JJ Watt Provides One-Year Update on Hurricane Harvey Fundraiser

On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey blew through Houston and the surrounding areas to become the most costly hurricane in American history, both in lives and livelihoods. It killed 88 people and caused nearly $200 billion worth of property and economic damage.

In the aftermath, J.J. Watt, a player on the Houston Texans team, saw the intense need in his adopted hometown immediately. By September 1, 2017, he had put up a fundraiser on the site Youcaring (now absorbed by GoFundMe) with an initial goal of $200,000 dollars.

“Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on our great city, while leaving many stranded and in need of assistance. We must come together and collectively help rebuild the aspects of our community members lives that were damaged or lost. Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. We will come out of this stronger than ever. We are Texans,” wrote Watt in the fundraiser’s initial pitch, which was accompanied by a video of the athlete making a heartfelt plea.

Within three weeks, more than 200,000 individual donors had amassed a donation of over $37 million.

On August 27, 2018, one year after Harvey, Watt, who had promised transparency to his donors, posted an update detailing the reach of the donated funds. Managed by Watt’s charity foundation, the Justin J. Watt Foundation, the money grew over the next year to more than $4.1 million, and was put to use rebuilding more than 600 homes and supporting Houston Food Bank and Feeding America, who together served over 26 million meals to those displaced and put in need by the hurricane. It also supported the rebuilding of 420 childcare centers to serve over 16,000 children, and got medicine to more than 10,000 patients in need.

The fund is not exhausted, either. The Foundation intends to continue building homes and assisting Houstonians with medical and food needs as long as they can, alongside nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club.

Organizations Profiles

Michigan Teens Take Action

michigan community foundation
IMG: via

In the late 1990’s, the Kellogg Foundation issued a challenge in Michigan called the Michigan Community Youth Foundations Project.  The foundation would match 50% of funds raised by young people in order to create an endowment fund for community projects.  Today, the fund created by teens is worth $40 million altogether and awards up to $2.5 million annually.  The fund is managed by 86 groups around the Michigan known as Youth Action Committees.  The groups are comprised of young volunteers that learn how to write grants, engage a volunteer base and manage financial assets for non-profits.  Many teens say that their biggest takeaway from participating is learning that one person can make a difference in their community.  Several of them go on to pursue degrees in social work.

The Kellogg foundation believes that by investing in youth over an eighteen year period, it will help form a new generation of passionate citizens that will continue the charitable efforts for several generations after the initial funding period has ended.  As these children progress through adulthood, they will be more involved in their respective communities and contribute to the well-being of others throughout their lives.  Using fund matching is a way to engage volunteers and motivate them to participate in all aspects of the charity.

The project also sponsors leadership conferences and internships for participants and awards standout achievements.  Last year, one active group awarded over $40,000 in grants to nonprofits and schools in the local community.  Children as young as seven also participated by writing grants on projects with subjects that ranged from environmental conservation to anti-bullying.

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Hilarity for Charity Raises $400,000

seth rogen hilarity for charity
Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller at Hilarity for Charity 2013
IMG: Helga Esteb /

On Thursday, April 25th, Seth Rogen and the Backstreet Boys joined forces to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The “Hilarity for Charity” event featured the famed boy band, made up of members Nick Carter, A.J. McLean, Brian Littrel, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson.

Rogen joined in for the performance of 1996 hit song “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” True to form, the song was choreographed with dance moves—which Rogen performed quite well. And he was happy to do so for such a worthwhile cause.

“In the ‘70s, things like cancer were very taboo to talk about,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “Now it is on the forefront of things that are getting charitable attention. Bringing Alzheimer’s into the limelight is what we’re trying to do.”

Thursday’s event went a long way in doing that; it was jam-packed with well-known Hollywood faces Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Hart, Ken Marino, Bo Burnham, and many more. With its tagline being “Alzheimer’s sucks, this variety show won’t,” the event aimed to raise both money and awareness among the younger generations.

“There’s a thief out there,” Rogen’s Crowdrise fundraiser page for Hilarity for Charity reads. “And it’s robbing people’s memories. It’s robbing their ability to talk. It’s robbing their ability to eat, walk, get dressed, shower, or recognize their loved ones. It’s robbing people of their ability to be humans. It’s called Alzheimer’s, and it’s a real mother f@#ker and we’ve got to do something about it. And we’ve got to do something now.”

Rogen attended with his wife, Lauren Miller. Through Crowdrise, he raised over $33,000 on his own. The money will be donated through the Alzheimer’s Association to families struggling with Alzheimer’s related problems and to researching a way to prevent, cure or slow its progression.

Organizations Profiles

Mayor Bloomberg Performs Final Inner Circle Charity Dinner

Inner Circle Charity Dinner
IMG: James Keivom/New York Daily News

On Saturday, March 23rd, Mayor Michael Bloomberg performed his final rebuttal during the annual Inner Circle charity dinner. The show, which began in 1923, is a yearly roast of City Hall journalists and politicians put on by 100 of the top New York reporters (retired and active). It began as a five-act musical parody, and though these day’s it’s down to two acts, it’s still just as wild.

In a 2005 article, Shelly Strickler described it as “an elaborate musical parody written, produced and performed by members of the media—otherwise serious characters who get to let their hair down just once each year… It is a major charity event and a must-see production for New York’s political players.”

At the end of every show, the Hizzoner—an irreverent translation of the title “His Honor,” given to mayors of large cities and NYC in particular—has his/her say, too, though. The mayor appears, generally in an outlandish costume, and gives a “self-deprecating rebuttal.”

This year was Mayor Bloomberg’s twelfth and final performance in his three-term run as Mayor of New York City. He appeared on stage with four separate Broadway show casts: “Rock of Ages,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Annie,” and “Phantom of the Opera.” For the show, Bloomberg put aside his suit and tie in favor of various costumes that included jeans, sneakers, a blue zip-up hoodie, an embellished leather jacket, and an electric guitar.

The charity dinner raises money for over one hundred New York City-based charities. This year’s show was titled “Last Gulp” and featured the character Mayor Mike, who time travels through history to meet important figures looking for the right successor for him. Check out some pictures from the NY Daily News here!