Oprah Winfrey’s charities always put her at the top of celebrity philanthropists, year after year. For starters, she gives much of her wealth towards higher learning such as scholarships to underserved achievers as well as school supplies to isolated villages in China.
She also created a pay-it-forward type charity that took off helping people worldwide, like her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Let’s take a closer look at how the “Queen of Media” became the Queen of all things good in this world.
Oprah’s Angel Network
The Oprah Winfrey Angel Network builds on its motto, ‘To work around the globe to give people the chance to live their best lives.”
In 1998, she created Oprah’s Angel Network. The organization was put in place to help charitable projects and provide grants to nonprofit organizations globally.
This all started with a plea to her viewers to donate their change, as well as their time. The initial ask raised US$3.5 million, which was given away in the form of 150, US$25,000 scholarships.
This simple asking of her fanbase also received 15,000 volunteers to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. That’s star power.
The network also helped build 60 schools in 13 countries and provided books and uniforms.
Because Oprah made it her mission to have 100% of all funds go straight to charity programs, she personally covered all administrative costs in order for this to operate.
If anyone knows how to pay it forward, it’s Oprah. The organization raised over US$80 million by 2010 before they stopped taking donations and eventually dissolved.
However, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Oprah created the Oprah Angel Network Katrina Registry. The relief efforts raised US$11 million and had homes built in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. It seems only Oprah can outdo herself.
Oprah Winfrey Scholarship
Another one of Oprah’s top charities that she gives is a scholarship funded by the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund. This fund has helped more than 250 students from 20 states and 7 countries to receive higher education at Morehouse College.
Oprah Winfrey’s history of giving in support of Morehouse students began in 1989 with a US$1 million contribution made during commencement exercises.
This established the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Each subsequent gift has been added to the corpus of the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Ms. Winfrey’s total gift stands at US$12 million. Her total contributions have set her apart as the College’s top individual donor to date.
The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation
The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation was initially created in 2007 to give money towards the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) in South Africa.
This is a private foundation that quietly allows Oprah to give her wealth away with a mission to assist the underserved in basic human needs. Program areas for the foundation include women, children, families, and education.
The foundation supports this free, residential school that’s home to approximately 450 academically talented girls in grades 7 through 12.
Learners come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and it is Oprah’s dream to see the Academy develop future women leaders of South Africa.
Oprah is one of the largest contributors to Free The Children, an organization dedicated to building schools for children in developing countries.
The organization implements development programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, focusing on education, water, health, food, and economic opportunity.
Free The Children initially fundraised for organizations that raided factories and freed children from forced labor situations.
When it became clear that the rescued children were being resold by their impoverished families, the organization changed its approach. Free The Children started then building schools which is now the main focus.
In 2012, Oprah donated US$12 million to the capital campaign of the then-new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History.
She previously donated $1 million in 2007, which brought her total gifts to $13 million. The philanthropic star has been on the museum’s advisory council since 2004.
Besides these organizations, Oprah has volunteered her time with other charities. Oprah gave 300 members of her audience $1000 each to donate to a charity of their choice. Winfrey helped design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction benefiting ovarian cancer awareness and research.
In December 1993, President Bill Clinton signed “Oprah’s Bill,” also known as the National Child Protection Act. Oprah’s Bill creates a national registry of convicted child abusers – this relates to Oprah’s personal history of having been abused as a child.
Keeping in step with giving her the recognization she deserves, she was later recognized by President Obama for her contributions with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor.