Angelina Jolie is a name familiar to most people in the United States. An award-winning actress, director, screenwriter, and author, Jolie has been in the public limelight after her first Hollywood film, Hackers, was released in 1995. Her subsequent roles in George Wallace and Gia won her serious recognition in the acting world. Known for being just the opposite of a “Hollywood darling,” Jolie possesses a dark elegance reminiscent of her youth, when she struggled with depression and experimented with drugs.
While filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2001, Jolie for the first time encountered a war-torn country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. She stated that this experience opened her eyes to the world, and since then she has become known as one of the biggest philanthropists in Hollywood, visiting more than 30 countries on field missions.
John Prendergast is, in many ways, the model activist. He has dedicated the past thirty years to advocating for human rights abroad, and his efforts have allotted every organization he has worked with enormous amounts of support from passionate philanthropists. He is an author, human rights campaign leader, an advisor to prominent philanthropists, and a hands-on leader whose vast knowledge about violence in Africa has allotted him great success in his peace-oriented initiatives. In short, he has made an incredible difference.
One of the things that sets Prendergast apart from other activists on the front-lines of human injustice in Africa is the lasting relationships he forges with philanthropic people. The activist and author knows that change cannot be made through the efforts of one person, but that it takes a dedicated coalition of like-minded people to provide significant help to others in need. Throughout his career he has advised celebrities in their own humanitarian work, has sparked philanthropy aimed at worthy causes, and has even coauthored books with famous public figures in order to raise awareness about atrocities taking place abroad.
In recent interviews, acclaimed author James Patterson has announced that he will be donating $1 million to independent bookstores throughout the next year. Patterson’s desire to support independent booksellers stems from his aspiration to increase nationwide literacy, with a particular focus on getting children excited about reading. Increasing childhood literacy is something that personally resonates with the author, who spent years trying to get his young son to enjoy reading, knowing that it would impact the quality of his life as he grew older.
This isn’t the first time Patterson has supported literature-based organizations by donating funds out of his own pocket, and it certainly won’t be the last. According to Melanie Grayce West for the Washington Post, the author “is serious about getting kids to read and he’s made it a cornerstone of his philanthropy.” Patterson, who can now add children’s literature to his list of mastered genres, is a book-centric activist who wants others to recognize that the importance of literacy rivals other pressing issues that face children today.
In addition to his promise of donating $1 million to independent bookstores around the country, Patterson hopes to spark an entire campaign that will promote literacy for children. Over the years, the author has been active in this cause by starting academic scholarships and donating millions of dollars to programs that promote education and reading. This year alone Patterson has awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to students earning teaching degrees, the Washington Post reports. He also regularly funds book stipends, and hosts essay competitions that have awarded aspiring teachers and students thousands of dollars. The author pays for all of these programs out-of-pocket.
“For a lot of kids in this country, if they don’t become competent readers, they are going to find it impossible to get through high school,” Patterson has said. Donating funds to independent bookshops is his newest strategy to support and promote nationwide literacy. It’s philanthropists like Patterson who are helping to better the lives of children, which for the author, stems from encouraging a love of reading.
Bill Gates’ father has long been working for philanthropic causes from being the Co-Chair of the World Justice Project to sitting on the board of Planned Parenthood. He is also the author of a book entitled “Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime.”
Gates is a graduate of the University of Washington, and worked as a lawyer until 1998 at the law firm he co-founded. Shidler & King later became known as Preston Gates & Ellis LLP. It finally merged into what is now called K&L Gates.
Bill Gates Sr. guides the foundation and serves as an advocate for the foundation’s key issues. He first answered his son’s request for help in using his resources to improve reproductive and child health in the developing world by directing the William H. Gates Foundation, which was established in 1994. It merged with the Gates Learning Foundation to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
Gates has volunteered with organizations such as the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and King County United Way. He even formed a non-profit organization called Technology Alliance to further technology jobs in the northwest. In efforts to shape and assist education, he worked with the Public School Levy Campaign.
J.K. Rowling’s story is one filled with strife and struggle and ending with stunning success. She’s someone we look to for inspiration when it comes to overcoming hardships and proving that hard work really does pay off. She is best known for authoring the renowned Harry Potter series, which propelled her from poverty into fame and fortune. But that’s not why we’re profiling her.
You see, J.K. Rowling gained billionaire status from the Harry Potter franchise’s success. As of 2011, she was estimated to be worth about $1 billion, enough to put her on the Forbes list of richest people in the world. But last year she lost that status—and not because of mismanagement.
J.K. Rowling is no longer a billionaire—because she donated so much money to charity. In 2011, she gave away about 16% of her net worth, or $160 million dollars. Perhaps it’s the fact that Rowling knows exactly what it’s like to be poverty stricken—she lived off of welfare at one point—that makes her more likely to give her wealth away.
When she spoke at Harvard’s commencement in 2008, she addressed poverty, saying that it “is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardship.”