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Recognized as one of the top-selling artists in history, Sir Elton John has continued to have an enormous impact on the music industry and pop culture. However, his influence goes beyond music. Over the years, John has used his platform to raise awareness for several charitable organizations. Here is a glimpse of Elton John’s impact through his efforts with five organizations.

Elton John’s Involvement

  1. Elton John AIDS Foundation – Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in the U.S. in 1992 and a separate entity in the U.K. in 1993. This organization aims to fund programs that alleviate the financial, emotional and physical pain caused by HIV/AIDS. EJAF fights to raise awareness, educate, treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. In 2018, it enabled 235,000 adolescents to receive HIV testing and connected more than 68,000 patients to treatment programs. Since 2010, the organization has reached and over 11.5 million people and has raised $125 million to support similar programs around the globe.
  2. Riders for Health – In 2008, Elton John donated 120 motorcycles to healthcare workers in Lesotho. The bikes enable doctors and nurses to reach patients in remote areas of Lesotho, where many suffer from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Lesotho has the second highest number of individuals infected by HIV, and the second highest number of cases in tuberculosis.  Additionally, almost 73 percent of patients infected with tuberculosis are simultaneously infected with HIV. John made the donation in partnership with the Lesotho Ministry of Health and Riders for Health. Founded in 1996, Riders for Health is an international nonprofit dedicated to increasing accessibility and efficiency of healthcare in Africa. The organization manages motorcycles, ambulances and other vehicles that provide healthcare to seven countries in Africa.
  3. Breast Cancer Research Foundation – Through his performances and donations, Elton John has supported the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) for over 15 years. BCRF provides essential funding to cancer research worldwide and is the highest-rated breast cancer organization in the U.S. At the NYC Hot Pink Party in 2016, BCRF honored John with a research grant in his name due to his dedication to the organization. He capped off the night with a performance. This event alone raised over $6.8 million for breast cancer research.
  4. Starkey Hearing Foundation – In 2012, Elton John and spouse David Furnish joined the Starkey Hearing Foundation on a trip to Manila to help fit more than 400 children and adults with hearing aids. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is committed to raising awareness, education and protection of hearing care. The organization provides more than 100,000 hearing aids annually and has reached over 100 countries. Additionally, John has previously preformed at the So the World May Hear Awards Gala to raise funds and awareness for hearing accessibility.
  5. The Elton John Sports Fund – Elton John’s impact is also present through the Elton John Sports Fund. Rocket Sports started the Elton John Sports Fund in 2014 in partnership with SportsAid. This partnership supports young athletes by providing money to travel, to get necessary equipment and to decrease the overall financial strains of a given sport. The recipients of the Elton John Sports Fund are promising athletes who come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and sports interests.

Throughout his career, Elton John has championed numerous causes, earning him awards such as the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2017 and the BAMBI Award in 2004. John has performed at countless benefit concerts, raising awareness for organizations that range from rainforest conservation to supporting first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elton John has made a lasting impact on the world, using his star-studded platform for good.

Megan McKeough

Photo: Flickr

Borgen Project Initiatives
In the fight against extreme poverty, people often think about ways to donate and how to make their concerns known to politicians. As a global issue, poverty is gaining support from all over the world in various fashions, revealing how celebrities are a huge asset to the discussion of global poverty.  Below are a few celebrities who are working in unique ways to support the fight against poverty and The Borgen Project initiatives they would most likely support.

Oprah: Keeping Girls in the Classroom

People know Oprah Winfrey for the charitable donations she has given to a variety of causes for decades. Winfrey donated $1 million to the N Street Village project. This project provides resources to women who are either homeless or have low-income to help stabilize them and promote their quality of living, such as assisting with employment, health care and various other recovery initiatives. Winfrey has also donated to causes that target young girls, such as providing about $140 million to pay for girls attending the Oprah Winfrey Leader Academy since its founding in 2007. Given the initiatives Winfrey has supported in the past, one can assume that Winfrey would support The Borgen Project’s initiative The Keeping Girls in School Act, as it works to expand the educational opportunities for young girls.

Elton John: Fighting the Spread of Disease

People know Elton John mostly for his musical abilities; however, for nearly half of his musical career, John has advocated for awareness of HIV/AIDS and continues to indirectly support legislation changes for poverty. In 1992, Elton John was motivated by the loss of friends like Freddie Mercury to HIV/AIDS and he created the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The Foundation has raised over $125 million, fought discrimination of those diagnosed and has worked in over 50 countries. If one considers John’s dedication to preventing and treating severe diseases, one can assume that he would support The Borgen Project’s initiative the End Neglected Tropical Disease Act, as it serves to support U.S. foreign policy that advocates for conditions that people often overlook but occur at rates worth congressional attention.

IU: Reaching Out to Children

IU is a South Korean singer known for her charitable donations to numerous causes over the years, both social and environmental. Following the breakout of a wildfire in South Korea, the star donated nearly $100,000 to ChildFund Korea. ChildFund Korea provides relief in Korea and across the world in areas including education, child protection and health. When IU made her donation, she did not specify it to an isolated situation, but rather to the whole organization and allowed it to decide how to use it. A Borgen Project initiative that reflects IU’s passions might be the Reaching Every Mother and Child Act as this policy addresses the health risk related to the health care of expectant mothers and their infant children.

Trevor Noah: Closing the Education Gap

Trevor Noah is a comedian and TV host. Noah founded the Trevor Noah Foundation in early 2018 in his home country, South Africa. Noah’s Foundation focuses on education and emphasizes closing the gap between those who have access to education and those who do not. It especially highlights how, as different communities face economic disparities, the progression of education sometimes outpaces those who have varying amounts of financial flexibility. Noah financed the Foundation in its first year, but just before 2019 began, he announced that he would match the donations of others. Noah’s form of philanthropy is unique because his goals come from his personal experiences. For this reason, Noah is likely to support The Borgen Project initiatives that strive to close the digital gap between those who have access to the internet and those who do not, especially in developing countries.

Each of these celebrities has a different reason for supporting various initiatives to fight global poverty and, depending on how they have chosen to fight against poverty, they reflect an initiative, act or bill that The Borgen Project is pushing U.S. foreign policy to support. Whether timing, location or experience influences these celebrities, they each made a personal decision to make a difference that can inspire everyone.

Kimberly Debnam
Photo: Flickr

organizations fighting HIV and AIDSAs of 2016, more than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS. Though the incidence rate of HIV and AIDS has been decreasing since the late 1990s, UNAIDS’s goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation is still far off. These five organizations fighting HIV and AIDS are contributing to the success of HIV and AIDS prevention as well as helping to provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) and counseling for those affected.

 

Elton John AIDS Foundation

In the midst of the rapidly growing AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, singer-songwriter Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) to provide much-needed financial support in the fight against HIV and AIDS. John believes he is lucky to have avoided the AIDS epidemic as a gay man who partook in extremely risky behavior in the 1980s, including drug abuse. “I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury,” he said at the International AIDS Conference in 2012. “Every day I wonder, how did I survive?”

The EJAF aims to dismantle the stigma surrounding those with HIV and AIDS as well as provide financial support for HIV prevention and treatment around the world. The EJAF has two branches—one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.—and has been rated a four-star charity, the highest rating a nonprofit can achieve.

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Named the richest man in America for 24 years in a row, Bill Gates has been extremely philanthropic with his wealth. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $41 billion since it was created. A large portion of those donations—approximately $4.6 billion—have gone toward global health initiatives, including HIV prevention and treatment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funneled money into improving the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, as well as toward the continued research involved in creating a vaccine to prevent HIV. It is one of the most well-known organizations fighting HIV and AIDS.

 

The Global Fund

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a recipient of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Those funds have been put toward providing ART to more than 11 million people and preventing the transmission of HIV through the womb from mother to child. Over four million HIV-positive women have received treatment to protect their babies during and after pregnancy.

The Global Fund also fights the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS and provides diverse prevention efforts in order to include children and women. These efforts continue to encourage people to seek preventative measures and treatment rather than avoiding it due to stigma.

 

Treatment Action Campaign

Africa has the highest burden of HIV and AIDS worldwide. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), founded in 1998, focuses on South Africa and the prevention and treatment methods being employed there. UNAIDS director Dr. Peter Piot considers TAC to be “the smartest activist group of all, worldwide.”

TAC monitors hospitals, trains campaign members on the basic science of HIV and AIDS, and advocates for the right to access healthcare.

 

amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research

Created during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1985, amfAR has been a leader in AIDS research. Because of the homophobia surrounding HIV and AIDS in the ’80s, many organizations were unwilling to speak out in support of AIDS research. amfAR was established in order to raise private funds for AIDS research, educate the public and support those suffering from HIV and AIDS.

amfAR ultimately kickstarted research that led to the creation of ART. amfAR has also supported HIV prevention methods such as safe needle exchange and safe sex provisions.

Though the HIV and AIDS epidemic is far from over, these organizations fighting HIV and AIDS, as well as many others, are contributing to the health of current and future generations.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr

hollywood
Money is not the only way to contribute to charities, although it is arguably the most effective – unless you are a celebrity. Apparently just being associated with a charity is enough to boost donations by $100,000 per year. Research from the Rutgers’s Business School found charities with celebrity endorsements received a 1.4 percent increase in donations over charities that were not associated with stars.

In that respect, the popular celebrity news website, The Daily Beast, found out who the most charitable celebrities were in regards to lending out their name and fame. Using an in depth survey with forty-eight characteristics via E-poll market research, a list was created with the top celebrities in the charitable running. The list was narrowed after secondary research on www.looktothestars.org, a site that tracks how many charities celebrities are actually supporting. Using Traackr to record the number of actual hits on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and personal blogs, the list was further weighted to reflect the celebrities’ personal effort put into promoting their respective organizations.

Elton John was at the top of the list with support towards a whopping forty-eight charities. Furthermore, his foundation to help treat AIDS victims, Elton John Aids Foundation, is one of his personally founded charities. Though it may be due to the passing of many of Elton’s close friends of because of AIDS/HIV, he hosts enormous galas open to his multitude of famous friends as fundraisers for his organization.

Second on the list is Angelina Jolie, recognized worldwide for her long list of humanitarian efforts. She has visited various nations such as Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and Costa Rica, even during times of conflict and war. Taking a hands on approach, she has provided care and aid to refugees in the aftermath of natural disasters, apartheid, oppression and more. She is the founder of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt, named after her first adopted Cambodian son, an organization which serves to implement sustainable community improvement policies for women and children in Cambodia. Angelina and Brad Pitt sold the first images of their newborn twins to People and Hello! Magazines for $14 million, utilizing the entire sum of money for the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

Following Angelina on the top 25 list is Bono, the incredible U2 front man, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres. Some of the most famous stars on television and film are giving huge chunks of their success away to help others, thus becoming role models in the world of charity and fundraising. It is simultaneously inspiring and humbling to recognize that people have the ability to help those in need no matter how famous, wealthy or well off we are in their own lives. Celebrities have a name and a face but their actions are worth so much more than that, and anyone can take action against global poverty.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, Look to the Stars
Photo: Giphy.com