Oprah Wins Again! And So Do Her Charities

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December 13, 2010; Source: iVillage Entertainment | While some people like Travie McCoy, want to be a billionaire like Oprah with oodles of philanthropic giving under her belt, there were others on the Giving Back Fund’s list of the most charitable celebrities worth taking note of—including several who contribute not to foundations that they established and control, but directly to independent charities.

For example, Usher gave $1 million to the Clinton Global Initiative for youth services. Yeardley Smith, Lisa Simpson’s voice on The Simpsons, gave $900,000 to the Grameen Foundation. Boxer Oscar de la Hoya put $1.3 million into Green Dot Educational Projects in Los Angeles. And Tyler Perry gave $1 million to the NAACP, the largest individual contribution the organization has ever received.

Undoubtedly some of the celebrities’ eponymous foundations are doing good work as well, but it is notable that some celebs simply make out their checks to reputable charities and dispense with creating and running philanthropic middlemen.

When Travie raps, “I’d probably visit where Katrina hit, And damn sure do a lot more than FEMA did,” he joins the likes of Usher Raymond and Tyler Perry in reminding celebrities that charitable giving can be just as rewarding as being “on the cover of Forbes magazine, Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen”—even if they don’t quite make it into Oprah’s billionaire category.—Rick Cohen

  • Robert D. Skeels

    As of Spring 2010 Green Dot’s average API 657, Compton’s McKinley 684. Who determines failing schools? Why does Oprah favor charter-voucher schools over public schools?

    Last Spring Green Dot’s wealthy CEO, Marco Petruzzi, closed Animo Justice by fiat. The community was crushed, but since charter-voucher schools are run by unelected, private, secretive boards, they could do nothing. Green Dot subsequently opened new schools, including one in Petruzzi’s neighborhood of Venice.


    Oprah used to care somewhat about social justice issues. Now she is squarely in the school privatization camp. What caused her to side with the Walton heirs, William Gates III, and Eli Broad?

  • rick cohen

    Dear Robert: Don’t look to me to defend the charter schools. As you know from my previous writing here at NPQ, I am not sold on them by a long shot. The research data lately seems to be running against them, but that doesn’t stop their adherents, including those who are legion in Secretary Duncan’s Department of Education. Even though charter schools are components of the public school systems in which they operate, their relative freedom from public school rules makes them attractive to people who see “public” as somehow inferior to private sector alternatives, and charters to them feel private sector. Since we’re still in the midst of a recession in which private sector businesses brought this economy to its metaphorical knees, I think there’s no magic in private sector-emulating models like charter schools. If you have answers as to why you think so many liberals seem to endorse the charter school movement, please weigh in. Thanks.

  • Jacqueline

    I think many liberals are in the pocket of the private schools because they don’t like to see themselves as part of the rabble…the are unique individuals who need alternate education for their children..just my two cents.