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All over the world, celebrities and everyday heroes alike have been carrying the torch for racial equality, attending protests, and making their voices heard. With sizeable platforms and notoriety, celebrities have the power to inspire positive change and lead the calls for equality – and they’re doing just that. From donating to programs created to help BIPOC students succeed, to supporting under-privileged business owners, these celebrity heroes are using their platforms to champion social justice.
Beyonce’s BeyGOOD foundation
teams up with NAACP to launch Black-Owned Small Business Impact grants
Beyonce Knowles’ BeyGOOD foundation is working with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to offer grants of $10,000 to small businesses facing difficulties as a result of COVID-19.
The Black-owned Small Business Impact Fund will offer grants of $10,000 to “Black-owned small businesses in select cities to help sustain businesses during this time,” NAACP said.
“The NAACP is proud to partner with BeyGOOD to help strengthen small businesses and to ensure economic empowerment for Black businesses,” the Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund’s website description reads.
“The challenges of Black business owners navigating in the climate cannot be understated, as the effects of uprisings across the nation have led to many businesses being placed in dire straits due to damages and other small business needs.”
The Formation icon was recognized for her philanthropy endeavours with this year’s BET Humanitarian Award, which she dedicated to protestors across the country. During her acceptance speech, she encouraged viewers to vote “like our life depends on it” in the upcoming US election, calling on them to “dismantle a racist and unequal system” in the country.
“I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change,” Beyonce said, referencing the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. “Your voices are being heard, and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.”
Her speech won praise from Barack and Michelle Obama, who applauded her for promoting younger performers and for “calling out sexism and racism when she sees it.”
Beyonce wasn’t the only winning member of her family during the BET Awards. Her tune Brown Skin Girl, which features her daughter Blue Ivy Carter, took home the BET Her Award – making the eight-year-old the youngest-ever BET Award winner.
U.S. women lend support to female business start-ups
Members of the U.S. women’s national soccer side are using their experience as female entrepreneurs to lend their support to businesses selling everything from coffee to lingerie, as part of the team’s mission to try to level the playing field for women.
A project called Stacy’s Rise will award 15 female entrepreneurs $10,000 each, as well as advertising services and executive mentorship from successful women, including U.S. Soccer World Cup champions Christen Press and Tobin Heath.
Press and Heath, who launched online clothing retailer Re-Inc last year with teammates Megan Rapinoe and Meghan Klingenberg, said they wanted to impart some of the lessons they learned.
“The exciting part is sharing our experiences as female entrepreneurs with others,” Press said.
“Coming from a sports background, we have amazing access to people and a world-class team. And we’ve had amazing mentors.”
Heath said she felt fortunate to “get to give” back.
“What we’ve gained from mentorship to what we’ll be able to give to these 15 winners is really powerful,” she said.
Virgil Abloh raises $1m for fashion scholarship
Fashion designer Virgil Abloh teamed up with the Fashion Scholarship Fund to launch the Virgil Abloh ‘Post Modern’ Scholarship Fund, in a bid to help talented young Black creatives in the industry.
“As a Black designer, I found my way through school, and a mixture of creative projects, and I had to make a name for myself. That took a lot of years and a lot of meetings and a lot of runway shows and a lot of work, and I wanted to make that door open for a younger generation to sort of have a pathway that stays open,” Abloh said in an interview with WWD.
Abloh says this scholarship will offer more than just funds; it will also provide career support and mentoring, with some of his friends in the industry even pledging to give masterclasses.
“I wanted to showcase the future of ‘charity’ or giving back doesn’t have to be like the past,” Abloh said. “There are all sorts of avenues that help erase systemic racism, but also how you can donate time, mentorship, access, Rolodex, advice — you know, being there for a younger generation. I’ve always done lectures at schools, and I think that’s super important.”
The Virgil Abloh ‘Post Modern’ Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships to between 100 and 200 promising fashion students of Black, African American, or African descent.
Star athlete Ash Barty promotes tennis in Indigenous communities
French Open champion Ash Barty, who is an Indigenous ambassador for Tennis Australia, has spent a week in the tropical north of her home state of Queensland, working with local Aboriginal youngsters.
“It’s all about giving an opportunity to Indigenous youth and providing pathways through tennis to show what our sport can do for our culture,” she said after visiting a Cairns school.
Indigenous Australians suffer disproportionately from many debilitating health issues such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, conditions where regular exercise can make a big difference.
“It’s really special to be able to give young kids, older kids, people of all ages that opportunity to grow and learn about how much sport has to offer in the way of connecting people.”
In August, Tennis Australia announced that they would be spending A$115,000 ($82,788.50) over the next three years to fund Indigenous tennis programs in Queensland.
“It’s a massive stepping stone, it’s a pathway for young kids to see an opportunity, not just in tennis, but in education, in experiences, in all of these different things,” Barty added. “Tennis brought joy and happiness to my life and to be able to experience that with kids all over the country is incredible.”
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donate $200k to Indigenous women’s leadership initiative
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have donated $200,000 to a leadership initiative for Indigenous women.
The couple gifted the impressive sum to St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute in Nova Scotia, Canada, for their new initiative, the Circle of Abundance, which hopes to amplify Indigenous women’s voices and leadership.
In a statement, the couple said: “We’re so happy to support the incredible work of the Coady Institute’s program with Indigenous Women. We’re blown away by the conversations we’ve had and the work they do and look forward to joining them on this journey.”
Coady Indigenous Program lead and graduate Karri-Lynn Paul added in a separate statement: “These Indigenous leaders inspire renewed energy on how to move forward with our work. Their insights and grounding of our work in the realities of grassroots Indigenous women’s lives is an important piece in our journey. This funding offers the opportunity to make that happen.”