Being a famous musician with millions of adoring fans often means having the platform, and financial means, to make a difference. Many of our favourite artists have welcomed this with open arms, opting to set up their own charities and foundations to help causes close to their heart. Here are 5 musician-founded charities you need to know about.
MILEY CYRUS – HAPPY HIPPIE FOUNDATION
Miley Cyrus started the Happy Hippie Foundation in 2014, with Cyrus stating the Foundation’s mission is: “To fight injustice in our world, specifically focusing on LGBTQ youth.”
As well as LGBTQ youth, the non-profit organisation aims to provide support services and education and employment opportunities to homeless youth and other vulnerable populations.
The idea for the Happy Hippie Foundation came to Cyrus after the loss of Leelah Alcorn, a young person struggling with gender identity. In a video posted on the Foundation’s website, Cyrus said:
“It really hurt me that she [Leelah] didn’t have anyone she could talk to, and I wish she would have had the Happy Hippie Foundation to reach out to.”
Supporters of the Happy Hippy Foundation, and Cyrus herself are often seen participating in rallies and marches – fighting for causes such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and the prevention of gun violence.
CHANCE THE RAPPER – SOCIAL WORKS
Chance the Rapper is fiercely protective of his home city. So much so in fact, that he set up Social Works, a charity that aims to empower youth in Chicago through the arts, education and civic engagement.
The non-profit organisation boasts initiatives such as the My State of Mind Initiative, which aims to unify the mental health community and increase access to services.
Social Works has also partnered with CPS (Chicago Public Schools) to offer The New Chance: Arts and Literature Fund, a grant which enabled 20 public schools across Chicago to expand student access to the arts in 2017 – 2018.
Within it’s 2017 – 2018 report, it’s claimed that The New Chance: Arts and Literature Fund has ‘helped to remodel and build new physical spaces [and] procure technology, supplies, equipment and instruments.’
STORMZY – CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR BLACK STUDENTS
Despite not formally running his own non-profit organisation, British rapper Stormzy has often been vocal about social injustice and the hardships facing black students in the UK.
In August 2018, Stormzy announced The Stormzy Scholarship, which would cover the cost of tuition fees and maintenance grants for four black British students accepted onto an undergraduate course beginning in 2018 or 2019 at Cambridge University.
Upon announcing the scholarships, Sormzy said:
“I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking – and if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down.”
JOHN MAYER – HEART AND ARMOR FOUNDATION
In February 2019, after eight years of research and pilot work, John Mayer officially announced the launch of the Heart and Armor Foundation.
The purpose of the foundation is primarily to protect the health of veterans, with its focus areas including: ‘healing mental health wounds with scientific discovery,’ ‘supporting women veterans with specialised research’ and ‘reducing isolation with peer-driven community programming.’
This is one of the charities that already has a list of accomplishments, as it supported three scientific research projects that prompted large follow-up grants from the Department of Veteran Affairs in its pilot phase.
LADY GAGA – BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION
Lady Gaga and her mum, Cynthia Germanotta, founded the Born This Way Foundation with the goal of supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people.
The non-profit organisation promotes kindness and inclusivity, celebrates individuality and encourages opportunity.
When speaking about the Born This Way Foundation and its aims with Oprah, Gaga said:
“Safety, skills, and opportunity. Number one, I want everyone to feel safe in their community. Two: developing the skills that are needed to be a loving, accepting, and tolerant person, and to also inject that sentiment into all the people around you. And the third […] I believe once you feel safe in your environment and you acquire the skills to be a loving and accepting person, the opportunities for you are endless to become a great functioning human in society.”
The Born This Way website also boasts a comprehensive section on ‘self-care tips,’ created with the help of the National Council for Behavioural Health and the National Association of School Psychologists to tackle common issues faced by young people on a daily basis.
What do you think of these musician-founded charities?
Text: Jo Bentham
Images: Business Wire, Medium, Capital Xtra, Vogue