Information and news about philanthropy

Philanthropists in American Professional SportsThere are many American athletes who are not only known for their athletic abilities, but also their philanthropic efforts. Here are four of the most impactful:

Roger Federer
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017, Roger Federer has seen a career in professional tennis filled with success. His remarkable performance on the court was closely rivaled by his humanitarian efforts over the years. The Roger Federer Foundation works in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Switzerland, to improve struggling educational systems. In 2016, the foundation spent over $6 million to improve access to and quality of early education for impoverished children. Federer serves as a shining example of how charity and sports can successfully go hand-in-hand.

Madieu Williams
Madieu Williams is a former NFL safety who played for multiple teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings. Williams grew up in Sierra Leone in West Africa and moved to the U.S. when he was nine years old. He created the Madieu Williams Foundation in 2006 and returns to Sierra Leone every year to help improve education and build schools. The Madieu Williams Foundation also focuses on improving the health of children living in poverty in both Sierra Leone and in the U.S. Williams has also donated $2 million to build the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives at the University of Maryland.

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki is the highest-scoring foreign-born basketball player in NBA history. Born in Germany, Nowitzki came to America to play professional basketball as a young adult and has since been named an all-star 13 times. Nowitzki was the first European player to play in an NBA all-star game in 2007, and as his career took off, so did his philanthropic efforts. In 2013, Nowitzki was named the German ambassador for UNICEF, with a focus on eliminating child hunger and malnutrition around the world. He also started the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, which works to fight poverty and hunger in Africa.

David Ortiz
Born in the Dominican Republic, David Ortiz came to America and saw a long, prosperous baseball career, winning two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox. One of the greatest to play the game of baseball, Ortiz is also one of the most dedicated philanthropists in American professional sports. Ortiz has always prioritized improving the quality of – and the ease of access to – healthcare for children. The David Ortiz Children’s Fund works in the Dominican Republic and in the U.S., and has a focus on providing adequate healthcare to impoverished children with congenital heart defects.

Regardless of team affiliation, these athletes are using their fame and their platforms to make a real and tangible difference in the fight against global poverty. In addition to these efforts, the awareness they raise surrounding these issues has surely inspired – and will continue to inspire – others to contribute to the fight against poverty and make a difference.

Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

Forever 21 gives back to those in need, having carried products over the years in aid of a number of organizations. Purchases from the popular retailer have contributed to the donation of $11.5 million worth of merchandise throughout 2016 to global charities such as Soles4Souls, On Your Feet and the Feed Project.

Soles4Souls is a nonprofit that collects and distributes shoes and clothing to disadvantaged communities in 127 countries around the world and throughout the U.S. As a part of its partnership with Forever 21, Soles4Souls has donated more than 800,000 units of clothing. Initially founded as a disaster relief organization, Soles4Souls provided footwear to those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In many developing nations where walking is the primary mode of transportation, millions of people lack proper footwear to get around, and as a result, are exposed to unsanitary conditions that can lead to disease. These conditions contribute to the ongoing cycle of poverty, and the vision of Soles4Souls is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and its efforts to provide a new pair of shoes to each child in need help work toward that goal.

Forever 21 gives back through its collaboration with the On Your Feet Family Resource Center, which provides assistance to low-income or homeless families and individuals, shelters, missions, board and care facilities and other organizations. Forever 21 has provided nearly 700,000 units worth of clothing donations, which have reached victims of natural disasters in Nepal, Chile, Bohol and Haiti.

FEED was founded by Lauren Bush in 2007 and has transformed into a movement fighting against hunger in a tangible way. FEED creates handcrafted products, such as bags, pouches and bracelets, using eco-friendly materials and fair labor. Giving these products raises aid that is ultimately delivered in the form of school meals, micronutrients, mother-child nutrition, Vitamin A and emergency relief. Together, Forever 21 and FEED have provided more than 71,000 meals.

While designing and keeping up with the latest trends for consumers, it is also evident that Forever 21 gives back to vulnerable communities. By establishing alliances with such charitable organizations, great numbers of people in underprivileged areas have received the assistance needed to ease their poverty and hunger and move toward prosperity.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Howard Buffet

Farmer and philanthropist, Howard Buffet, made it his mission in life to help end global hunger. He was recently interviewed by PBS on his current work in Africa helping farmers to generate sustainable agricultural solutions.

Buffet told PBS that his foundation, The Howard G. Buffet Foundation, invests in global food security while currently working on a few different projects. Primarily, they are building three hydro plants in the Eastern Congo. Hydro plants produce impressive amounts of electricity for communities.

Harvard University professor, Juma Calestous, told PBS news how the willingness Buffet shows to go hands-on and visit the Democratic Republic of Congo has brought him respect across the continent.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an area where not many donors are interested in operating,” Calestous said in a PBS news video. “He’s taking very high risks in going to those areas.”

Howard Buffet said in the video that areas of conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, are where impoverished people need the most help because they have devastated infrastructure and no governance. However, his other project is taking place in the peaceful nation of Rwanda, focused on training young Rwandan farmers.

“I also think we [the U.S.] have a huge responsibility internationally, because we are a leader,” Buffet said in a PBS news video. “And we need to maintain that leadership.”

Buffet’s work in Africa is critical because although the continent has vast agricultural potential, its per capita food production has drastically declined. The Howard G. Buffet Foundation seeks to invest where others have not and it fills critical gaps that lead to sustainable change.

“We’re not going to end world hunger,” Howard Buffet said in the PBS video. “But, you know, I think every step we can take in that direction is something positive.”

Kerri Whelan

Photo: Flickr

Malaria ResearchAccording to the Gates Foundation, malaria continues to be a major health concern in almost 100 countries, infecting 207 million people and killing 627,000 individuals in 2012 alone. Despite an increase in malaria funding over the past several years, challenges remain in completely eradicating this disease.

However, fighting malaria is one of the Foundation’s main missions and the organization has contributed $2 billion to the cause to date. Notably, the Gates Foundation launched a multi-year strategy known as Accelerate to Zero in 2013 that focuses on making new partnerships for more efficient, affordable drugs.

In addition, this past April, the organization offered the biotechnology innovations firm Amyris an additional $5 million, in the form of a stock buyback, for its malaria research project.

Amyris is a biotechnology innovation firm whose partnership with the Gates Foundation spans roughly ten years. Replacing the relatively expensive and time-consuming method of directly extracting artemisinin from the Chinese Sweet Wormwood plant, Amyris created a new strain of Baker’s yeast microbes that produce artemisinic acid. According to the firm, the result is a “precursor of artemisinin, an effective anti-malarial drug.”

With malaria research grants from the Gates Foundation and partnership with the Institute for OneWorld Health and the University of California, Berkley, the organization has since distributed the microbes to Sanofi for mass manufacture.

In 2015, the company was awarded the United Nations Global Citizen Award for this continued effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Amyris is also expected to develop faster, cheaper methods of manufacturing pharmaceuticals that otherwise require elaborate processes for extraction.

This year’s renewed grant will ensure the application of this technology and the actual reduced cost of malaria medicine.

According to John Melo, the CEO of Amyris, the firm’s goal is the complete eradication of malaria through low-cost and sustainable cures. He further stressed the importance of future cooperation between private and public sectors in battling other epidemics.

Haena Chu

Photo: Flickr

Silicon Valley Community Foundation
With the countless global challenges the world faces today, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) stands as a crucial partner in advocating for its community’s poor and providing them with professional guidance as well as helping global causes.

SVCF’s mission is to channel the excess wealth flooding Silicon Valley into worthy, charitable causes around the world. One of the systems SVCF uses as a means of helping nonprofits all around the world is Donor Circles.

Each circle has its own focus or philanthropic cause. Currently, the Donor Circles include Donor Circle for the Environment, Donor Circle of the Arts, Donor Circle for Africa and Donor Circle for Safety Net.

Each Donor Circle consists of individuals interested specifically in the circle’s cause who wish to fund nonprofits in the given field that are in need of support.

For example, the Donor Circle for Africa “works with nonprofit groups and entrepreneurs in Africa whose projects demonstrate sustainable and affordable solutions for essential needs.” Since 2012, this Donor Circle has given out over $50,000-worth of grants.

For example, the Donor Circle for Africa “works with nonprofit groups and entrepreneurs in Africa whose projects demonstrate sustainable and affordable solutions for essential needs.” Since 2012, this Donor Circle has given out over $50,000-worth of grants.

Aside from these Donor Circles, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation also gives grants and scholarships to individuals.

On an individual level, two of the issues SVCF specializes in are immigration and education.

In a brief describing the work they do for immigrants in Silicon Valley, SVCF acknowledges a pervasive obstacle in immigrants’ successful assimilation: lack of access to educational resources and aid. The organization attributes immigrants’ difficulties in finding work to an “insufficient number of effective English-language learning, job training and legal services.”

In a San Francisco Chronicle article about SVCF, two recipients of Silicon Valley Community Foundation grants recount some of the challenges they faced as new immigrants. Ramon Alvarez, a 28-year-old Mexican-born immigrant, says that he used to fear interactions with native English speakers, but with the help of SVCF, now he will “talk to anyone.”

In a community with booming affluence, an organization like the Silicon Valley Community Foundation stands as a crucial mobilizer for the many causes that truly deserve the world’s attention.

Liz Pudel

Sources: SVCF 1, SVCF 2, SVCF 3, SVCF 4, San Francisco Chronicles

Global Innovation FundA new investment firm called the Global Innovation Fund recently announced its first round of grants and equity investments, reports Devex, a media platform for the global development community.

In the evaluation of potential investments, says Devex, the London-based Fund focuses primarily on the projected impact on the world’s poorest. It professes a strong adherence to evidence-based programming, valuing concrete plans and results over the implausible.

The inception of the Fund, launched in December 2014, marks an increasingly popular trend of private sector firms experimenting with new business models geared toward development and poverty alleviation in underprivileged places around the world.

USAID describes the Fund’s business strategy as “a venture capital-like approach to investing in a wide range of social innovations, drawing on the success of the industry to discover and support innovative ventures that have the potential to scale across the developing world.”

This strategy bears similarities to a number of new experimental business models, such as social entrepreneurship and impact investment, which are reshaping the way the private sector and development communities think about the developing world.

According to USAID, the Fund is currently seeking innovative ideas that will both spur development and turn a profit “from a wide range of potential partners, including social enterprises for-profit firms, researchers, government agencies, non-profit organizations and others.”

Collaboration, in other words, is the new name of the game.

The Fund’s website lists numerous examples of the work they have done and the kinds of ideas they are interested in.

PoaPower, for instance, is a social enterprise designed to supply low-income consumers in off-grid Kenya with clean and affordable electricity using a pay-as-you-go system. PoaPower’s £150,000 loan from the Global Innovation Fund will support the development of this unique model, with which it aims to serve 100 to 200 households in the Mount Kenya area.

The Fund seems to show a preference for ideas that have not only positive effects for economics or finance, but also health and safety. Large-scale health problems and poverty often correlate.

On its website, the Fund announced it provided a £160,000 grant to SafeBoda, a Ugandan company that aims to curb an epidemic of road accidents by instituting an Uber-like system of safe motorbike taxis and encouraging the use of helmets.

If successful, such a venture would not only save lives, but save money for the country. According to the Global Innovation Fund’s website, over “60 percent of the surgical budget at the main Kampala hospital is spent on treating motorbike crash injuries.”

Among the Fund’s investments in medical and food security programs is Valid Nutrition, which aims to distribute a paste based on locally grown ingredients that could reduce widespread acute malnutrition. The Newborn Foundation is another organization which aims to supply poor areas with low-cost pulse oximeters that can improve the detection of neonatal infection and reduce infant mortality by an estimated 25 to 30 percent.

All of these ideas are said to be cost-effective and scalable. Most importantly, the Global Innovation Fund affirms they will “improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people around the world.”

Joe D’Amore

Sources: Devex, Global Innovation Fund, USAID
Photo: Flickr

Hewlett FoundationThe Hewlett Foundation was established by Hewlett-Packard co-founder William Hewlett and his wife Flora in 1966. Since its creation, the foundation has become one of the largest in the nation, with assets totaling $9 billion.

The Hewlett Foundation headquarters are located in Menlo Park, California, in a building that reflects the foundation’s pledge toward social and environmental change. It was certified Gold-level under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, becoming the fifth building in the country to ever do so.

The foundation focuses on local issues such as education reform for the state of California as well as global poverty reduction. It also focuses on limiting the consequences of climate change, improving reproductive health in the developing world and advancing the field of philanthropy.

The Hewlett Foundation partners with grantee institutions, such as nonprofit organizations and government entities to reach their five programs’ goals.

The Education Program offers grants in order to increase economic and civic engagement through “deeper learning” education.

“We focus on a couple of really important leadership skills like ‘collaborate productively,’ critical thinking, ‘communicate powerfully’ and ‘complete projects effectively.’ Along with making sure students are keeping up with the content, they are getting these life skills that they’ll need to be successful in college and the workplace,” said Rahil Maharaj, a student of Impact Academy of Arts and Technology in Hayward, California that focuses on deeper learning skills.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Hewlett Foundation donated $113 million to the University of California, Berkeley in 2007 — the largest private donation a university had ever seen at that time.

The funds were used to create 100 new endowed professorships at the college and provide financial help to graduate students.

Three-year general operating grants are presented to organizations that work in research and analysis, communications, community organizing, advocacy or technical assistance to improve conditions for state policymaking in education.

The Environment Program works to conserve the ecological integrity of the North American West and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to minimize the impact of global climate change.

The Hewlett Foundation donated over $9 million to the Instituto de Energia e Meio Ambiente of Brazil in grants from 2007 to 2012 to fund projects promoting clean air and sustainable transportation policies in Brazil.

The Global Development and Population Program was created to help people around the globe develop their capabilities as successful members of society.

Grants offered by this program are used to promote responsible governance across the globe, to create sound policy in developing countries, to improve the quality of education and children’s learning overseas, to ensure international and domestic access to family planning and reproductive healthcare and to reduce teen pregnancy.

$3 million was donated by the Hewlett Foundation for building the capacity of African policymakers for reproductive health issues between 2010 and 2013.

The Performing Arts Program is unique to the San Francisco Bay Area, with grants that ensure a wide range of artistic disciplines are offered to people in order to ensure continuity and engagement in the arts.

These grants also provide California students with equal access to an arts education and help the state provide proper infrastructure for effective work. The Hewlett Foundation has donated over $255 million in grants over the last 15 years to reach these goals.

The Effective Philanthropy Group provides grants in order to increase and improve the information available to donors about nonprofit performance and to develop strategic philanthropy.

The Hewlett Foundation is a good example of an organization that is making a difference both on a local level and a global level.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Hewlett Foundation 1, Hewlett Foundation 2, Hewlett Foundation 3, Hewlett Foundation 4, Hewlett Foundation 5, Hewlett Foundation 6, Hewlett Foundation 7, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Photo: Flickr

David BowieDavid Bowie was unique among famous figures. Not only was he a superstar in the music world, he was also a superstar in the world of helping the hungry, sick and poor. His death in January 2016 came as a blow to both worlds.

David Bowie’s charity work involved supporting causes related to disadvantaged children and youth, human rights, poverty and hunger, women’s issues, disaster relief and AIDS relief/reduction.

According to Look to the Stars, David Bowie took part in many charity activities, including 21st Century Leaders/Whatever It Takes, Every Mother Counts, Keep a Child Alive, Save the Children, the Lunchbox Fund and War Child.

According to their website, 21st Century Leaders is a nonprofit foundation with the mission of influencing well-known people “to raise awareness and funds for international development causes, thereby leading the way in promoting positive environmental and sustainable human development solutions.” David Bowie was one of their leaders.

Whatever It Takes is a project through which artists donate artwork or sign products to raise money to fund global development causes, including environmental protection, the alleviation of poverty and the provision of child services. Bowie designed a plate for Whatever It Takes.

Every Mother Counts is devoted to making pregnancy and birth safe for every woman. Bowie donated a song to their cause, which raises money to help maternal and childcare programs all over the world.

Bowie also performed songs for Keep a Child Alive, a nonprofit organization with the mission “to realize the end of AIDS for children and families, by combating the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV,” according to its website. The organization works in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and India, helping 70,000 people a year.

Bowie also contributed to Save the Children and the Lunchbox Fund. In 2014, Save the Children worked in 120 countries and helped 166 million children. The Lunchbox Fund is a nonprofit organization focusing on “education via nutrition by providing a daily meal for orphaned and at-risk school children in township and rural areas of South Africa,” according to its website. The lunchboxes simply provide a meal to a child who goes to school, offering an incentive to stay in school.

David Bowie donated songs to albums for War Child. War Child is an organization that “works toward a world in which no child’s life is torn apart by war,” as stated on its website. The group has helped almost 100,000 children and adults directly and 500,000 indirectly.

Through these charities alone, David Bowie’s charity legacy lives on and continues to have an effect.

Rhonda Marrone

Sources: Look to the Stars, 21 Century Leaders, Whatever it Takes, Every Mother Counts, Keep Child Alive, Save the Children, The Lunchbox Fund, War Child
Photo: The Imaginative Conservative

Leonardo DiCaprioLeonardo DiCaprio’s charity work spans a wide range of worthy causes. He has used his celebrity status to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, conservation efforts, disaster relief and poverty alleviation. According to the celebrity news source Look to the Stars, DiCaprio has made charitable contributions to 20 different foundations in support of 17 causes.

In 1998, when he was 24 years old, DiCaprio recognized the importance of protecting the environment and the need for building a sustainable future. He established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) to contribute to this cause.

Since 2010, the LDF has donated over $30 million to fund high-impact environmental projects in more than 44 countries, according to the organization’s website. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems,” DiCaprio said in an interview with the Telegraph in January 2016. “I believe mankind has looked at climate change in the same way, as if it were a fiction. But I think we know better than that.”

DiCaprio’s unwavering commitment to the environment earned him the role of United Nations Messenger of Peace in September 2014. “[DiCaprio’s] global stardom is the perfect match for this global challenge,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a press conference at that time.

Charity Navigator, an organization known for guiding intelligent giving, noted DiCaprio’s involvement in the National Resources Defense Council, WildAid and the World Wildlife Fund on their list of celebrities who put their star power to good use. The LDF raised over $25 million at its inaugural gala in July 2014 thanks to auctioned items from Bono and Simon de Pury, according to Vogue Magazine.

DiCaprio’s charity work extends beyond the realm of fundraising galas or speaking to world leaders. While most celebrities use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for self-promotion, DiCaprio’s accounts are devoted to causes he cares about.

“Leonardo’s website and social media platforms are also dedicated to inspiring the public to take action on key environmental issues,” the LDF website says, regarding DiCaprio’s social media channels. “Growing in reach from just 500,000 followers in 2007 to over 25 million in 2015, Leonardo’s fans have engaged on an array of issues protecting key species — sharks in California, tigers in Asia, elephants in Africa — and calling on world leaders to address climate change.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s ability to leverage social media for good has not gone unnoticed. Complex Magazine cited DiCaprio as one of 11 celebrities that used social media for good in 2015.

Summer Jackson

Sources: Complex, Look to the Stars, Telegraph, UN, Vogue, Charity Navigator
Photo: Google Images

Silicon Valley Community FoundationIn December 2015, Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) awarded $50 million in matching grants to support 24,450 nonprofit organizations in the United States and 45 other countries, according to CSRwire.

This is the largest total to date, beating out last year’s total of $23 million in matching grants. SVCF gives matching grants through its partnership with YourCause, which is the leading Software as a Service provider of employee engagement resolutions.

YourCause provides companies with a variety of employee engagement techniques including volunteering and charitable giving.

Maeve Miccio, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for SVCF, said, “SVCF is proud to say that we sent more than $50 million in matching grants to nonprofit organizations around the world in 2015. We applaud our corporate clients and their employees who have made philanthropy a priority through employee engagement programs in their workplaces. Their gifts support everything from education to the arts to hunger relief programs, and their generosity is inspiring.”

Matching grants come from corporate funds, matching the amount of money donated to a charity by an employee of that company.

According to CSRwire, nearly one-fifth of the total matching grants SVCF awarded by December 2015 came from PepsiCo employees and matching grants from the PepsiCo Foundation.

“PepsiCo believes in investing in our people and in the communities where we operate,” according to Andrea Seek, Director of Global Citizenship for PepsiCo. “It is gratifying that our partnership with SVCF and YourCause has allowed us to help improve and strengthen our communities around the globe.”

Around 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies have programs to match employees’ donations with corporate donations, according to CSRwire.

Approximately $2.1 billion was donated by the U.S. in 2014 by companies around the world through matching corporate gift programs.

SVCF is the largest community foundation in the world and continues to work toward innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems.

Jordan Connell

Sources: CSRwire, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Photo: Silicon Valley Community Foundation