Celebs Gone Good: How Black philanthropists are giving back

LeBron James, Ciara and Russell Wilson, and more have used their platforms for some serious good as of late

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From media mogul Tyler Perry to rap hitmaker Megan Thee Stallion, Black celebrities and philanthropists have been using their platforms to give back to communities, people, and good causes this year.

TheGrio is here to shout out Black philanthropy. While the past year and half has been a troublesome time for many, Black public figures and philanthropists, be it through their own organizations or donating to others, have been able to use their voices to pour into the people who need it most.

Tyler Perry

93rd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Tyler Perry attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Outside of his entertainment empire, Perry has truly used his influence in various philanthropic efforts. Kicking off his efforts back in 2009, Perry made a history-making contribution to National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Perry was recently honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Oscars, where he gave a rousing speech, urging people to “refuse hate.”

Outside of his various donations to help people in need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Perry also made headlines when he donated $100K to the legal defense fund for Breonna Taylor‘s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Variety reported that he donated four installments adding up to $100K directly to a GoFundMe set up for Walker helping to reach their goal.

Megan Thee Stallion

Glamour Celebrates 2021 Women of the Year Awards - Inside
Megan Thee Stallion at the Glamour Celebrates 2021 Women of the Year Awards on Nov. 8, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Glamour)

While Megan Thee Stallion has made a name for herself with her hit songs like “Savage” and “Body,” the rapper has also made a huge impact in the world with her philanthropic efforts. In this year alone, Stallion, born Megan Pete, made multiple donations for various causes and foundations.

Megan created a partnership with FashionNova Cares (the Woman on Top initiative), donating $1M to “help support women-owned businesses, women-focused charities and organizations, and scholarships,” theGrio previously reported. Through that partnership, she also donated $100K to the Breonna Taylor foundation, $50K to Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and more.

Ciara and Russell Wilson

Ciara Kicks Off Partnership with Ten To One Rum at Launch Event at Bourbon Steak Seattle
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara on Oct. 1, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Ten To One)

Through their Why Not You Foundation that launched in 2014, Ciara and Russell Wilson are “dedicated to fighting poverty through education, empowering youth to lead with a ‘why not you’ attitude.” The non-profit has continued to grow, especially this year, as they launched new campaigns and scholarships linked to the cause.

In October 2020, the couple donated $1.75M to an existing charter school in the Seattle area, rebranding it the Why Not You Academy. Wilson shared that the academy has been a long-time dream, and will operate as a tuition-free high school. The couple shared in a statement, “By providing students with access to innovative and equitable education opportunities they deserve, Why Not You Academy will equip today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.” 

LeBron James

LeBron James thegrio.com
LeBron James at the “Space Jam: A New Legacy” premiere on July 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LeBron James’ I Promise School opened back in 2018 and is “dedicated to those students who are already falling behind and in danger of falling through the cracks.” It’s one of the projects spearheaded by his LeBron James Family Foundation.

Per the official site, the foundation, “invests its time, resources, and attention in the kids of LeBron’s hometown of Akron, Ohio.” It’s grown substantially since its inception, adding numerous buildings and properties, effectively changing the entire educational landscape in Akron.

James told The New York Times earlier this year, “As we dug deeper into the work, we learned what it takes to create real, visible change. And that’s listening to what our community needs and then rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.”

Their latest project, the NYT reports, is the $2.875M purchase of Tangier, an entertainment and events center. The center is now called House 330, a “multi-use facility” for families in the community.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King"
Beyoncé and Jay-Z attend the premiere of Disney’s “The Lion King” on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

One of the biggest celebrity couples on the planet has been known for giving back, and this year was no exception. Their latest Tiffany and Co. campaign, while not without some backlash, was centered around one premise: a pledge to donate $2M to internship and scholarship programs for students attending historically Black colleges and universities.

This seems to be a common thread in all of the Carter’s partnerships and collaborations. Beyoncé‘s recent partnership with fitness brand Peloton also featured support for HBCUs, offering two free digital memberships to HBCU students. She shared at the time she was, “proud to celebrate the students at HBCUs with this donation, to encourage them to find and embrace their own wellness regimens.” 

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