Celebrity Involvement In Philanthropy- Here’s Where The Highest Donors Stand

Did you know that Many producers, writers, directors have made significant strides in setting up foundations to involve charity and philanthropy? When people think about charity or philanthropy they often attribute this to organizations like the Ford Foundation or the Red Cross, and although these bodies do address humanitarian efforts with generous donations, celebrities and people in the film industry also have their own strong-standing in philanthropic contributions

Forbes online reports that Authors, actors, artists, comedians, and supermodels were among the celebrities who made this year’s list, which takes into account the largest donations to charity made by them in 2010, according to public records and interviews with charities known for their celebrity affiliations. The data was also compiled by interviewing publicists, attorneys, agents, agencies, and managers for information about their clients. An interesting point to note is lack of records on donations made by a celebrity’s foundation. Most celebrity foundation donations are not taken into account because of the discrepancy in the source of funding, which sometimes proves to be inaccurate or even controversial.

One example of a celebrity who has donated generously is Jami Gertz. In 2014 actress Jami Gertz and her husband, Anthony Ressler, topped the list of the 30 Most Generous Celebrities compiled by The Giving Back Fund, a non-profit organization that tracks philanthropic giving worldwide. Their record donation of more than $10,000,000 to their own foundation is exemplary. Jami Gertz is not an actress who is incredibly well known in the mainstream space, but it is important to note that, Gertz’s deep-pocketed donation has much to do with the fact that her husband Anthony Ressler is the co-founder of Ares Capital, a Los Angeles investment firm that controls more than $40 billion in assets, which has also recently expressed interest in buying the Dodgers. As a team, their contribution adds to the generous offer many celebrity or entrepreneurial couples have made to philanthropy and charity.

Forbes online writes that in second place is Herb Alpert who gave $9,104,829 to his own foundation, aptly named the Herb Alpert Foundation. The Herb Alpert Foundation focuses on the arts, compassion and well being of students and intellectuals alike. This donation is followed by Actor/Director Mel Gibson, who signed a check of $6,853,020 to the AP Reilly Foundation, which he started to support the Holy Family Church. We see celebrities like George Lucas and famous writer Nora Roberts, donating to their own funds as well. The Nora Roberts Foundation is known to support literacy in the local community, with it’s additional areas of philanthropic focus on children’s programs, arts organizations, and humanitarian efforts.

Here is a list following the donations of celebrities in generous amounts.

1. Actress, Jami Gertz and her husband Antony Ressler — $10,569,002

2. Musician, Herb Alpert –$9,104,829

3. Actor, Mel Gibson — $6,853,020

4. Director, Producer, Writer, George Lucas — $4,250,000

5. Writer, Nora Roberts — $3,000,000

6. NFL Player, Ndamukong Suh — $2,600,000

7. MLB Player Lance Berkman and his wife Cara — $2,412,245

8. Actress Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer — $2,000,000

To learn more about celebrities who have given a generous amount to charity and philanthropy, click here

A Tech Millionaire, A Failing School System and $100 million

Philanthropic efforts are not always successful, we know this because the proof is in the report pudding. One major example of failed philanthropic efforts, in this case due to mismanagement of funds is the criticism fired at the International Red Cross over the missing $500 million donation to Haiti.

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg in partnership with Newark’s Cory Booker and a very excited Oprah Winfrey announced on national television, much to the disbelief of all future persons involved (Newark school administrators, parents and teachers) a new philanthropic effort to boost Newark Public schools with a $100 million donation.

Four years later, reports show that this effort has failed, and this failure is reflected in the failure of the initiative to involve the people of Newark in planning these efforts, decreased student performance and a lack of knowledge surrounding the Newark school system and public administration.


On the flip side of the coin, the effort was successful in increasing the number of Newark children within the charter school system. The initiative was also successful in improving a new teachers accountability contract, which holds teachers and school administrators to the goal of helping children grow and learn.
Despite these improvements, critics again point to studies which reflect the failure of this initiative in contending with internal factors like budget cuts, which only decreased student performance in a time where it should have improved. if teachers  and their salaries are being cut, how will students have more access to education?

In the view of the public, what could possibly have happened, again, to such a large sum of money? With no detailed response yet from Mark Zuckerberg of Cory Booker, while we wait we must remind ourselves on what prerequisite measures we need to make when dealing with philanthropy. The question remains, how can we be sure that effective spending is exacted where large philanthropic donations are involved?

If you would like to know more about the Zuckerberg donation story, visit this detailed article by The Washington Post

Word Giving: 7 Amazing Quotes On Philanthropy

Building a society free from decaying human dignity and poverty is incredibly hard. Governments have tried, failed, maybe even succeeded in temporarily building systems or organizations to tackle this issue, it however seems like more and more the world’s problems are getting worse.

Lately, the increased reporting on the migrant situation, the ongoing civil war in Syria and economic and civil strife in neighboring countries continue to hound our consciousness as a humanity hostage.

When fears take you to the level of helplessness,  it is our strength in numbers, born as philanthropic organizations, who do not mismanage funds, but cater to the human condition as promised, which gives us the zeal to move forward. Has progress been made? Yes. We have seen change effected by organizations like The Children’s Defense Fund, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and even the Red Cross in dealing with causes in humanitarian relief, children empowerment and education.

I wanted to list out some of greatest quotations on philosophy, to remind us that this is a journey and not a race. We need not lose hope as we are bombarded with more world problems. Here are some words by famous people who have been influential in humanitarian efforts to improve human conditions:

1. “If You can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” – Mother Theresa

2. “No one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

3. ” I wanted to give my children enough monty so they they could feel they could do anything, but not so much they could do nothing.” – Warren Buffet

4. ” I’m not doing my philanthropic work out of any kind of guilt. I’m doing it because I can afford to do it, and I believe in it.” – George Soros

5. ” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead

6. “There are only four things you can do with your money.
You can give it to the government.
You can spend it.
You can give it to your kids to their detriment. My three sons understand this. I never want to deprive them of the wonderful feeling of making it on their own. I don’t think you do your kids a favor by leaving them a lot of money, or letting them think they’re working with a net.
And the fourth thing you can do with your money is create something good with it. I think it’s incumbent on everybody with any amount of funds at all to start thinking like that.”
—James Kimsey

7.  “Every dollar makes a difference. And that’s true whether it’s Warren Buffet’s remarkable $31 billion pledge to the Gates Foundation or my late father’s $25 check to the NAACP.” – Michael Bloomberg


To read more awesome quotes on philanthropy, visit this list by Philanthropy Roundtable



It’s Time To Acknowledge That Athletes are also Just As Generous

In the world of charitable donations, names like The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation or Mark Zuckerberg can make even the most generous donor quake in their boots. These people have proved themselves exemplary in building funds to support medicine research, education and even as we learned recently, planned parenthood.

Celebrities and athletes are also generous donors in the world of philanthropy. Though not always on the same platform as tech entrepreneurs, athletes have been just as generous in giving to causes they care about. A common trend amongst celebrities and sports athletes is the establishment of foundations in their name. These foundations maintain the celebrities brands with that touch of “charity” but also allow them to make executive decisions in supporting causes they care about.

Here’s a list of people, whose level of generosity will shock you, especially when you compare their income or sponsorship deals to the amount donated

Tiger woods

Surprised? Golf’s poster child for startlingly prenuptial agreements and external sports scandal has been instrumental in providing educational opportunities for young children in the United States through The Tiger Woods Foundation, a non-profit organization he established in 1996 with the help of his now deceased father.

tiger woods

LeBron James

LeBron emotionally disenfranchised many fans with “The decision” in 2010, but that hasn’t stopped or thwarted his philanthropic efforts which he exacts through the LeBron James Family Foundation. The foundation supports after school programs, the Children’s Defense Fund, OneXOne and the Boy’s and Girls club which donated 2.5 million to in 2010.

lebron james


Andre Agassi

If you know Andre Agassi, you’ll know he won the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 1995 for his generous contributions. Agassi established a tuition free charter school to help students in the Las Vegas area prepare for college- the Andrea Agassi College Predatory Academy.

andre agassi

To learn more about athletes who have given to charitable causes, visit this article by CheatSheet


Pope Francis is Shaping How Millennials Interact With Catholic Philanthropist Organizations

With Pope Francis coming into New York city, streets will be closed, transportation hindered and people swarming in from areas all over the East cCast. Pope Francis is often described as one of most modern popes to come out of the vatican. He comes to us in a time when social theories and perspectives are evolving, and where religious leaders shy away from issues which they feel might misrepresent their religious institutions, the pope threads the conversation line lightly, sprinkling discourse with his own opinions which don’t shy too far from what the Vatican allows.

His presence and position on controversial topics in politics, religion and culture have positioned the vatican as an unexpected avenue for swaying international public opinion, and all eyes are on him as younger generations key into social discourse. Pope Francis views have shaken the core beliefs most people have about the papacy, the expected opinions of a pope, and the face of the Vatican outside of religion.

pope francis

In 2014, an internationally broadcast moment only showcased the pope’s ability to view world issues introspectively, he was quoted saying “Sister, through you I want to thank all religious sisters of the United States…’ Francis said to a beaming Sister Norma. ‘Be courageous. Move forward, always on the front line. And I tell you one thing more — is it ok for the Pope to say this? I don’t know — I love you all very much!

The Huffington Post highlights in this article, the potential influence of the pope on catholic philanthropists in the international community. As the pope’s visit to New York city draws closer, his team continually partners with an increasing number of philanthropic organizations who will also be organizing campaigns around his New York City visit. As external relations between the papacy and catholic philanthropic organizations get stronger, criticism on the pope’s severity with capitalism, the market system and businesses whose values stray away from human dignity are also increasing. The established partnerships with the catholic philanthropy organizations provide a way for the papacy to display alternatives ways of contributing to human life and dignity.

The pope’s visit will not only introduce him to the network of catholic organizations in the city, it will inspire young catholic philanthropists to continue to work hard to reach their religious and organizational goals, and remind the world about how deep the reach of the papacy is.

The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that roughly 3 in 10 millennial Catholics regularly attend mass. These numbers might appear small, but in terms of social influence they matter. Pope Francis’ reach in the millennial demographic continues to increase, and this increase will change how catholic millennials view their fate and donate to the papacy or associated catholic philanthropic organizations.

To learn more about the pope’s visit to New York and Catholic Philanthropy efforts, click here 

Developing A Hurricane Disaster Kit as a Family

With disaster preparedness and safety awareness, we can prevent an increase in the number of lives lost after an earthquake, flood or even storm weather. With weather related issues on the rise, disaster preparedness still stands as a primary goal in protecting ourselves and our families. According to FEMA, over 60 percent of American adults have little to no practices or strategies in handling the onset of natural disaster. One of the biggest excuses people have is claiming that they don’t have time to prepare. You know what they say about failing to prepare? You fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

I have written often about the advantages of disaster preparedness and how you can ensure your safety and the safety of your family. As we approach the cold weather here in the east coast, preparing your own disaster preparedness kit is one of the best ways to preempt for possible emergencies. Developing a family disaster also sets the tone for how your own children will prepare for disasters in the future. This is you. setting the stage for positive behavior and practices in the lives in your children. Here are some of the things you can do to develop your own disaster preparedness kit.

The health district’s recommendations for a family emergency preparedness kit include:

Prescription and over-the-counter medications
Toiletries, including soap
First-aid kit
Baby formula and diapers
Extra eyeglasses
Pet food/medications/leases/collars/ID tags
Extra batteries for flashlight(s) and radio(s)

Garbage bags
A CDC/DVD/flash drive with important documents and/or photos
Non-perishable food, ready-to-eat canned meats, soups, fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, protein bars, utensils, can openers, sterno heating.
One gallon of water per person per day and fluids with electrolytes.

If you would like to learn more about disaster preparedness , read this article


Here’s another cool video on preparing for a disaster

Hurricane Ruby Is On It’s Way- Here’s How To Prepare

Another disaster may be at our hands. The American Red Cross recently reported that they will be tracking the Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as hurricane ruby is making it’s way towards the islands. The American Red Cross will be taking several measures to prepare for Ruby. The storm will make landfall and will most likely pose a serious threat to people’s lives, their homes and their subsistence. Ruby is set to cross through densely populated areas, meaning that it will affect millions of people.


Blake Rubin explores the Red cross work in the phillipines

These are the steps the red cross is taking to make sure they are prepared for this disaster.

  • Establishing red cross disaster response teams and volunteers to increase communication between staff and displaced persons
  • Evacuation centers with additional staff and responders to have clear communication and access to displaced persons
  • First aid support on stand-by with pre-positioned teams throughout the city. The Red cross will come equipped with relief items like food, medicine, sleeping mats and hygiene kits. There will be emergency equipment like water trucks, generators, chainsaws and communication gear.
  • These relief materials will be provided to up to 30,000 families in Manila, Cebu and Subic.

Here on the east coast, there may be storms here or there as the weather and the seasons change. Here are some things you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of your family during a storm from a hurricane.

  • Make sure you have adequate disaster supplies
  • Unplug any of your small appliances from your outlet
  • Make sure to fill your car’s gas tank
  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters and make sure to board or plywood your doors.
  • Pay attention to evacuation orders and plan accordingly
  • Turn off your propane tanks as they can be liable to damage and will be inflammable.

Global Crisis Response: The Red Cross In Nigeria

Blake Rubin here again

Overview of the 2012 Flood in Nigeria

In 2012, Nigeria experienced one of the worst floods in 40 years of it’s history. Records show that the floods affected over 7 million people, with

Blake Rubin explores the global response from the Red Cross to Nigeria

Nigeria 2012 flood

363 people killed and 2.1 million people displaced. The rainy season in Nigeria is known to present problems with increased torrential downpours flash floods, often exacerbated by overcrowded slums, poor drainage and efficient disaster management practices. A lack of infrastructure to support its citizens both before and after the floods also contributed to the large number of displaced people. I’ve written on countries and governments making sure that disaster crisis can be improved upon with proper infrastructure and raising awareness on safety and precaution. The flooding also damaged infrastructure like bridges, buildings,  and agricultural crop supply thereby heightening food insecurity.

In this incident, the Nigerian government was unable to provide immediate relief to displaced persons as they experienced these problems. CNN even reports that in addition to the damage caused by the flood, crocodiles, hippos, snakes and other riverine animals also became displaced and found their way into people’s homes. Improper crisis management continually plagues developing countries, and this can contribute to increased number of deaths from natural disasters, as well as mismanagement in spending both on the end of international bodies like the Red Cross and the country experiencing the crisis.

International Red Cross Response To The Crisis

The International Red Cross responded to this crisis with their immediate priority being to provide relief to displaced persons. The Red Cross deployed shelter and relief stations with shelter specialists to operate these service centers. A provision of $100,000 was made to contribute to relief funds.

What has changed since then

Because of the problems with infrastructure mentioned above and financial mismanagement which is rampant in Nigeria, it has been difficult to measure the impact of this contribution to the displaced persons from the 2012 flood. With another flood disaster in 2013, even more spending and relief efforts from the red cross were needed.


Five Ways To Ensure Your Safety In A Wildfire

Wildfires are no joke, and the possibility of this happening around you is very tangible. Now that wildfire season is fast approaching, ensuring you and your family’s safety should be at the forefront of your mind, especially if you live in these regions in the United States:


Wildfire Hazard Maps


One ghastly incident worth mentioning, is the July 25th fire at The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vega. New York Magazine reports that the fire may have been started by a “lit cigarette”.  As much as Nevada state is susceptible to wildfires, the same human errors also contribute to firs we have in the wild-human negligence. This is the result of human negligence

cosmopolitan-hotel-pool-cabanas-burnt-700x394First, you’re probably better off downloading the Red Cross emergency App, to learn more about how you can protect you and your family in life threatening natural disasters. The App provides information, not just on wildfires, but also on earthquakes, tsunamis, floods amongst other natural disasters. Here are some of the things you can do to ensure your safety in the case of a wildfire, this is, after making sure you are playing your part by not negligently contributing to their start.

  1. Make sure you are ready to leave at a moment’s notice, and make sure you have a first aid kit and anything needed for your safety and survival.
  2. Keep abreast with the news in your are by tuning in to local stations and news channels
  3. If your area is threatened, communicate with friends and family outside your area to seek temporary housing
  4. Always back your car into the garage or parking, in a way that allows for your quick exit.
  5. Make sure you keep pets confined to one room to have easy access to them if you need to leave immediately.

Six Ways to Improve Earthquake Preparedness

In the wake of global earthquakes and shattering news by NPR and ProPublica highlighting the Red Cross’s failure to provide adequate documentation and deliverables on the fate of the awarded $500 million in aid, it is worth noting that inadequate risk management practices , lack of sufficient infrastructural funding in addition to the intensity of the quake and population density were major contributors to the Haiti earthquake crisis. As a developing country, residential infrastructure and building regulations still do not follow the best practices for earthquake resistance.


For the blog livescience.com, Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards program reports that “Unfortunately, Haiti has a rather poor economy, and not wonderful building style for earthquake resistance, so we would expect that we would see quite severe and widespread damage from this earthquake.”. Here in the United States, various regulatory bodies legislate like FEMA or the California Seismic Safety Commission legislate building codes and residential laws to protect citizens and improve earthquake resistance. These are some of the benefits of living in a developing nation. Hypothetically, if you are in a country without strong earthquake resistance laws or proper infrastructural practices needed to protect the safety of it’s citizen, how would you ensure your own safety? Here are five earthquake safety tips which are implementable wherever you find yourself.


1. Find a safe place in any room in your residence

2. Find a place under strong and sturdy furniture

3. Stay away from things which are not properly secured, or are liable to loosen off their places on ceilings or walls. This means stay away from bookcases, chandelier or light fixtures and windows.

4. As a precaution, be sure to secure or bolt down water heaters, gas appliances, electrical appliances and anything that could cause your house to be a hot bed for chemical reactions or explosions.

5. Hang heavy items away from any place that could be a potential secure spot if and when an earthquake happens.

6. Speak with your local government or community councils about improving safety conditions for people in your community even if that involvement means pushing readily implementable safety practices despite the lack of governmental or infrastructural support.

Remember, population density and lack of awareness have played major roles in the high death tolls during earthquakes and succeeding aftershocks. You can play your part however you can, and that could be helping to educate your community. For more details on earthquake safety, read more here on the Red Cross Website.