A Force for Good in the Fight Against Hunger: The Weeknd’s XO Humanitarian Fund

The Weeknd XO Humanitarian Fund © Brian Ziff

By Raye Mocioiu

Known for his air of mystery, Canadian superstar The Weeknd seems to prefer actions over words, supporting important causes through sizable donations.

While the character of The Weeknd is known for music that evokes dark themes and feelings, the man behind the music, Abel Tesfaye, is known for sharing generously and making significant contributions to causes that are dear to his heart and history. One needs only to look at his partnership with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to find proof.

In 2022, the combination of drought and climate shocks in southern Ethiopia and violent conflict in the north drove millions of families into devastating levels of severe hunger. WFP warns that millions are at risk of starvation due to a lack of rain, with hunger and malnutrition rates in Ethiopia well above emergency thresholds.

Early last year, Tesfaye partnered with WFP to launch the XO Humanitarian Fund. The new Fund supported the organization’s response to the unprecedented hunger crisis, which threatened to unleash starvation, destabilization, and mass migration worldwide.

“The goal with this fund is to provide immediate life-saving support to people who are on the brink of starvation,” the star shared in a statement. “I’m so thankful to have WFP as a partner and to further expand our reach to those who need it most.”

Tesfaye announced last November that since the launch of the XO Humanitarian Fund in March 2022, $5 million has been raised and pledged to provide food and support to millions of people experiencing hunger across the globe.

“The U.N. World Food Programme is doing urgent and important work to change and save lives on a daily basis and I feel passionately about addressing world hunger and helping people in need. Our partnership is an authentic extension of all our efforts and intentions to help those in need and bring an end to so much suffering,” said Tesfaye.

the weeknd xo humanitarian fund gaza
World Food Programme WFP.org The Dawn of a New Era for The (L-R) U.N. WFP Executive Director David Beasley, The Weeknd, and WFP USA CEO Barron Segar © Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for U.N. World Food Programme Weeknd

Kicking off his partnership with WFP in 2021, Tesfaye announced a $1 million donation for hunger relief in his parents’ native Ethiopia through the World Food Program USA, the U.S. affiliate of WFP.

The significant donation, which equated to two million meals, provided life-saving food to those affected by conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray Region and supported WFP’s efforts to ramp up emergency food assistance response.

This year, The Weeknd made an additional $500,000 personal gift to the Fund. He also contributed $1 to the Fund from each ticket sold from his North American Stadium Tour, as well as proceeds of an exclusive XO Humanitarian Fund t-shirt.

Funds raised will support a variety of WFP activities, with a first tranche of $2 million going to emergency food assistance and the nutritional support of malnourished children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers in northern Ethiopia, reaching more than 75,000 people across the country’s most food-insecure regions.

“On stage and off stage, The Weeknd is bringing hope and happiness to millions of people across the globe,” said David Beasley, WFP executive director. “His inspirational XO Humanitarian Fund is a new dawn in the struggle to end global hunger at a time when we are seeing funding shrink and the threat of famine grow. As WFP’s Global Goodwill Ambassador, he is opening hearts and minds
to our life-saving cause and offering millions the chance of a brighter tomorrow.”

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