Celebrities Who Grew Up Poor
Celebrities lead lavish, luxurious lives, and are often subjects of envy for many common people. However, some of them came from less than affluent backgrounds and never imagined that they would achieve the status and wealth they possess today. Here are three celebrities who grew up poor and how their past affects their philanthropy today.

Jennifer Lopez

Considered the most influential Latin performer in America, actress and singer, Jennifer Lopez has released a plethora of hit songs and acted in many movies. She is currently engaged to famous baseball player Alex Rodriguez and lives on a property worth $28 million. This is a far cry from her childhood, where she grew up sharing a bedroom with her two sisters in the Bronx. Her parents worked tirelessly to provide just enough for Jennifer and her sisters. She inherited a strong work ethic from them. Despite her fame, Lopez has not abandoned her roots. Her popular song “Jenny from the Block” is about how she has not forgotten her roots.

Perhaps due to her own difficult upbringing, Lopez pays specific attention to supporting children’s charities. She works as an activist for the ALAS, a program promoting early childhood development in Latin America, and has performed many concerts to raise donations and awareness for the cause. Lopez also participates in the Noche de Los Niños Gala hosted by the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, raising funds for their patients.

Ralph Lauren

Fashion icon Ralph Lauren had dreamed of being rich since his high school days. However, he was anything but at the time. Lauren grew up in the Bronx, the youngest son in a Jewish immigrant family. He often fantasized about living a better life and loved watching movies to help him escape the feeling of poverty.

From a young age, his entrepreneurial instinct was prominent. Since he was a child, Lauren had an extravagant taste in clothing and sold handmade ties to children at school to pay for them. This consequently became the root of his extremely successful fashion career. Now, with a net worth of billions, Lauren is giving back. His Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation has donated millions to causes like education and cancer care. Lauren, who has not forgotten his life as a Jewish immigrant child, is a supporter of groups like the American Jewish Committee.


Jay-Z is an award-winning songwriter and rapper who seems to have it all—success, a famous partner and several successful business ventures. However, the artist came a long way from the conditions he grew up in. Jay-Z was the fourth child in his family. Born into an impoverished neighborhood where drugs and violence were rampant, Jay-Z turned to rap as a way to cope with the issues surrounding him.

Now, he is passionate about helping others escape those same problems. Jay-Z has spoken out repeatedly against racial injustice, drug use and other problems he grew up dealing with. Additionally, his charity, the Shawn Carter Foundation, has donated millions to programs and scholarships for children growing up in difficulty. Jay-Z’s past is deeply intertwined in his career and philanthropic efforts. Therefore, he is one of the most notable celebrities who grew up poor.

Despite their fame and success, these celebrities have not forgotten the poverty they grew up in. These three hard-working philanthropists are now helping to fight the same problems they dealt with growing up. With the determination and influence of celebrities, the movement against poverty should greatly advance.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

Mandela 100 Festival
Singer Beyonce and her spouse, rapper Jay-Z, will be among several major artists to perform at Global Citizen’s Mandela 100 Festival in December 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Other artists scheduled to perform are Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin, Pharrell Williams, D’banj, Femi Kuti, Sho Madjozi, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid. This latest concert campaign is said to be Global Citizen’s ”biggest campaign on the Global Goals to end extreme poverty ever.”

According to Global Citizen, the festival is to represent a celebration of Mandela’s legacy as an exemplary leader, his fight against apartheid, and his methods of non-violent protest that shaped the future of South Africa, setting an example worldwide. The Mandela 100 festival will be the first-ever musical event organized by Global Citizen in Africa

 A Global Initiative

As an organization that is composed of members worldwide, Global Citizen is a model example of a successful nongovernmental organization (NGO), a true grassroots movement. The organization has projected some major numbers for 2018: an estimated 2.25 billion people worldwide are expected to receive some form of poverty relief from Global Citizen, ranging from a year of free education for children to clean water for an entire community.

Global Citizen divides its goals into nine separate categories, each representing a broad set of issues that need to be resolved. They are:

  • Girls and Women
  • Health
  • Finance/Innovation
  • Education
  • Food and Hunger
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Environment
  • Citizenship

Global Citizen’s goal is to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2030—just 12 years from now. And it seems that the organization may accomplish its goals, having secured a whopping $2.9 billion in funding from government organizations worldwide for 2018 alone.

How Everyone Can Help

But besides relying on funding from government bodies, Global Citizen asks that individuals take action as well, through twitter, email or petition. Global Citizen’s website offers a streamlined way for its constituents to influence representatives not only in their own country but in countries worldwide.

Some of the most recent and significant contributions to Global Citizen have come from the U.K., Norway and the E.U. These nations gave £225 million, Kr.2.07 billion and  €337.5 million to Global Citizen’s Global Partnership for Education project, respectively.

Mandela 100 Festival: A Festival For The People

The Mandela 100 Festival begins on December 2, 2018, and besides the proceeds going toward Global Citizen’s international fight against poverty, the other goal of the festival experience is to ignite a passion in young people to feel empowered to make changes in the world. Global Citizen wants to involve youth, on an international level, in the fight against extreme poverty.

Global Citizen’s website states it wishes to “galvanize young, passionate people across Africa to pressure their leaders to make important strides.” In fact, the motto for the festival is “Be The Generation.” Considering that Global Citizen is expecting to end abject poverty worldwide in little over a decade, millennials may just become the generation to tip the scales in the ongoing fight to elevate all members of our global community.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Google

global citizen festival
Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 per day, consumes 1.2 billion people of the world’s population. Fortunately, awareness of this problem is beginning to penetrate the mainstream and even many celebrities are starting to take action. Jay-Z, Carrie Underwood, Tiesto, and other well-known artists are set to headline the Global Citizen Festival on September 27th at Central Park in New York City. This festival is aimed to highlight the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

In regards to the festival, Jay-Z stated, “Change only takes place when and where there is action. I’m joining the 2014 Global Citizen Festival because I believe through actions, whether it be by raising awareness, getting involved or educating ourselves, the goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is possible.”

The Global Poverty Project has taken the initiative to create this festival not only to raise awareness about the issue, but also to increase the number of people participating in poverty-reduction efforts. In order to maximize attendance and participation in such efforts, 45,000 tickets will be distributed free of charge for participating in Global Citizen’s online platform.

Many may argue that a concert, even with such famous artists, will not do much to alleviate extreme poverty around the globe, but the statistics show otherwise. In the past two years of Global Citizen Festivals, with performances by John Mayer, Alicia Keys, The Foo Fighters, and Kings of Leon, actions taken by concert attendees generated $1.3 billion to put toward poverty reduction programs, as well as commitments from 35 world leaders to aid the poor. Although much more funding and aid is needed to eliminate extreme poverty, $1.3 billion has saved lives.

In terms of participation, exposure, and timing, the Global Citizen Festival has been very strategically organized. This festival is set up to reach the widest audience possible by having iconic artists from three completely different genres of music come together to perform at the same concert, attracting people from many different backgrounds. The festival has also established partnerships with mainstream media outlets, such as NBC and MSNBC in order to reach people on a national level as well.

September 27th is a very important date for the festival to be held because it coincides with the United Nations General Assembly, where leaders from all over the world will gather to discuss public policy and international affairs. The fact that this festival is on the same day will give added inspiration to these leaders to commit to providing even more funding from their nations for international aid development to reduce extreme global poverty.

Besides eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, the main goals of this years’ Global Citizen Festival include bringing vaccines to the world’s poor, expanding education to the 60 million adolescents who are not provided the opportunity to learn and increasing conditions of sanitation to prevent disease and other problems.

In the fight against global poverty, it is extremely helpful and important that celebrities like Jay-Z and Carrie Underwood use their spotlight of fame toward a worthy cause in order to raise awareness. The combination of high-profile figures, established media partnerships, and strategic methods of participation in poverty-reduction, has set this years’ Global Citizens Festival at an unprecedented reach.

– Lucas Vazquez
Sources: Inquisitr, Rolling Stone

beyonce giving
Beyoncé Knowles is a fashion icon, musical genius and world-class performer.  Going beyond the world of pop-culture, Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z work closely with many philanthropy organizations.

Beyoncé partnered with Kelly Rowland to found the Survivor Foundation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The organization provided transitional housing for those affected in the Houston area.  Within five years the organization has provided more than $2.5 million dollars to housing projects like Habitat for Humanity, Temenos Place, and the Knowles-Rowland Community Outreach Center.  The foundation has expanded to work out of other U.S. cities affected by natural disasters.

Beyoncé has also contributed her talents to many benefit concerts such as Hope for Haiti Now, World Humanitarian Day by the UN, World Children’s Day, and Chime for Change, a group advocating women’s rights.  In 2010, Beyoncé partnered with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity. A strong partner with Stand Up to Cancer, Beyoncé recorded a single for the cause with Leann Rimes and Mary J Blige.

Beyoncé uses her role as a music and style icon to act as the face for CFDA’s Fashion for Haiti campaign and the co-founder of the Cosmetology Center at Brooklyn’s Phoenix House, a drug rehabilitation center.  In 2008, the music icon took philanthropy to another level when she donated all of the proceeds from her Cadillac Records deal to the Phoenix House. The star also supports the food donation charity, Miss-a-Meal, and the Goodwill foundation among others.

When Beyoncé and Jay-Z had their baby, Blue Ivy Carter, the couple chose to donate her baby gifts to charity.  Most of the gifts have gone to young mothers and their children.  “Reaching out and touching lives is incredibly empowering,” says Beyoncé, “that’s why I want my fans to experience the joy of making a difference by helping someone else.”

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: Huffington Post, Seventeen, Look to the Stars, Microgiving Blog

In the fight against global poverty, having the resources to fund projects and the public platform to advocate for change can help effectively implement programs and bring much needed awareness to the cause. For many celebrities, ending global poverty has been a cause worth fighting for. Many have used their fame and wealth to help those in need. These five celebrities have helped the global effort to end poverty and reduce the suffering of the world’s poor.

When it comes to public personalities who capture our attention with their art, Lady Gaga tops any list of performers. Lady Gaga is an active philanthropist whose support of human rights concerns and vocal support of the LGBTQIA community has allowed her to become a legitimate voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Gaga has partnered with Virgin Mobile to benefit homeless youth and has also partnered with The National Alliance to End Homelessness and Re*Generation. Gaga has also donated generously to survivors of the Haiti Earthquake and has utilized her live tours to advocate for social justice.

Angelina Jolie is not only a celebrity, but a global ambassador who actively fights for those impoverished, disenfranchised, and vulnerable to humanitarian crisis. Jolie regularly works with refugees around the world and makes frequent visits to victims of natural disasters. The Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which she started with Brad Pitt, aims to eradicate extreme rural poverty. She has been recognized by the United Nations as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, and has received numerous awards for her efforts.

Jay-Z may be known more for his rhymes and success as a music executive; however the rapper is also a philanthropist. He has worked to help raise awareness of the global water shortage. He met with Kofi Annan in 2006 to use his tour to bring public exposure to the cause. He went on site to produce a documentary on the topic of the global water shortage – Jay-Z: Water for Life. In addition to his efforts bringing awareness to issues of security and poverty, Jay-Z has also generously donated to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Leonardo Dicaprio is a well-known advocate of humanitarian and environmental issues, and frequently utilizes his celebrity to help those in need. The actor is actively involved in a variety of causes and organizations, ranging from blood diamonds to conservation. Dicaprio’s celebrity and generosity have taken up issues of poverty and those related to it. He supports several charities and nonprofits including Feeding America, SOS Children’s Villages, and the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation.

Funny-lady, popular TV show host, and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has also joined the cause of fighting global poverty. She is well known for her warmth and generosity to her fans, and this extends to those in need as well. DeGeneres has worked to benefit Feeding America and supports the Red Cross. She has received numerous awards for her efforts and has partnered with other celebrities, such as Ben Affleck, to help those in need.

– Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: Look to the Stars, The Borgen Project
Photo: Blog Spot

bruno mars sings for poverty relief
Bruno Mars isn’t just another handsome face singing catchy love songs. He — along with over 70 artists — is partnering with the Global Poverty Project to address poverty worldwide by using a fanbase to raise awareness and funds.

Global Citizen is a website managed by the Global Poverty Project that centralizes information about global poverty and opportunities to help. Its ultimate goal is to increase the number of citizens actively advocating for change. The site is comprised of actions related to education and advocacy campaigning, all of which address 13 key issues:

  • Food and Hunger
  • Primary Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Child Mortality
  • Maternal Health
  • Fighting Diseases
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Partnerships
  • Fighting Corruption
  • Effective Governance
  • Polio Eradication
  • Fair Trade

Participation in Global Citizen actions such as watching a video about extreme poverty, signing petitions, contacting representatives or volunteering time or money earn points for users, which can be redeemed for prizes.

14-time Grammy Award nominee Bruno Mars is one of over 70 artists who realize the importance of ending global poverty. As touring recording artists, they are exposed to areas of the world that suffer the effects of extreme poverty in outrageous percentages. Recognizing the power of their celebrity, they have stood up to support the movement. Mars joins a group of industry power-players like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Kesha, Kanye West, John Mayer and more who have donated at least 2 tickets from each show scheduled in their current tour, resulting in over 20,000 tickets donated to Global Citizen. Once users reach enough points, they can enter a drawing for a chance to win concert tickets. Another option is simply redeeming a higher number of points for tickets, similar to the ‘Buy It Now’ feature on eBay.

Extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 30 years, and the knowledge and resources necessary to end the crisis completely within a generation are available. It won’t happen overnight, but Global Citizen is breeding an army: an army with the power to end extreme poverty by making informed consumer decisions and advocating for change. Global Citizen and artists like Bruno Mars are helping people to see that every voice counts and every person is capable of changing lives around the world.

– Dana Johnson

Source: Global Citizen, New York Times
Photo: Smash Vault

Beyoncé Takes on Global Poverty
Beyoncé has joined the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative alongside artists such as Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, Jay-Z and more. Beyoncé’s involvement comes as a part of the Global Poverty Project. Global Citizen Tickets are designed to provide incentives to concertgoers and fans to take social action to combat poverty.

The website encourages individuals to raise awareness about poverty by signing petitions and calling their representatives to discuss these issues. Pearl Jam’s manager, Kelly Curtis, started the initiative alongside Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans. The organizers knew that star power like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and other superstars would give the cause real drive, and get people involved.

The initiative works through a points system. Individuals participating in social actions will be rewarded with points which in turn can be used to win free concert tickets from the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative “pool.” The tickets have been donated by the artists for each concert throughout their concert circuit.

The project is connected with several other organizations including ONE, Malaria No More, Living on One, and The ISIS Foundation. The Global Citizen Ticket Initiative is hoping to make impacts in the areas of polio, malaria, women’s empowerment, food security, academic success, and others.

The chairwoman of the Global Citizen’s Ticket Initiative, Michele Anthony, believes the universal appeal and non-partisan nature of poverty-related issues make the attraction to these events so strong. Issues like poverty and women’s empowerment are no brainers for music stars to back.

Beyoncé has donated tickets for over twenty-five shows between now and the beginning of August.  Individuals are invited to take social action in the hopes of winning tickets to see Ms. Knowles perform songs from her recent album “4”.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source Global Citizen, Global Citizen