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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


Bank of America Pledges $1 Billion to Address Racial Inequality

In 2013, Bank of America was fined $2.2 million after a judge found them guilty of racial discrimination in the hiring practices at their Charlotte, North Carolina offices. Over 1,100 African-American job seekers were denied due to what the judge called “unfair and inconsistent selection criteria” over the previous two decades. While a formal complaint about that discrimination was filed against BoA in 1997, more than 15 years of intentional stalling tactics delayed a resolution until after a number of information leaks revealed corrupt tactics in those same offices.

Hopefully, they’ve had a thorough house-cleaning. CEO Brian Moynihan, who was not implicated in the above corruption or discrimination even though he was in power at the time, announced in a press release on Tuesday, May 2nd, that Bank of America would be donating $1 billon over the next four years in channels meant to help address racial inequality.

Moynihan made a strong statement that the current unrest was in no small part due to “underlying economic and social disparities” having been made worse by the pandemic, which has has disproportionate impact on minorities in the United States.

“We all need to do more,” he said.

The $250 million a year will be channeled into health services and small business support in communities of color, and BoA locations in those communities will be required to seek new employees from their neighborhoods. It is a massive expansion of BoA’s previous donations to nonprofits, and will expand their low-interest loans to small, minority-owned businesses.

While it is a generous donation program, Bank of America could certainly afford to do more. They reported revenue of $27.4 billion in 2019, as well as repurchases of $34 billion in shares. Perhaps they could donate a little more of the $1.9 billion tax refund they received in 2010, a year in which they paid no federal taxes.

Source: CNN

Editorial credit: Tero Vesalainen /

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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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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donates $13.6M to Antibody Testing

In 2015 on the birthday of their daughter, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub to fight disease worldwide. In the past 5 years, most of their activities have been towards securing funding beyond the $1 billion in yearly funds coming from Facebook shares, but now they are taking a step forward.

On Wednesday, April 29th, Zuckerberg announced that the Initiative would be donating $13.6 million towards COVID-19 antibody testing in San Franscisco, and coordinating with Stanford University and the University of California to conduct antibody studies in the Bay Area.

There will be two studies, one of which has already begun. The first will test 4,000 Bay Area volunteers monthly for both active COVID-19 and for the antibodies which will indicate they’ve encountered the disease before. That one will run from April into December, and be used to track where new cases emerge, helping to guide a safe return to normal.

The second study will be localized to frontline health care workers. 3,500 doctors, nurses, and EMTs will be tested weekly to determine how heavily and quickly the medical community can be hit. It will also work on determining if prior infection means future immunity, which is so far an unknown factor. Many important things hinge on whether or not you can re-catch the disease, and no one really knows yet.

Both studies are intended to be used as guideposts in reopening business and normal life in and around San Franscisco, but their data will have world-wide applications. The Chan Zuckerberg donation is the largest single share of funding coming into this vital project.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg also mentioned combining the data from both studies with the self-report symptom surveys that Facebook has been running for a Carnegie Mellon research group, which could provide even more information.

Source: The Week

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO /

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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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Rihanna Expands COVID Philanthropy, Teams up with Jack Dorsey

Robyn Fenty, better known as the celebrity music artist Rihanna, is on the philanthropic front lines of the COVID-19 impact on the world. In March, her charity the Clara Lionel Foundation (named for her grandparents) donated $5 million to relief efforts both in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

She also donated an unknown quantity of personal protective equipment to hospitals in New York State. In early April, her foundation teamed up with the Shawn Carter Foundation belonging to rapper Jay-Z to provide $2 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief for health workers, first responders and their children, as well as the elderly, incarcerated, homeless, and undocumented in New York City and in Los Angeles.

Now, in mid-April, while Rihanna’s own father recovers from COVID-19, the Clara Lionel Foundation and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, are joining forced to each donate $2.1 million to a very special cause.

The Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles goes to support victims of domestic violence, perhaps the population put most at risk by the shelter-in-place order that is still vitally necessary. The $4.2 million combined donation will provide ten weeks of support to individuals at risk. It will include shelter, meals, counseling, and child-care for those fleeing domestic violence in this time when shelters are either packed and at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, or simply closed.

Rihanna herself is a survivor of domestic violence, as are over 12 million men and women each year in the U.S. With millions out of work, law enforcement agencies have said that calls involving domestic violence have been surging wildly. Estimates of the increase are between 18 and 30%, with four times as many more people seeking help.

Rihanna and Dorsey both acknowledge that while this donation helps only L.A., “victims of domestic violence exist all over the world, so this is just the beginning.”

Source: Vogue

Editorial credit: JStone /

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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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Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey Pledges $1 Billion to Fight COVID-19

Jack Dorsey founded Twitter, perhaps the most impactful of all the social media giants, in 2006 when he was 30 years old. He followed it up by developing Square, a banking company facilitating e-payments via smart phone. Seven years later, only hours after Twitter went public, Dorsey became a billionaire. Now in 2020, his net worth is estimated around $5.5 billion.

On Tuesday, April 7th, Dorsey announced that he would be donating $1 billion to COVID-19 response and relief efforts. He’s going to liquidate that amount by selling his shares of Square stock over the next year or so via his newly founded foundation, Start Small. The foundation, which is currently an LLC for the purpose of selling off those shares at a rate planned to impact their value as little as possible, will transparently distribute the funds to relief efforts around the world.

“After we disarm this pandemic,” tweeted Dorsey, “the focus will shift to girl’s [sic] health and education, and UBI.” 

He continued that it would operate with complete transparency, all finances tracked in a publicly available google worksheet.

Dorsey may keep a lower profile than his counterpart social media icon, Mark Zuckerburg, but he’s been a large name in philanthropy from his start. In the last few years alone, he’s funded the needs of 600 Missouri public schools, donated a third of a million to the massive reforestation project #TeamTrees, and gave back 10% of his stock in Square to distribute among his employees. He’s also made multiple donations to Democratic party candidates, including Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard.

This $1 billion donation is the largest private donation to any global cause in over two decades, since CNN founder Ted Turner pledged $1 billion to help create the United Nations Foundation in 1997. It represents between a third and a fifth of his full fortune, depending on how you work out his net worth.

Photo: Editorial credit: JStone /