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Jack Dorsey Gives $5M to Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income Experiment

In early March, while governments were still figuring out how seriously to take the COVID-19 crisis, Andrew Yang seems to have seen the writing on the wall. The former Presidential candidate launched Humanity Forward, a nonprofit focused on continuing the promises of his platform, especially Universal Basic Income (UBI) and data privacy by encouraging new voters and voting down-ballot, clear down to the local levels. Grassroots progress at its most democratic.

As March wore on and American unemployment suddenly rose from 4 percent to over 20 percent, Yang announced that his organization would begin experiments in offering UBI. They began with a $500,000 budget, experimenting in a small, unnamed New York town to study the benefits. On March 20th, CNN announced that Humanity Forward would spend $1 million in $1,000 payments to 500 low-income Bronx households during the crisis. 

Yang always planned to expand those numbers, if he could seek out additional funding. On Sunday, May 21, Jack Dorsey gave him some of that. The Twitter billionaire donated $5 million to Humanity Forward, and Humanity Forward has announced that plans to immediately distribute that money in $250 grants to nearly 20,000 people who have lost their jobs or their hours to the pandemic.

Dorsey, who backed Yang’s run for the presidency, believes that UBI is a necessary antidote to capitalism gone over the top, and that it can’t remain only an intellectual problem. “The only way we can change policy is by experimenting and showing case studies of why this works,” he said on Yang’s podcast, Yang Speaks.

“Not only will Jack’s donation directly impact tens of thousands of people in need during the current economic downturn, it will help Humanity Forward and our movement continue to make a case for universal basic income in the United States,” said Yang in a released statement. “We know UBI for every American is possible, and this $5 million from Start Small [Dorsey’s charitable foundation] is going to help demonstrate what is possible for families across the country.”

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO /

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A Man in India is Buying Oxygen Tanks and Giving Them Away

Months into the pandemic’s grasp, Mumbai remains one of the worst-affected cities in India by COVID-19, with over 60,000 current cases overrunning hospitals. Staff and facilities are overwhelmed, their workload far greater than they have supplies, time, space, or stamina for.

Shahnawaz Shaikh is not a doctor or an EMT, just a businessman. But for months, he’s been servicing as a pro-tem ambulance driver, ferrying potential COVID-19 patients in his cherished SUV to hospitals. It has been a selfless act of service – due to the risk of contagion, Shaikh has partitioned his house so that he doesn’t stand a chance of catching the disease from a passenger and passing it on to his wife and young daughter.

On May 28, the sister of Shaikh’s business partner passed away in a cab after being turned away from five overburdened hospitals because they had no beds or ventilators left to tend to the seriously ill. She was six months pregnant, and she drowned in plain air in her husband’s arms.

Doctor friends told Shaikh that the woman could have lived, had she been put on oxygen in time. It made him realize that he could be doing more than simply transporting the poor and ill. A little research showed him that while oxygen canisters were available to the public, high demand had driven up their price and caused a shortage.

“A friend of mine helped me contact a manufacturer directly. They were touched when I told them I wanted to buy cylinders and give them away for free.”

To finance the venture, Shaikh sold his SUV. He bought over 300 refurbished oxygen tanks and the supplies to use them, and enlisted a doctor to help made an instructional video, showing how to use them. So far, he’s provided oxygen kits to over 250 families in the poor districts of the city near him.

Source: Mumbai Mirror

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K-Pop Group BTS and its Fans Donate Millions to Black Lives Matter

BTS, aka Bangtan Sonyeondan, 방탄소년단, or the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-man boy band from Seoul. Performing, writing, and producing together since 2010, They’ve evolved from hip hop to a diverse pop-influenced style, trading heavily on the trials of personal growth and coming of age for material. Massively popular in South Korea, they used Youtube to leap into the international music market in 2017. Since then, 4 albums have topped the US music charts in the fastest rise since the Beatles. Globally, they were the second-best selling artists of 2018, and as of 2019, the group is reported to be worth 0.3 percent of South Korea’s Gross Domestic Product.

Their popularity and financial success have given the band a platform that they haven’t shied away from using. In 2017, they launched their Love Myself campaign with the aid of UNICEF, funding social programs to reduce violence against children and teenagers and to support victims of violence. The members of the band donated approximately $500,000 personally, and two years of all proceeds from the campaign’s merchandise sales. By 2019, the campaign had raised over $2 million.

Other philanthropic efforts included another partnership with UNICEF, their “Generation Unlimited” fundraiser to support continuing education for at-risk youth, and “Be the Brightest Stars,” a Starbucks initiative which raised money toward career support for disadvantaged Korean youths.

On June 6, BTS’s members revealed that they had donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, the international human rights movement addressing violence and authoritarian racism against black people. It was, at the time, one of the largest celebrity donations to come in the aftermath of the murder by police of George Floyd. The popular band’s army of fans were swift to match their donation, raising another $1 million for BLM under the hashtags #MatchAMillion and #MatchtheMillion. The fans also used their numbers to take over and drown out #WhiteOutWednesday, a tone-deaf or outright racist response to the black day of visibility, #BlackoutTuesday.

Source: CNN

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Magic Johnson’s EquiTrust to Donate $100M to Support Minority-Owned Businesses

When Earvin “Magic” Johnson retired from playing professional basketball in 2000, it was already obvious that he was not the sort of man who would just retire and ride out his substantial fortune for the rest of his days. He’d already tried his hand at coaching, and at hosting a television show, and starting a record label. And he was just getting started.

Today, Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a diverse conglomerate company with a net worth over $700 million, which dabbles in dozens of different industries. Briefly, he owned 125 Starbucks locations. At another time, a chain of movie theaters in his name. For a while, he owned part of the L.A. Lakers and a Pepsi bottling plant in Washington. And he continues to own a controlling interest in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company.

Under his direction, EquiTrust is going to donate $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for business owners who have been struck down by the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing minorities and children.

The donation, which will be distributed as forgivable loans via lender MBE Capital Partners, will be governed by the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, the small business stimulus plan meant to help small businesses keep their staff on the payroll, giving them a greater chance of weathering the crisis.

“These are incredible businesses, small businesses, that have been the pillar of our community that also employ a lot of black and brown people in our community,” Johnson said on MSNBC on Sunday, May 17. “… We wanted to make sure that minority-owned businesses got small business loans through the PPP program.”

His statement alludes to the concern that minority-owned businesses have been left out, after the PPP stimulus has run out, been renewed, and run out of funds again, with large percentages of the package being snapped up by businesses which are not by any means ‘small.’

Source: CNN

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Jay-Z and Meek Mill’s Initiative Urges Prisons to Address COVID-19

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the flea-spread typhus was spread so heavily in prisons that it was called jail fever. It spread unavoidably between inmates because they were crowded in conditions that didn’t allow them to take care of their own hygiene. And while endemic typhus is no longer a jailhouse plague, inmates are still particularly vulnerable to crowd-spread disease.

The steps we’re all taking to keep one another safe – social distance, frequent hand-washing, sanitizer, and masks – aren’t available to inmates. As of the end of April, over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in U.S. prisons and jails.

Reform Alliance, an organization launched in 2019 by rappers Meek Mill and Jay-Z, is an initiative dedicated towards prison reform, specifically aiming at challenging the for-profit prison model that many say results in over-sentencing. Their overall goal is to reduce the number of people subject to parole and probation law by one million before 2025, by changing laws and policies. But in the current crisis, more urgent goals have risen up.

“COVID-19 is ripping through our prison system and risking the lives of everyone inside,” says a pop-up when one visits Reform Alliance’s website, directing visitors to a petition they can sign with their Facebook information. The petition urges prison authorities to increase the safety of their facilities, including equipment, monitoring, and reporting.

Editorial credit: Debby Wong /

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Michael Jordan to Donate All Income From Blockbuster Documentary, ‘The Last Dance’

The Last Dance, which began airing on ESPN on Sunday, April 19th, is a ten-part documentary series about the career of athlete Michael Jordan. Using 106 interviews and excerpts from over 10,000 hours of sports footage of Jordan, the series will juxtapose Jordan’s rookie year in 1984 with his ‘last dance,’ his final season with the Bulls in ’89. Director Jason Hehir spent two years assembling the whole series. It was meant to be aired during the 2020 NBA Finals in June, but ESPN moved it up to fill the vast gaps left in their programming by current events.

According to one tracking website, Michael Jordan made nearly $90,000,000 in basketball. Smart business moves, including a number of real estate investments, have him sitting now at an estimated $2.1 billion, which makes him the wealthiest former athlete in the world.

‘The Last Dance’ is expected to make Jordan between $3 and 4 million, all of which Jordan has committed to donating to charitable causes. Which causes? He hasn’t yet released that information, but given current events, it’s likely safe to assume it will be something related to COVID-19 relief. And while that may seem like pennies in His Airness’s very large pockets, it’s hardly his only foray into philanthropy. Jordan has raised and personally donated millions of dollars to Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club Louisiana, Make-A-Wish, dozens of charities and a school in Chicago, and several hurricane relief foundations.

Other basketball players have also stepped up to the charity 3-point line during this time of crisis: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert (himself infected with COVID-19), Blake Griffin, Zion Wilson, and several other players have donated hundreds of thousands to help keep thousands of employees on the payroll at their home arenas, staff who would otherwise be jobless while professional sports are all on furlough.

Source: Forbes

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LEGO Retrofits Machines to Make PPE for Hospitals and Donates LEGO sets

On April 9th, Danish toy company LEGO announced that they had retrofitted dozens of their machines to make protective facial visors to donate to hospitals in Denmark and possibly around other EU countries.

“This week we began to make visors at our factory in Billund for healthcare workers on the frontline in Denmark. We are so incredibly proud of the team who made this happen. They worked around the clock to create designs and make molds that can produce more than 13,000 visors a day. We are grateful to have such talented, dedicated and caring colleagues,” said LEGO’s Instagram on Thursday, under pictures of the machines at work as well as several employees wearing their lightweight prototypes.

While visors aren’t the N95s that provide true protection, they’re an important part of PPE for many healthcare workers and first responders. Eyes can be a vulnerable inlet for infection, and a solid barrier make them much less vulnerable.

 LEGO, who has made the same high-quality plastic product for almost 90 years, is the world’s largest toy company by revenue with over USD$2 million a year in sales, and is #97 on Forbes’s list of the 100 Most Valuable Brands. They also announced, without details, that they would be donating 500,000 LEGO sets to children in need.

LEGO isn’t the only company stepping into action to help the medical industry during the COVID-19 crisis. James Dyson, inventor of Dyson vacuums, has been designing medical ventilators that can be easily made in bulk. In less than a week, he made and donated 5000 of his first design. Interior design company IKEA donated 50,000 high quality filter masks to a Swedish hospital after finding them in a warehouse, unused. A sports team donated use of their private jet to bring masks to New York and Boston, when they had exhausted all other channels to get them. And a tech company in China donated thousands of respirator masks to Italian hospitals while they were being hit hardest by the virus. Generosity, it can be hoped, will see us through this.

Source: Good News Network

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The Home Depot Donates Its Entire Supply of Masks to Fight Coronavirus

Prior to the current international health crisis, most health care workers would rarely need an N95 mask. The tight-fitting respirators use non-woven fibers to keep particles as small as viroids from passing through, either in or out, and they’re excessive for most health-care uses. Physician Sidnee McElroy, doctor and educator, reports that before COVID-19, she’d only worn one on the rare occasions she encountered a patient with active tuberculosis.

Suddenly, with the pandemic spread of the new variety of coronavirus, N95s are both vital and desperately under-manufactured. Health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients are reusing their masks or improvising inadequate versions from home-made supplies. Largely due to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), doctors and nurses have been over-represented among the infected, even among the dead.

The Home Depot, the large home improvement and construction supply company, is stepping into a medical supplier role in response to the shortages. Announced on April 1 but no April Fool’s joke, the company will be halting all private sales of N95 masks and donating their entire supply to hospitals, health care workers, and first responders.

The Home Depot typically sells them to contractors because they’re a common protection for people working in high-particle jobs, like dry wall, cement-cutting, or mining, or for people risking infection such as sanitation workers or exterminators. They were first invented for coal miners.

Several weeks ago, the company ceased resupplying masks to individual stores and asked each store to donate whatever they have left in supply locally. But when stores continued to sell them to the public, the corporate directive was put out, called a ‘stop sale.’

The corporation is also donating other relevant PPE as they find it in inventory. They will continue to use their supply chain and distributors to try to find more supplies to make them available to health-care workers.

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Rihanna Donates $5 Million to COVID-19 Response Efforts in At-Risk Communities.

The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) was founded in 2012 by singing star Rihanna and named for her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. The Foundation is dedicated to healthcare, educational reform, and emergency response. According to the Foundation’s Wikipedia page, “One of the core pillars of the Clara Lionel Foundation’s work is to transform the way the world responds to natural disasters.”

COVID-19 isn’t a hurricane, a flood, or a famine, but it is certainly a natural disaster, and in response, Rihanna and CLF have donated $5 million to front-line disaster response efforts in at-risk communities.

The $5 million will be portioned out to Direct Relief, Feeding America, the International Rescue Committee, Partners in Health, and the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, all groups helping to make sure that underserved communities maintain access to healthcare, food, and elder care during this difficult time.

“Never has it been more important or urgent to protect and prepare marginalized and underserved communities – those who will be hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Justine Lucas, the executive director of CLF.

Along with the large divided donation, Rihanna will be helping local food banks in at-risk communities in the U.S., Haiti, and Malawi, ensuring they can feed the elderly who should not under any circumstances be leaving their homes in this time. She will also be looking into ways to support accelerated testing efforts and provide protective equipment to health workers who are struggling to get it. She has already donated $700,000 worth of medical ventilators to her home country of Barbados.

This is a consistent area of focus for the superstar and her foundation; after Hurricane Dorian, CLF focused their efforts on mobile medical coverage and hospital rebuilding efforts in the hard-hit Bahamas. And since their inception, CLF has been working in conjunction with Engineers Without Borders to make hospitals more disaster-proof around the Caribbean.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar

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Action Movie Icon Donnie Yen Donates to Wuhan Medical Workers

Donnie Yen Ji-dan, or just Donnie Yen to most of the world, is a gem of the Hong Kong movie industry. He does everything; actor, director, producer, stuntman, choreographer. And for years now, philanthropist as well.

The star of international blockbuster Ip Man, a biographical film about the man who taught Bruce Lee martial arts, Yen is without doubt the highest paid actor in Asia. In 2013, for instance, he made HK$220 million (over US$28 million) for four projects and six ads.

On Wednesday, February 19th, Yen posted a half-minute video to Weibo, a Chinese social media site. In the video, he spoke Mandarin. Here is a partial translation, according to the South China Morning Post:

“Hello everyone, I am Yen Ji-dan. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the medical frontline workers [in China]. In this critical moment, everyone please protect yourself well by wearing a mask and washing your hands more often. Distance yourself from the virus but don’t distance love. I believe our country will win the battle against the virus and have the situation under control. Wuhan add oil, China add oil.”

The last line is a colloquial exhortation to work harder, to apply more effort. To that end, he accompanied his post with a donation of HK$1 million (US$128,353) to the medical workers in Wuhan. It’s unclear if it is a direct donation or if it is given to the hospitals and/or government in the area, but it’s going to be a valuable help to those fighting COVID-19, either way.

Yen has a history of philanthropy. In 2012 and 2015, he founded two charitable funds. The first was “Go.Asia,” a platform to help people donate to local communities. The second was Yen’s Honour Protection Fund, a legal fund for people to protect themselves from defamation.

Source: South China Morning Post

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