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  • Celebrities Who Started Foundations To Make A Change – People

 October 26

by Carolina

Michael J. Fox

Noam Galai/Getty Images for The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Michael J. Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 1991 before going public with his diagnosis in 1998. Following a successful acting career, filled with iconic roles on Spin City, Back to the Future and Family Ties, he officially retired from acting in 2020.

Fox now continues to focus on the non-profit he co-founded in 2000 to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, The Michael J. Fox Foundation. “We created what has become this giant network of patients, scientists and institutions,” he told AARP The Magazine for their December 2021/January 2022 issue.

“Patients are the key. Now they guide our agenda and have been critical, for example, to our promising work in trying to find biomarkers for Parkinson’s, which would allow us to identify the disease in people before symptoms are evident, and to treat it pro-actively and get rid of it,” Fox continued. “And we’ve got a lot of treatments that have gone through the FDA, and we’ve developed a great relationship with pharma researchers on Parkinson’s drug development.”

Cyndi Lauper


Cyndi Lauper co-founded True Colors United (formerly the True Colors Fund) in 2008. The foundation works to implement “innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people,” according to their website.

As part of their work, the group offers “free training and resources on how to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness,” as well as “advocate in government and media to help ensure critical funding and services for all youth, and create opportunities for youth who have experienced homelessness to be key leaders in the effort to end the problem.”

This month, Lauper doubled down and launched the Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights Fund in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year. The fund will support organizations fighting for the right to abortion and reproductive healthcare, PEOPLE exclusively revealed on October 11.

Created in partnership with the Tides Foundation, Lauper’s new organization builds on the poignant slogan — which is printed on a t-shirt released for the fund’s launch — that first appeared on protest signs at the inaugural Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

Alicia Keys

Courtesy Keep A Child Alive

Alicia Keys singer co-founded Keep a Child Alive in 2003 after a trip to South Africa where she saw the impact of HIV/AIDS first hand.

Keys was 20 at the time, when she visited the country with MTV as part of their Staying Alive program. There, she would visit clinics where women were either pregnant or had just given birth to babies with HIV or AIDS.

“At the time, a lot of women didn’t realize that if you are positive and you breast feed your baby, your baby will contract it,” Keys told PEOPLE in 2019. “The moms just wanted medicine to keep them alive. That was the first time as a 20 year old that I was aware of the injustice. I thought, ‘How can something be available, but you can’t have it because you’re poor?’ I just felt like that was a death sentence. That’s what outraged me and motivated me. When I came back, I was never the same.”

The organization focuses on working with groups who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS and provides treatment, prevention and supporting resources.

The website explained that the organization also works to educate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, support maternal and child health, provide leadership skills to women and young people and combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

Dolly Parton

Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Dolly Parton launchd the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library in 1995 which helps young children around the world learn to read.

Since then, the Tennessee-based organization has donated nearly 200 million books to children across the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Ireland. Inspired by her father Robert’s inability to read and write. Parton initially launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, where she grew up.

“That always made me feel bad about my dad, so I started it based on that, just for our county,” Parton told PEOPLE ahead of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, where she was honored, in October. “Governor Phil Bredesen thought it was a great idea, so they took it statewide. It’s just grown in leaps and bounds ever since then, but it came from a place in my heart to try to help children in their young years, their most impressionable years, to learn how to read and write.”

Beyond the Imagination Library, Parton’s philanthropic efforts also include donations to Vanderbilt University for pediatric infectious disease research and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund to support families affected by the 2016 wildfires in Sevier County.

Kobe Bryant

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant in 2019.
Stefanie Keenan/Getty

Kobe Bryant founded the Mamba Sports Foundation to provide underserved communities with sports programs that enrich their “socio-emotional and physical development,” according to its website.

Following his tragic death in 2020, the five-time NBA champion’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, announced that the foundation would now be known as the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation in honor of both Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna — who was also killed in the helicopter crash on Jan. 26 alongside seven others.

The foundation also provides funding for athletes to join school or league teams, as well as sports programs that offer equal opportunities for young women.

On October 2 and 3 the foundation hosted an inaugural basketball camp called the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation Skills Academy at the Ladera Sports Center in Orange County, Calif. They partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to invite 11–13-year-old young boys and girls of all skill levels, according to their website.

“Kobe and Gigi’s vision was to create a world where young women had equal opportunity to pursue their dreams through sports,” the website explained. “The foundation honors their legacy by funding programs that support their vision.”

Lady Gaga

Cynthia Germanotta and Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga co-founded the Born this Way Foundation alongside her mother Cynthia Germanotta who now serves as the president of the organization. Born this Way supports the mental health of young people and fosters inclusivity through high-impact programming, youth-led conversations, and strategic partnerships. This year, they celebrated the organization’s 10 year anniversary since its founding in 2012.

“… the Foundation aims to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people, and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health,” according to their website.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon.
Michael Loccisano/WireImage

Water.org was founded in 2009 by Matt Damon and Gary White and works “to bring water and sanitation to the world.”

“Today more than 50 million people around the world can turn on a tap and safely use a toilet because small, affordable loans empowered them to get access to safe water and sanitation at home,” the website says about the organization’s work, which has touched millions of lives across 11 countries.

Earlier this year, the two released a book about their work, called The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge.

Damon has said he was inspired to focus on water access after a visit to Zambia in 2006 where he joined a girl on a water collection who he said “opened my eyes.”

“She was talking about her future, and what she was going to do, and I really connected because I remember being a teenager and the way Ben [Affleck] and I talked about how we were going to move to New York or L.A. to become actors and that real excitement of that age,” he told TIME earlier this year. “And it wasn’t until I left that I realized that had it not been for the foresight of someone to drill a well a mile from her home, she wouldn’t have been in school, and she wouldn’t have had dreams of moving to the big city someday and becoming a nurse.”

Rachael Ray

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

A chef’s toque is just one of the many hats Rachael Ray wears!

In 2016 she launched the Rachael Ray Foundation, a private foundation that is totally funded by the proceeds made from her Nutrish pet food brand, according to the website.

The foundation supports causes close to Ray’s heart, which include helping animals in need.

“RRF funds organizations across the country who work to improve the lives of shelter animals and other animals in need,” the website explains. “In addition, the Foundation makes funds available for emergency situations and disaster relief efforts where help for animals is urgently needed.”

The Rachael Ray Show host also has a 501c3 non-profit called Yum-O! which works with RRF and “empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking through three main initiatives: Cook, Feed, and Fund.”

In May, Ray’s philanthropic work brought her to Ukraine where she visited with children and brought “a box truck packed with first-aid kits to go directly to the front lines,” she wrote for PEOPLE.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Chris Jackson/Getty

Harry and Meghan announced the name of their charity back in April 2020, days after stepping down as senior royals on March 31, and six months later would launch its website. Now, two years later, Archewell encompasses three branches: The Archewell Foundation — a non-profit whose “core purpose is to uplift and unite communities — local and global, online and offline — one act of compassion at a time,” Archewell Audio, their audio-first production company behind Meghan’s podcast Archetypes, and Archewell Productions which has so-far announced their docu-series Heart of Invictus in partnership with Netflix.

The foundation has partnered with numerous organizations in their efforts such as the Aspen Institute, Center for Humane Technology, Global Citizen, UCLA Center for Critical Internet Theory and World Central Kitchen.

Chance the Rapper

SocialWorks Instagram

Chance the Rapper founded SocialWorks out of his hometown, Chicago, to “empower the youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement.”

Since 2016 the organization has funded five different initiatives: OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind.

Warmest Winter works with people experiencing homelessness and provides resources and support through service, donations and events. My State of Mind focuses on mental health and helps connect individuals to wellness professionals and programs. The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund has worked within the Chicago Public School System by providing grants to principals. To date, the fund has raised over $5 million according to their website.

OpenMike is a monthly event produced in partnership with the Chicago Public Library that provides high school students the opportunity to showcase their talents.

Kids of the Kingdom dates back to 1978 and is a faith-based summer day camp with a focus on performing and literary arts.

Miley Cyrus

Happy Hippie Foundation Instagram

Miley Cyrus founded the Happy Hippie Foundation to fight injustices facing homeless and LGBTQ youth as well as other vulnerable populations.

The organization works with these populations to provide support services, education as well as employment opportunities.

Miley was inspired to launch her organization in part after the passing of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, whose death was a big wake-up call for those who were unaware or unfamiliar with the hardships transgender youth experience daily. Cyrus’ foundation is privately funded so 100 percent of all donations directly benefit those in need.

“Our programs reach at-risk and disproportionately affected populations such as youth aging out of foster care, people living with HIV/AIDS, youth in conflict zones and people affected by crisis situations,” according to the website.

At the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, shortly before Happy Hippie Foundation was launched, Cyrus asked Jesse Helt, a homeless friend and her date for the evening, to take the stage and accept her award for video of the year.

“Young people should be able to enjoy their youth without worrying where their next meal is coming from,” she later Tweeted, defending Helt against reports of his criminal past. “Instead of rushing to judgment, we need to look deeper.”

Original posted at news.google.com

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