Celebrities wield influence well beyond their chosen career paths.
They realize they can have a positive, lasting impact on the world.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at the causes a few of these influential people love:
Bill and Melinda Gates
According to the “Forbes 2017 Billionaires List,” Bill Gates, with a net worth of $85 billion, is the richest person in the world. However, his contribution to the world goes beyond the Microsoft empire that has brought him incredible wealth.
Gates and his wife, Melinda, created The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization champions equity for everyone in the world.
The organization’s site describes its mission:
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.
Along with the billions their organization has donated, Bill and Melinda Gates co-founded the Giving Pledge with fellow billionaire Warren Buffett; it asks the world’s wealthiest people to donate substantial portions of their wealth to charity.
In August 2017, Forbes wrote:
The Gates Foundation, which Gates formed with his wife, Melinda, is the world’s largest private charity; it has distributed more than $40 billion in grants to date and supports organizations in over 100 countries. The foundation is currently working to eradicate polio globally in the next three years.
Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett, are cofounders of the Giving Pledge, an initiative that challenges billionaires to commit more than half of their wealth to charity that now boasts 170 signatories.
Michelle Obama, the former first lady, has used her fame as a platform for change.
Her philanthropic endeavors in education led her to launch Let Girls Learn, an organization created by Michelle and Barack Obama that has helped raise awareness and funding for girls around the world to receive proper education.
The organization’s website shares its mission:
Recognizing that adolescent girls face multiple challenges in pursuing an education, Let Girls Learn is employing a holistic approach to change the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community and institutional levels; foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education; and engage and equip girls to make life decisions and important contributions to society. Building on U.S. government expertise, Let Girls Learn elevates existing programs and invests in new efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls—including in areas of conflict and crisis. The initiative leverages public-private partnerships and challenges others to commit resources to improve the lives of adolescent girls worldwide. It also expands collaborations with experts and places particular emphasis on community-led solutions to help adolescent girls complete their education.
During her time in the White House, Michelle Obama also teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to launch Let’s Move, which is aimed at lowering childhood obesity rates.
Ellen DeGeneres’ fame as the host of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has made her one of the most popular stars on television. The dancing talk-show host is known for her upbeat personality, but her show is also praised for donating to charities and those in need.
Aside from her show’s contributions, Ellen has numerous personal ventures in charitable ventures.
Among many causes that she supports, as a strong advocate for animal rights, Ellen and her wife, Portia de Rossi, have pledged support for the Best Friends Animal Society. The organization’s mission is “To bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets.”
Her selfie tweet from the 2014 Academy Awards was the most retweeted image ever at the time and helped earn a $3 million donation to charity:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
Because it was a Samsung phone, the tech giant vowed to donate one dollar per retweet, according to TechCrunch. The tweet garnered almost 3 million retweets at the time and Samsung donated $1.5 million dollars to two charities of DeGeneres’ choosing: St. Jude’s and the Humane Society of the United States.
DeGeneres is also a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. In 2016, she received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In his speech, President Barack Obama lauded her contributions to the LGBTQ community.
Fortune reported a portion of Obama’s speech:
“It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law, just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago. Just how important it was not just for the LGBT community, but for all us to see somebody so full of kindness and light—somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor or our colleague or our sister—challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice. What an incredible burden it was to bear, to risk your career like that. People don’t do that very often.”
Here is the full video of Obama’s speech and DeGeneres’ emotional acceptance of the award:
Chance the Rapper
Grammy-winner Chance the Rapper not only is passionate about the music he makes, but he also loves Chicago and wants to help the city’s youth succeed. The Chicago native co-founded SocialWorks, a charity aimed at empowering youth in the communities. Its approach is “To inspire creativity, to build dreams, to let you be, you.”
Among many charitable donations and partnerships, the organization recently donated $2.2 million to Chicago Public Schools, with nearly half coming from his own pocket.
A CNN piece reported on Chance’s announcement of his individual donation:
“Today, I’m proud to announce that I am donating $1 million to CPS to support arts and enrichment programming,” Chance said in the news conference at Westcott Elementary School on the South Side of Chicago.
On Sept. 1, the Chicago Tribune reported on the multi-million-dollar donation the rapper and his nonprofit organization made:
Four days before Chicago Public Schools opens classroom doors, Chance the Rapper made a theatrical appearance to announce that the $2.2 million raised by his nonprofit organization will be doled out to 20 schools for arts education programs.
“Quality education for public schools is the most important investment a community can make,” the 24-year-old Grammy-winning musician and philanthropist told a boisterous crowd in the Harold Washington Cultural Center’s auditorium Friday afternoon.
Of course, these are only a few of the charitable ventures that influential people love. There are plenty of other powerful people making a difference in the world. Whom would you add to the list and why, PR Daily readers?
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