Robin Hood Foundation Gala Raises Over $80M

jessica biel robin hood gala
IMG: Helga Esteb via Shutterstock

On Monday, May 13th, the Robin Hood Foundation hosted a gala to raise money to help fight poverty in New York City. Over the course of the evening, the foundation raised over $80 million. The event was chock-full of celebrities, business leaders, and other well-known faces, many of them donating significant amounts of money to the cause.

Mary J. Blige, Bono, Elton John, and Brian Williams were among the entertainment for the night, as were comedians Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld. Newlyweds Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel also attended the event, stopping to chat with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Paul Simon and Sting performed together on stage.

In 2011 the event raised about $47 million. In 2012, that number was beat by an impressive haul of $59 million. This year’s $80 million knocks both those numbers out of the water. The event was co-chaired by Timberlake and Biel, as well as by Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife Sonia; Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee; and Leslie Moonves and his wife Julie Chen.

This event certainly isn’t the first time the Robin Hood Foundation has brought in big names, though. Last December, the foundation put on a benefit concert entitled “12-12-12,” with proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones performed at the concert.

Funds raised and distributed by the Robin Hood Foundation have been used to install libraries at public schools in NYC, feed homeless and hungry New Yorkers, provide for victims of 9/11, and support victims of Superstorm Sandy—to name a few.

Read our profile of Henry Kravis here.

Organizations Resources

Prom Goes On for Sandy Victims

IMG: via

For victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York City and much of the east coast in October 2012, saving up money for a prom dress is likely an unrealistic goal. Many families had their homes and lives shattered when the brutal storm hit, leaving them with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. Homes and possessions were not among those spared, and rebuilding from the ground up has made life hard for many.

But for teenagers trying to move forward, prom isn’t something that is likely to be forgotten. Though they may be struggling through a personal hardship at home, that doesn’t take away the fact that for many, attending prom is a rite of passage. Girls who are juniors or seniors may have dreamed for the past few years about getting the perfect dress and having the time of their lives before they head off to college or work. But for the tens of thousands of families who are just trying to get their lives back together, being able to afford a prom dress isn’t likely to be something they can do.

That’s what the nonprofit group Where to Turn has decided to do something about. The group collected over a thousand prom dresses this year—and they plan to pass them all out to teens who had homes and cars destroyed during the storm. The dresses were collected not just from generous givers (individuals and businesses) in the New York area, but were also sent in from around the country.

And now that prom season is here, the group has started getting the dresses to those who need them. They held a free dress expo on Saturday, April 6th at a Staten Island high school. About 125 teenagers came to the event, perusing the gowns and choosing one to take home. There were also about 250 pairs of donated shoes and $5,000 in donated hair items from Conair. The dresses (all 1,000) had all been dry cleaned for free by a Staten Island dry cleaning company.

“Right now, people are rebuilding and they don’t have enough money to take care of the normal day-to-day things… things that, you know, kids really shouldn’t miss out on,” said Dennis McKeon, who is the Executive Director at Where to Turn. With hundreds more dresses to give away, McKeon says the group is working on organizing other free dress expos in hard hit areas like Queens and the Rockaways.


Buddhist Organization Donates $10m

Tzu Chi Logo
IMG: Twitter/@tzuchicanada

Natural disasters are things that tend to bring out the very best and worst in people. For the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, alongside some other religious groups, it was a chance to let their colors shine and bestow some major goodwill on NYC.

Tzu Chi has managed to raise $10 million, and they plan to give it all to victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York City. Individual donations from around the world are what make it possible for Tzu Chi to hand out $600 to qualifying families in the form of a Visa debit card.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi have been combing the hardest hit areas of the city, seeking out eligible families that are in need. They also have a hotline available (877-889-8277), which storm victims can call to find out if they qualify.

The foundation has already handed out cash cards to close to 2,000 families in six districts around NYC. 400 volunteers were sent to Lindenhurst, Hamilton, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, South Toms River, and Atlantic City to distribute the cards on November 11th. Victims of the storm were “extremely moved by this generosity,” according to an article on the Tzu Chi website.

Volunteers also distributed blankets and bags of necessities to the families, some of whom were “moved to tears, saying that it was like an infusion of blood that would save their life.” Many of the now victims have said they will become donors to the cause once they are back on their feet, so they can keep the goodwill going and help others as they have been helped.

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in the U.S. was founded in 1984. Since then, they have expanded and grown to have over 80 offices across the country. There are more than 100,000 volunteers actively working within the organization to provide support and make a difference to their communities. They were the first organization to provide cash relief to families affected by 9/11, gave over 4.2 million in donations to victims of Katrina, and helped nearly 50,000 families after Haiti’s major earthquake in 2010.