Celebrities champion all sorts of causes, and some have made it their mission to improve educational opportunities for students in the U.S. and abroad. Some stars have made major donations, while others have gone as far as starting their own schools.
Here’s how celebs like George Clooney and LeBron James are using their fame and fortune to fund schools.
Last updated: August 11, 2021
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper has contributed more than $2 million to help Chicago Public Schools support arts programming, USA Today reported.
“Funding for public schools is the single most important investment a community can make,” he told Chicago’s ABC7.
In June, George Clooney teamed up with Don Cheadle, Eva Longoria and principals at Creative Artists Agency to underwrite a Los Angeles Unified Public School District magnet school with a focus on setting high school students up for jobs in the entertainment industry. The school will teach classes on cinematography, engineering, visual effects and other technical skills.
Common is one of the founding partners of Art in Motion, a charter school in the South Side of Chicago that aims to “promote creativity and increase access to artistic pursuits,” Block Club Chicago reported. The school opened in 2019, serving about 200 seventh and eighth graders in its inaugural year.
Dr. Dre and his business partner Jimmy Iovine have joined with the Los Angeles Unified School District to open a new high school in South Los Angeles, CBS Los Angeles reported. The school “combines design, business and technology with hands-on, real-world learning to help develop young leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs,” LAUSD announced in June.
LeBron James and his charitable foundation provided about $600,000 in financial support to the I PROMISE School, an Akron, Ohio, public school dedicated to students who are “already falling behind and in danger of falling through the cracks,” The New York Times reported. The school implements specialized programming specifically designed to help these students succeed, including a longer school day, a STEM curriculum and an on-campus Family Resource Center.
Pitbull opened the Sports Leadership And Management Academy (SLAM) public charter school for students in grades six through 12 in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood in 2013, NPR reported.
“If sports is what you love, one way or another, it’s a business you can get involved with […] whether you’re a therapist, an attorney, a broadcaster,” Pitbull told NPR.
Shakira has opened seven schools in Colombia to help provide better education to students in her home country. She most recently teamed up with FC Barcelona and La Caixa Banking Foundation to contribute 1.2 million euros towards the opening of a school in the rural area of Barranquilla, The Borgen Project reported.
Taylor Swift donated $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013 to endow the Taylor Swift Education Center, Rolling Stone reported. The center includes three classrooms, a hands-on instrument room and a children’s exhibit gallery.
After a visit to South Africa, Oprah Winfrey was inspired to build a school for girls in the country as a way to even the playing field and battle poverty. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls opened in 2007, and since then over 500 girls have graduated from the school. The 52-acre campus has 21 state-of-the-art classrooms, six labs, a 10,000-volume library, manicured grounds, a 600-seat theater and modern dorms.
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