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A Spotlight on Celebrity Foundations

by Sherie Sanders on December 27, 2017
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Cool nightlife lights.jpegWe looked for a special topic that would that would fit the season this week— something with warmth, sparkle, and lots of heart. Stars came to mind! Not the kind that twinkle in the sky, but the kind that shine their lights by sharing their blessings. While celebrities are known for their generosity, many of the foundations they set up limit their funding to hand-picked charities and causes their backers are most passionate about. Quite a few have their own initiatives or award grants on an invitation-only basis. We focused on star-inspired organizations whose funding objectives have a bit more flexibility and/or closely overlap with the needs of local government and educational institutions.

The Tony Hawk Foundation - Skatepark Grants

Tony Hawk is a skateboarding champion/actor who wants to expand access to the sport. His foundation helps fund free public skateparks in underserved areas where they currently do not exist. Eligible applicants are state and local governments, schools and school districts, and nonprofits. The two deadlines for 2018 are January 10 and June 11.

The David Lynch Foundation

The The David Lynch Foundation helps organizations like schools, prisons, and those who work with underserved youth, veterans, and at-risk women implement scientifically validated Transcendental Meditation programs. They are currently not accepting additional applicants, but there is a waiting list available. In the meantime, explore videos and resources on their site about the stress-mitigating effects of meditation and how it can positively impact institutional environments.


The I.Am.Angel.Foundation from musician and Black Eyed Peas founder will.i.am provides college scholarships and supports STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs in schools. Coding, robotics, CAD skills, and creative thinking have been some of the subjects they work with. For more information on how to become involved, contact them directly.

 The Johnson Ohana Foundation

The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, founded by musician Jack Johnson and his wife Kim, supports causes related to the arts, music, and the environment. While they mainly fund nonprofits, previous grantees have included public schools, park foundations, and watershed conservation groups. Although grants are awarded by invitation only, and they do not accept unsolicited proposals, you can send them a brief email describing your organization and its objectives. Their current funding theme is plastic-free initiatives.

The Leary Firefighter Foundation

We have told you before about the Leary FireFighter Foundation started by actor Denis Leary, but it certainly merits another mention. The foundation provides grants for training, technology, and equipment to volunteer and professional fire departments.

Tips for Celebrity Donations

According to GrantSpace, the rich and famous are constantly bombarded with requests for money from people the world over. The best way to approach them may be through local ties and cultivation of the same type of relationship you would form with any other private foundation. For many celebrities, home really is where the heart is, as evidenced by Chance the Rapper, who recently raised $2.2 million for arts education in Chicago Public Schools. So what is the best way to find out who made good in your hometown? Believe it or not, Wikipedia may not be a bad place to start. While it is always prudent to double-check information gathered from this source, entries for cities typically have a "Notable People" section that lists local luminaries.

Compatible Causes

  • Look to the Stars - has a database with limited free search options that lists celebrities under the causes they advocate for. This has the potential to be useful to those looking for funders who may support their mission. While some fund raisers and grant writers have strict taboos against contacting those who do not accept unsolicited requests, others feel they have nothing to lose by asking. There are pros and cons to each side. Now is also a good time to mention this is not an endorsement of above website.
  • Charity Navigator - has compiled a list of charities that leading celebrity philanthropists support, and their own internal rating system to evaluate those organizations. (Ratings reflect the opinions of Charity Navigator and not eCivis.) The tool was intended to help people moved by the appeals of their idols evaluate their options for donations.

Your All-Star Experience

Do you have an experience with a celebrity foundation? Please share in the comment section below!  Go ahead!  Name drop!!!

A Rerun for Reading

Last year, our holiday-themed post was about the Icelandic literary tradition of Jolabokaflod, or the giving books as presents on Christmas Eve. We will reshare the list we compiled of private foundations that provide grants for books, reading, and literary causes.


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Topics: Funding News

3 min read time