A celebrity charity has a unique way of gaining instant notoriety and increasing media coverage for social causes. While there may be a handful of celebs who join forces with philanthropic causes with the primary intent of boosting their own public image, there are just as many stars whose charity contributions have meaningful impact, in terms of both monetary support and awareness for the cause. Here’s a look at how six stars have used their fame and influence to contribute to the greater good.
Ever since “Titanic” launched him to stardom, Leonardo DiCaprio has been a staunch advocate about protecting the world’s natural resources, oceans, wildlife and forests and restoring balance to threatened ecosystems. According to the LDF website, the charity has helped to mobilize more than 25 million people to make their own positive contributions to environmental issues. Thanks to LDF and its accomplishments, DiCaprio also earned the role of United Nations Messenger of Peace for Climate Change and serves on several nonprofit boards, including the World Wildlife Federation and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas.
Matt Damon co-founded Water.org with the producers he collaborated with on his 2009 documentary “Running the Sahara.” The foundation’s mission is to provide clean drinking water to the more 600 million people in the world who lack it, as well as sanitation solutions to the more than 2.4 billion people who don’t have access to basic plumbing. To date, the celebrity charity has impacted the lives of 4 million people served in areas including Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Founded by Bette Midler in 1995, the NYRP is dedicated to providing all New Yorkers easy access to green space, no matter where they reside in the city. The NYRP has planted more than 1 million trees throughout the Big Apple and provides funding for community revitalization projects in areas like Harlem and the South Bronx. It also supports the development of community gardens throughout all five boroughs.
Jennifer Lopez co-founded her nonprofit with her sister Lynda to improve health care access for underserved women and children across the globe. The Lopez Family Foundation opened its first telemedicine center in Puerto Rico seven years ago and has since built seven similar facilities throughout Panama. The celebrity charity also opened the Center for a Healthy Childhood in the Bronx in 2014 to promote healthy outcomes for women and children.
Salma Hayek and Beyonce Knowles joined forces with Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini in 2015 create the charity Chime for Change. Its mission is to promote education, justice and health for women around the world. It has funded more than 400 projects that support women and girls in 86 countries. Some notable projects include literacy classes for girls in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kenya, more than 12,000 neonatal tetanus vaccines administered in Cambodia and health care treatment offered to nearly 5,000 Syrian refugees.
Knowles may have been inspired to use her influence for social good by her husband Jay Z, who co-founded the Shawn Carter Foundation with his mother back in 2003. The foundation has offered $3.6 million to help young adults facing socioeconomic hardship fund the costs of higher education by way of scholarships, college tours, study abroad and give-back programs.
Megastar Elton John founded his nonprofit EJAF 25 years ago with the mission of ending the AIDS epidemic through global education about the prevention and spread of the disease, as well as assistance programs for those living with HIV and AIDS. The foundation has raised $385 million since it was founded. EJAF has received the honorable distinction of four-star charity (the highest possible rating) by Charity Navigator for its fiscal management and effectiveness in proactively addressing the many global populations impacted by the disease.
We all want to make a difference in the world. These celebrities actually do. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to make change. Whether it’s investing in one of these charities or simply helping out your neighbor in need, we all can do our part to make a postive impact on the world.