Celebrities have a platform and fanbase that allows them to have a voice. Many of them choose to use their voice to raise awareness on the topics that mean the most to them. Focusing on social justice, AIDS relief, mental health, education, and economic disparity, here are five celebrities who have created their own foundations to help support these causes.
Actor, singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer John Legend created the Show Me Campaign, modeled on an essay he wrote at the age of 15. In the essay, Legend wrote about his dream of becoming famous for the purpose of having the resources to help others and promote social justice and equality.
Legend’s dream came true, and he stuck to his essay. The Show Me Campaign works to give children quality education regardless of their economic class. In order to reduce mass incarceration, the Show Me Campaign launched a 5-year movement and operation. Using the information that there are more prisons in America than colleges and universities, the Show Me Campaign supports spending funding on education and rehabilitation instead of increasing incarceration levels.
The Show Me Campaign works with Teach for America, New Profit, Harlem Village Academies, and Teach for All in order to back and encourage teachers, who Legend’s team says are “the single most important factor for student achievement in our schools.”
In working with the aforementioned groups, Legend, and his team strive to reverse the school-to-prison pipeline, which is the disproportionate trend of minors and young adults becoming incarcerated due to punitive school policies.
You can donate here.
One of the best-selling artists of all time, Elton John, established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. The foundation’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic through education and the elimination of discrimination against AIDS-affected communities. The foundation also speaks to governments in hopes of emphasizing the gravity of the epidemic while creating models and representing data to change how people perceive AIDS-related illnesses and death.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation partners with other causes, including RADIAN, a partnership concentrating on AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Breakthrough, an initiative to accelerate the end of AIDS in America, centering around the southern United States; MenStar, a coalition that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of HIV in men in sub-Saharan Africa; UK Social Impact Bond, which works on bringing those with HIV into medical care; and the COVID-19 emergency fund, intending to diminish the damage COVID-19 can, will, has, and will do.
Elton John believes we have the potential to eradicate AIDS, saying, “If we can find the love as a global community to agree that every life has equal value. If we can summon the compassion to provide treatment and prevention for everyone living with HIV – and I mean everyone, no matter who they are, where they live, or how rich or poor they may be – we can end AIDS forever.”
Their website states that they have saved five million lives, supported 3,000 related projects, and raised $525 million worldwide.
You can get involved here by donating money or crypto, attending events, partnering with the foundation, or leaving a Legacy Gift – involving the Elton John AIDS Foundation in long-term financial strategies.
Eccentric singer-songwriter and actress Lady Gaga co-founded the Born This Way Foundation with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, in 2012. Gaga, Germanotta, and their dedicated workers have the mission to cultivate kindness and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. They do this through programming, partnerships, and initiating important and helpful conversations.
Since its creation, the Born This Way Foundation has received more than 291 million pledged acts of kindness and partnered with 2,652 nonprofits and schools. The Foundation has also supported more than 600 nonprofits, donating more than $3 million to their efforts and organizing over 200 service events.
Supported programs include Channel Kindness, a digital platform created to facilitate a safe space for young people to share their stories; Be There Certificate, an online mental health course meant to educate people on how to receive help and know when others need support, #BeKind2, a trend encouraging people to participate in an act of kindness every day, each year from September 1st – September 21st; teen Mental Health First Aids (tMHFA,) an in-person training program that teaches high school students how to help and support their own and others mental health; BTWF in Las Vegas, a continuation of the Born This Way Foundation that provides resources in Las Vegas; and the #PleaseStayPledge, a resource, and pledge to provide information and tools to help people with mental illness survive.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, you can seek help here.
You can donate to the Born This Way Foundation here.
Born and raised in Colombia, “Queen of Latin Music,” Shakira, started the Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation in 1997. The nonprofit addresses the U.N’s Sustainable Development goal to bring improved public education to Colombian children, especially in its most vulnerable communities.
The Pies Descalzos Foundation has two main efforts, to build educational infrastructure to boost access to schools and to develop projects with teachers to increase educational standards and expectations.
In speaking on her foundation and the importance of education, Shakira said, “Believe me, to see a child who did not have opportunities to succeed manage to get ahead and obtain equal opportunities in adulthood is such a satisfying feeling that even surpasses that of earning a Grammy.”
The Pies Descalzos Foundation has worked with several cities and municipalities in Colombia to provide greater quality education and the proper spaces for it in Guajira, Tibú, Quibdó, Cartagena, and Barranquilla.
You can make a one-time, monthly, corporate, or commemorative donation in order to help support the over 25,900 beneficiary children and increase the number of teachers trained in classroom innovation here. You can also sign up to volunteer in their three main areas of work, including education, second language, and psychosocial here.
One of the most successful performers of her generation, Beyoncé, used her platform in 2013 to form the public charity foundation BeyGOOD in order to support various global efforts, including education, career development, housing, and disaster relief.
The charity helps balance economic disparities, as well as helping marginalized and under-resourced communities, providing opportunities to receive scholarships, internships, or fellowships, and supporting entrepreneurs.
Referred to as a verb on the BeyGOOD website, the definition of BeyGOOD is “to focus on economic equity by supporting organizations that serve marginalized and underserved communities with educational scholarships, internships that lead to job placement, and entrepreneurship support for business sustainability.”
The Black Parade Route, an offshoot of BeyGOOD, supports those affected by inequities. It has supported 1,000 small businesses via grants and sustainability support services and has provided $100,000 in grants for small businesses in each of the following cities London, Chicago, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, and New Orleans.
Renaissance Scholars is another segment of BeyGOOD, with Beyoncé committing $1 million to help 100 students pay for their education by giving out $10,000 in scholarships.
These remarkable celebrities have used their voices to create platforms to make a change.
You, too, can be part of the change. Make a financial contribution if you can, or simply share the information with friends and family on social media.