While people may best know Rihanna for her music, she has also used her fame and influence to become a powerful force for global change. In 2012, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation. This philanthropic organization works to strengthen vulnerable communities in Africa and the Caribbean. Here are a few ways the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) has fought against global poverty.
Every year, natural disasters around affect over 200 million people worldwide and push 26 million into poverty. In the wake of a natural disaster, donors and organizations often rush to provide support and resources to impacted areas. However, after donors eventually lose interest, these regions are left helpless; furthermore, numerous organizations trying to help can become ineffective if they do not communicate with each other.
The Clara Lionel Foundation’s climate resilience and emergency preparedness plan proactively helps vulnerable communities prepare for environmental disasters. Rather than focusing on reactionary rebuilding, they can get ahead of future problems. In 2018, the organization worked to strengthen existing infrastructure in the Caribbean to withstand future disasters and eliminate the need for extensive rebuilding.
The Foundation recognized that women’s health centers often go unincluded in typical emergency response assistance initiatives. Therefore, it partnered with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Engineers Without Borders to improve access to reproductive health clinics in vulnerable Caribbean areas.
Additionally, the CLF issued a $25 million grant for emergency equipment at the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season. This money helped ensure that relief organizations could distribute these supplies whenever necessary. The aim of this proactive emergency response model is to turn the Caribbean into the world’s first climate-resilient zone, a strategy that could eventually scale up and adapt to protect other vulnerable communities around the world.
The Clara Lionel Foundation has worked since 2016 to provide access to education for vulnerable children in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on Malawi, Barbados and Senegal. CLF partners with the Campaign for Female Education in Malawi to support girls’ secondary education. They provide financial assistance and transportation. CLF also provided paid internships for secondary school graduates to become trained HIV testers. This initiative created employment opportunities and helped to address a prominent health crisis. In Senegal, CLF invests in repairing and constructing classrooms for children who lack a safe place of education.
In 2016, Rihanna and the CLF joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to advocate the importance of accessible education. As the GPE Global Ambassador, Rihanna visited impoverished schools in Malawi and encouraged world leaders to increase support for global education initiatives.
As communities worldwide face the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clara Lionel Foundation has stepped in to help. The foundation donated $6.2 million in partnership with Jack Dorsey and the Shawn Carter Foundation to help marginalized communities in the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean fight COVID-19. This funding fueled frontline organizations such as Direct Relief, Partners in Health, the International Rescue Committee and the WHO’s COVID-19 Response Fund. CLF’s donation allowed for increased testing capacity, more personal protective equipment and the development of medical facilities equipped to handle the virus.
Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna uses her fame to be an advocate, ally and role model in the fight against global poverty. Her actions have transformed the lives of many vulnerable people throughout the world. Rihanna and CLF will continue to have a wide impact as others hopefully adopt her philanthropic spirit.
– Allie Beutel