Wyclef Makes Top Ten of Black Celebrity Philanthropists

  • Posted on: 18 December 2007
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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I recently came across a very interesting blog called "Black Gives Back", which focused on the activities of black philanthropists and black philanthropic organizations. It is well-designed and prominently features Wyclef Jean.


The website lists the foundations of the elder statesmen of black philantrophy such as Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, and Oprah, as well as those of musicians who I was not aware had founded philanthropic organizations - Common, Kanye West, Beyonce, Ludacris, and Jay Z.   Many of the websites are very well done and there is a wide range of activities represented, although education, New Orleans reconstruction, and the performing arts seem to be the most popular.


You are likely asking yourself, as I did, about the many black philanthropists who are not celebrities.  The website also lists a  number of black foundations and philanthropic including the National Center for Black Philanthropy.  There is also a blog roll with which to connect to other groups writing involved in similar issues.


Wyclef came in fourth for America's top black philanthropists.  As he notes, his responsibilities have grown beyond music, though music is a common thread throughout everything he does.   Haiti has two official languages - French and Kreyol. Unofficially, the third is music.  And Wyclef knows how to use it bring people together.


Admittedly, Wycelf's early ventures into the world of philanthropy were false starts, but he has come a very long way and now shows no signs of slowing down.   As a fund-raiser, advocate, and hip hop diplomat, he is going strong.


Concerning advocacy, he has engaged both American and Haitian policy makers on the issues he cares about, ranging from trade to HIV.   Many Haitians were upset (as were we) about the flawed HIV reserach which again suggested that Haiti was the conduit for the virus into America - his was not the only voice on the issue, but he was undoubtedly able to elevate coverage within the mass media.


During the flood in Gonaives, he took a UN helicopter into the city to see what was happening himself.  He later was able to press other celebrities into donating funds for recovery operations.  Through his efforts, other celebrity philanthropists such as Brad Piit and Angelina Jolie have also visited Haiti.


When Cite Solei was still volatile, he was involved in reconciliation effort.  Just recently, he has been visiting Haitian prisons and advocating for improved living conditions, arguing that prisoners should have access to education - so that when they leave, they will have a future and not need to turn to crime again.  Prisons are not considered a "sexy" philanthropic issue, but he saw a need, spoke out, and backed it up with resources. Good for him.


Take a look at Black Gives Back.  Then check out Wyclef's foundation, Yele which has just been redesigned.  His personal site can be viewed here.  


We look forward to hearing your thoughts on Wyclef's work in Haiti as well as the work of the broader black philanthropic community.


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