Touched By the Santa Fe Shooting, JJ Watt Offers to Pay for Funerals

Touched By the Santa Fe Shooting, JJ Watt Offers to Pay for Funerals

May 20

On Friday, May 18th, a teenage boy armed with his father’s guns killed 10 people and wounded an additional 10 at Santa Fe High School, located about 30 miles outside of Houston. Coming less than two weeks before the end of the school year, the shooting put a terrible cap on a very difficult year for the school’s 1,400 students. In September, Hurricane Harvey flooded the town and caused dozens of evacuations. In February, there was a shooting scare caused by a prank. And now this. J.J. Watt, 28, was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011, and ever since then has been a force for charity in the local area. His charitable organization, the Justin J. Watt Foundation, provides after-school athletic activities for students and holds an annual Charity Classic softball game in Sugar Land, Texas. He raised over $37 million for the community’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey, over a hundred times his initial goal of $200,000. After the shooting, Watt tweeted a short, heartfelt reaction: “Absolutely horrific,” he said. A day later, on May 19th, the Texans confirmed that Watt would be paying for the funerals of all 10 shooting victims. “On behalf of the Texans organization, we are saddened by the tragic events at Santa Fe High School this morning and extend our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families, and all those affected. We are grateful for the brave first responders, law enforcement officials, and medical personnel. The Texans family will continue to pray for our neighbors,” said the team in a released statement. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Watt invited a number of affected families to the team’s field to hang out, loading them up with signed merchandise. He’s also hosted events for children orphaned in car crashes and visited children’s hospitals dressed as Batman. While he hasn’t any children of his own, it’s clear that children and their struggles loom large in his...

Beyoncé Donates to Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Beyoncé Donates to Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Apr 19

Dressed in a black leotard fitted with white glitter and gems, with a bejeweled headdress and gold-headed cane, Beyoncé’s two-hour performance at Coachella was historic. No other black woman soloist has headlined for the California music festival. Guest appearances in her performance included her sister Solange and her old group-mates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. For this two hours, Time Magazine’s Money estimates that she made between three and four million dollars. It sounds pretty impressive, but believe it or not it’s actually on the low end of what the singer can command for appearances. On her Formation World Tour in 2016, she made approximately $5.2 million per night, and that was while she was pregnant. Despite having cultivated a reputation for a lifestyle dripping in diamonds, the superstar is paying it forward. Immediately after Coachella, she announced that four schools would be new beneficiaries of her BeyGOOD initiative, which intends to set examples of giving back via empowerment. Beyoncé founded BeyGOOD in 2013 during the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. It has raised funds for communities in crisis and communities in need of support for the past five years. Via BeyGOOD, Beyoncé will be giving four $25,000 scholarships to historically black colleges and universities. The recipients will be Xavier University (LA), Wilberforce University (OH), Tuskegee University (AL), and Bethune-Cookman University (FL). “We salute the rich legacy of historically black colleges and universities,” said Ivy McGregor, director of Philanthropy and Corporate Relations at Parkwood Entertainment, where BeyGOOD is managed. “We honor all institutions of higher learning for maintaining culture and creating environments for optimal learning, which expands dreams and the seas of possibilities for students.” The schools that received the BeyGOOD scholarships will be able to award them to students in the 2018-19 school year, for any of a dozen or so fields of study. Finalists and winners are to be announced in the summer of this year. Photo...

Amber Heard Honored for Generous Donation to Children’s Hospital

Amber Heard Honored for Generous Donation to Children’s Hospital

Apr 10

For those who follow celebrity news, the news that Amber Heard (former wife of actor Johnny Depp as of August 2017) donated the entirety of her $7 million divorce settlement to battered women is not fresh. But on Monday, April 9th, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was the first recipient to confirm her statements to that end. Under the hospital’s “Honor Roll of Donors,” Heard’s name is listed with the statement “On behalf of all the children and families whose lives you have impacted, and everyone at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we offer our sincere thanks.” Her name is featured in the category of $1 – $5 million donors. The rest of the $7 million was split among various other charities that focus on preventing violence against women, reported People Magazine. “My philanthropic efforts have always been centered around medical care, especially with women and children,” Heard told People. “Medical care always struck me as a basic human right and necessity.” Heard, who is 23 years younger than Depp, divorced him with a restraining order and public accusations of abuse after only 15 months of marriage. For many, her immediate disposal of her divorce settlement has been taken as evidence that her accusations have merit. “As described in the restraining order and divorce settlement, money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully help those less able to defend themselves,” said Heard in a statement back in August. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, treats more than half a million pediatric patients a year and relies on donors like Heard to fund their quarter of a billion dollars in community benefits including neighborhood clinics and pro bono care for disadvantaged families. Over a century old, the hospital offers hundreds of pediatric specialties, making it invaluable to children’s health...

Tech Giant Cisco Addresses San Fran’s Homeless Crisis

Tech Giant Cisco Addresses San Fran’s Homeless Crisis

Apr 06

Homelessness is a massive problem in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the average rent is between $3,000 and $4,000 a month. A comfortable minimum salary to live in the neighboring city of San Jose is $87,000 a year, or $42 an hour, but precious few make that much. Food service in the area pays about $12 an hour, and healthcare support pays $19 an hour. So many people and families—even employed people—wind up homeless. “Though homelessness seems intractable, I believe that it is a solvable issue,” wrote Chuck Robbins. “I also feel very strongly that we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to do something about it.” Chuck Robbins is the CEO of Cisco Systems, maker of internet gear like routers and data cables. He recently announced that the company would be donating $50 million over the next five years to help address the growing homeless crisis. The donation will be given to Destination: Home, a public-private partnership focused on obtaining housing for those living on the streets. That housing is considered the first step in alleviating many problems, including healthcare, joblessness, and family reunification. The funding will also include a budget for data collection, to evaluate how resources should be used most efficiently. Ray Bramson, chief impact officer for Destination: Home, hopes that Cisco’s noble move will inspire more Silicon Valley companies to offer their support. “No one agency, no one organization can really do it alone,” he said in the partnership’s response to Cisco’s donation, which may be the largest donation ever from a Silicon Valley company. Employing over 73,000 people, Cisco Systems is a part of the worker boom that’s driving up the housing prices in the Bay Area. So Robbins’s words about responsibility mean exactly that. Hopefully, more tech giants will devote resources on this level to help solve the problems they...

Ghana School Without Computers Receives Donation from Microsoft

Ghana School Without Computers Receives Donation from Microsoft

Mar 21

Richard Appiah Akoto is a junior high school teacher in Ghana who had a major obstacle. His students will have to pass an exam including computer skills questions, but his school hasn’t had any computers since 2011 due to budget shortfalls. He has over 100 students between 14 and 15, and only one of them managed to achieve an A grade last year. So Akoto rose to the challenge. In chalk, he did a detailed walk-through of common software like Microsoft Word, showing them how to launch and operate the programs. He put a few pictures of his process online, via his Facebook. The pictures went viral, spreading like wildfire across Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. One person spreading the post tagged @MicrosoftAfrica in her tweet. She wrote: “Hey @MicrosoftAfrica, he’s teaching MS Word on a blackboard. Surely you can get him some proper resources.” The same day, Microsoft Africa replied, saying they would get a device to Akoto, along with training resources. In the next few weeks, they flew him to Singapore for computer training and to attend an educator’s conference. In the meantime, the viral post was catching other people’s attention. A benefactor at University of Leeds in the U.K. sent Akoto a laptop for his students. NIIT Ghana, a local computer training school, donated five desktops, books on computer skills, and a laptop. Akoto’s Facebook page is flooded with comments from individuals, companies, and news agencies offering more help. Small donations, from the donors’ perspectives. But the value added to Akoto’s school and to the education of his students is immeasurable. His drawings were meticulous, ambitious, and a wonderful learning tool when nothing better was available. But teaching and learning on the real thing will take his students so much further. Another example of how social media has proven to be a powerful tool for those in...

High Profile Celebs Donate Big Bucks to March for Our Lives

High Profile Celebs Donate Big Bucks to March for Our Lives

Mar 15

Four donations totaling $2 million are on the way for March for Our Lives, a planned demonstration to take place in Washington D.C. and across the United States on March 24th. March for Our Lives is a protest against the political inaction allowing gun violence to continue to become a regular occurrence in schools across the country. The donors of such a generous sum are George and Amal Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Oprah. Clooney was the first to announce that he would be contributing $500,000 and his own presence at the march, swiftly followed by matching contributions from the other three. “Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School. Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side-by-side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country,” Clooney wrote in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday, February 12th. Survivors of the Stoneman Douglas massacre have been vocal in their criticism of “thoughts and prayers” coming from politicians who have regularly voted against any attempts to introduce tougher gun laws. The students believe stricter regulations could have prevented the deaths of the 17 people who were murdered in the attack. Once the donations come in, the event will have raised more than $2.7 million, nearly triple its proposed $1 million goal on GoFundMe. “In every single city, we are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives. This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about the adults. We feel neglected. At this point, you’re either with us or you’re against us,” said Cameron Kasky, one of the leaders of March for Our Lives, in an interview with ABC. “Not one more,” reads the March’s mission statement. “We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of...