As Oprah’s wealth and influence have grown, her willingness to donate to various charitable causes has grown right along with it. This is not a new development, either. In 2004, she was named one of the 50 most generous Americans and she has certainly not slowed down since then.
Few give more than she does, as she has spent millions of dollars out of her own pocket for various charities and initiatives. Let’s take a closer look at some of her charitable works. She has three main charities and they have all done great work over the years:
The Angel Network
The Angel Network is perhaps her most well-known charitable venture and for good reason. Seasoned viewers of her talk show are sure to remember that she spent lots of time talking about this particular charity. She would dedicate multiple shows per year to the charitable deeds that the Angel Network was accomplishing.
When it first began, the Angel Network was focused on giving other people the chance to get involved. They could donate their funds, secure in the knowledge that 100 percent of them would go towards the funding of charitable projects. No money has been needed to run the organization because Oprah handles all of the overhead expenses and operational costs for the Angel Network on her own.
Like many charities, it began as a smaller initiative. Oprah first started the Angel Network back in 1997. Her goal was a simple one: she wanted her audience members to be able to become more involved. The charity was established to help people get the most out of their donations and learn more about opportunities to volunteer.
The millions of dollars that she was able to collect from her audience were caused for a wide range of great causes. She provided grants to all of her organizations that work on charitable initiatives. She had a number of goals that she wanted to accomplish and this charity made it easier for her to do so.
Providing Affordable Education
Oprah wanted to provide education to those who were not able to afford it under typical circumstances. In order to restore order to impoverished communities, she looked to establish leaders that are able to point them in the right direction. The protection of human rights and the process of creating support communities were also very important to her.
These lofty goals, when combined with the funds that she was able to raise, allowed this particular arm of her charitable network to reach far and wide. She did not focus her efforts solely on the United States, as she looked to foreign countries to see where she could help as well. For example, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School for Girls was one of her most important projects, as she looked to provide further education for girls all around the world.
In 2010, the organization was dissolved as soon as all of the funds had been spent but this did not stop her from continuing down her charitable path. From there, a new organization would become the epicenter of her charitable works.
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which is run exclusively by Oprah herself, exists to provide the necessary grants for non-profit organizations. The money that is sourced for these grants does not come from her former audience members or even her wealthy friends. Oprah provides all of the money that is needed on her own, without any form of outside interference.
She uses her money so that she is able to easily fund projects that are of great interest to her. Learning, leadership development and the educational field are her primary areas of assistance. There are zero donations and no one is even allowed to fill out a grant application.
Oprah herself goes through all of the charities that are being considered on her own. The final decisions come directly from her and there is no chance for anyone to influence the process. Special endowments are then made through her own private foundation. Over the years, she has provided millions in grants for a number of non-profit organizations.
$190 million of Oprah’s personal wealth has been set aside for this exact purpose. This is where all of the assets and funding for the Oprah Winfrey Foundation have been sourced from.
The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation
This foundation was established by Oprah, so that funding could continue to be provided for her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The school got its start back in 2007 and Oprah has worked tirelessly to ensure that it will continue to remain viable. This organization does accept donations from those who are not nearly as wealthy as Oprah, though.
A website has been established, where donations are readily accepted. The foundation’s funding is used to provide money for any special projects that the Academy needs to carry out. If any building improvements or repairs are needed, the money for these projects is sourced from this foundation specifically.
That’s Not All
Whenever hard times arise, Oprah always seems to be there. The terms Oprah Winfrey charity have become synonymous for this reason. For example, she even stepped up to the plate once the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into absolute chaos. She knew that she had to use her wealth to assist others in need during this moment of widespread desperation.
Oprah is said to have pledged $10 million to those who were in need. She provided America’s Food Fund with a $1 million donation and also spent heavily to assist Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano, Texas and the Boys and Girls Club in Kosciusko, Miss, although those amounts remain undisclosed.
Pathways to College is another organization that she is closely involved with, as she continues her initiative to provide as many children with the chance to continue their education as possible. Three years ago, she pledged $5 million to the organization and that was not the only donation that she provided.
The following year, she pledged to match any and all donations that the organization received once Giving Tuesday rolled around. Pathways to College is a non-profit program that has since been able to provide thousands of children across the country with the chance to further their education.
Oprah Winfrey Scholar’s program
To build on those efforts, she has established an Oprah Winfrey Scholar’s program at Morehouse College. In 1989, she donated $12 million to the college when the program first began. When she returned for the 30th anniversary of this special occasion, she did them one better, providing another $13 million. Her $25 million endowment is the largest in the history of Morehouse.
Last but certainly not least, Oprah was also one of the first to help when Hurricane Maria left the nation of Puerto Rico in disarray. In order to provide the necessary assistance with Puerto Rico’s revitalization efforts, Hispanic Federation and the Flamboyant Arts Fund were each provided with a $1 million donation from Oprah herself.
She and her best friend Gayle King also flew to the country, so that they could stage a production of Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda collaborated with Oprah and Gayle, putting on a series of performances at no added cost to the residents.
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Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith