: From One Hand to AnOTHER
Backed by Pharrell Williams, From One Hand to AnOTHER is hyper-focused on providing quality education to children from underprivileged backgrounds.
FOHTA had humble beginnings, but has grown into a massive success. The singer started his charity as a school supply giveaway at a local park in his hometown, but FOHTA now provides over 1,700 children across the U.S. with free summer camp opportunities.
Pharrell kick-started the foundation in 2008 after traveling abroad, and realized it was an opportunity he'd never been granted before. He decided he wanted to provide children with the right tools for success.
Pharrell says the FOHTA motto is “to change the world one kid at a time by providing them the tools and resources to meet their unique potential.”
4. Beyonce - BeyGOOD
BeyGOOD is Beyoncé's charitable foundation where she partners with other foundations to address the issues she's most passionate about.
In 2018, she joined with her husband JAY-Z to dish out $100,000 scholarships to 11 high school students nationwide. Most recently, she announced she and her husband were donating $1.5 million in support of Black Lives Matter. She also used her platform to urge fans to sign petitions seeking justice for the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who died at the hands of police.
5. Jennifer Lopez: The Lopez Family Foundation
Jennifer Lopez is definitely still Jenny from the block. Along with her sister Lynda Lopez, J. Lo founded The Lopez Family Foundation to advocate for and invest in programs that "make a positive, measurable impact on communities and makes quality healthcare and health education available for underserved mothers and their children."
The Lopez Family Foundation started out in Puerto Rico in 2010, but has since become a global non-profit organization. Lopez shared the inspiration behind her foundation in an October 2014 interview with Variety.
“Very early after my twins were born, my daughter (Emme) developed this bump on the back of her head,” Lopez said. “So I rushed to the hospital, and it was the middle of the night and the doctor met me there. And I had all these privileges, which wasn’t lost on me. I went back that night and thought, what if I didn’t have that?"
In 2014, she opened the Center for a Healthy Childhood in partnership with the Montefiore Medical Center, which promotes healthy eating, exercise and access to care for women, children, and families in the Bronx.
6. Miley Cyrus: Happy Hippie
Founded by Miley Cyrus in 2014, the Happy Hippie foundation focuses on fighting injustices faced by homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and other vulnerable populations.
However, following George Floyd's murder, the foundation has been incredibly outspoken about righting racial injustice and ongoing police brutality. On June 6, the organization shared an Instagram post titled "40 ways you can help right now," with a list of ways to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Happy Hippie has also partnered with Gender Spectrum to create support groups for 1,300 transgender and gender-expansive youth, as well as the MAC AIDS Fund, to help transgender people living with HIV secure medical care and housing. In May 2015, she linked up with Ariana Grande to host a "Backyard Sessions" benefit concert with proceeds going to the foundation.
7. Chance The Rapper: Social Works
Social Works is a youth empowerment charity, and it's one Chance The Rapper holds close to his heart. Chance was born and bred in Chicago, so it's where his organization is based. He founded the organization in 2016, and outlined five main issues the organization would work to address: education, mental health, homelessness, and performing and literary arts.
The rapper is heavily involved in the organization's day-to-day operations, and frequently posts on his social media accounts about its projects. Most recently, he announced he would be providing free lunch to Chicago Public Schools students.
8. Colin Kaepernick: Know Your Rights
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick famously took a knee during the National Anthem at his Sept. 1, 2016 game to protest ongoing police brutality in America against Black people. The powerful statement stirred up controversy in the NFL with those who were unwilling to acknowledge the issues he was trying to shine a light on.
Since then, the athlete has only further dedicated his platform to fighting social injustice in founding Know Your Rights. The campaign aims to increase access to higher education, teach skills of self empowerment, and educates people on their rights when stopped by police.
In addition to raising awareness on these issues, Kaepernick put his money where his mouth is. In 2018, he completed his million dollar pledge, where he donated $1 million to 37 different organizations fighting for justice.
Currently, he is focused on fighting on behalf of Black Lives Matter supporters who were arrested while protesting the police killing of George Floyd. "Freedom Fighters who’ve been arrested - we're also working w/ our lawyers to file civil rights cases against the police for their terroristic acts," a June 10 Instagram post from his organization read.
9. Alicia Keys: Keep a Child Alive
Keep a Child Alive was co-founded by Alicia Keys and Leigh Blake in 2003. They were inspired to start the organization after seeing success with their Family Care clinic in Mombasa, Kenya. The duo expanded their efforts across Africa and Asia, and now reach communities in in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, India and more.
The organization is committed to empowering children and young people with the necessary resources, confidence and opportunities to reach their full potential in life. The donation-based charity sends resources to communities in need. For example, they were able to send money to more than 900 orphaned and vulnerable children in Soweto, South Africa. Currently, Keys is focused on emergency relief for those affected by the coronavirus in El Salvador, where the virus has hit especially hard.
10. Shakira: Barefoot Foundation
Shakira's Barefoot foundation is all about making education available universally. When she was just 18 years old, Shakira launched the foundation, dedicated to helping children who have been victimized by poverty and displacement all over the world, starting with Colombia and then America.
For Shakira, Barefoot actually has a double meaning. Not only is it the name of her organization, but it's the name of one of her earliest albums. Pies Descalzos translates to Barefoot in English.
11. Oprah Winfrey: The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation
The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation was founded by Winfrey and supports her leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Oprah allocates funds for the foundation towards women, children, families, and education.
In 2012, the first class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy graduated with a 100 percent pass rate, and eight years later, she's still setting girls on the path towards meeting their full potential.
12. Meek Mill: REFORM Alliance
Meek Mill himself has been a victim of America's broken judicial system. The rapper was sentenced to two to four years in prison for parole violations, an abnormally long sentence that inspired the widespread #FreeMeek campaign.
With the REFORM Alliance, Meek Mill joins a slew of other activists, including JAY-Z and Van Jones, to fight for those who have also faced unjust convictions.
The mission of the REFORM Alliance is to "dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system, starting with probation and parole."
13. Vic Mensa: Save Money Save Life
Founded by rapper Vic Mensa, Save Money Save Life's mission is to use art and entertainment to foster sustainable change in society.
In addition to addressing racial injustice in his music, Mensa says the overall purpose of SMSL is to highlight and empower BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color).
For starters, the foundation created what they call Street Medix, a program comprised of volunteers who help provide care, such as first aid, in situations frequently neglected by traditional institutions such as protests and disaster areas. Additionally, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the team has been distributing hundreds of Emergency Supply Kits each week.
SMSL accepts both donations and volunteers.
14. Jennifer Garner: Save The Children
Jennifer Garner is the founder of Save The Children, which focuses on bettering health, education, gender equality, emergency response, and policy throughout the world. In 2017, Save The Children helped more than 3 million children in Syria and surrounding countries by providing primary health care, nutrition, education and psychosocial services to child refugees and their families.
The actress' foundation has reached 134 million Children in 120 countries to date, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, they've committed to helping marginalized communities cope with the health crisis.
15. J. Cole: Dreamville Foundation
The Dreamville Foundation is a nonprofit that was founded by rapper J. Cole in 2011, which aims to provide youth in underserved communities with the tools they need to achieve their dreams.
In addition to funding school supplies, Cole's foundation helped out when Hurricane Florence struck his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina in September 2018 by providing food stations, stocking pantries, and providing temporary housing solutions.
16. Matt Damon: Water.org
Matt Damon founded his nonprofit organization Water.org in hopes of bringing clean water to the world in ways that are safe, accessible, and cost-effective. He's helped about 22 million people around the world meet water and sanitation needs by providing small and affordable loans through microfinancing methods. The organization primarily works throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
According to Damon, it was through school service trips to Mexico and Guatemala that his eyes were opened to the world around him, fueling his hunger to make a difference. "It really was a gift," he told Town & Country in May 2016. "It gave me an understanding early on of a world that was bigger than mine."
While Damon's efforts with Water.org are mostly international, he has also spoken out against clean water issues U.S. citizens face. For example, in 2016, Damon called for Michigan governor Rick Snyder to step down after learning of the water crisis in Flint.