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Steven Spielberg Honors George Lucas And Mellody Hobson With 2016 Ambassador For Humanity Award

Dec 12, 2016 12:30 pm
Steven Spielberg, founder of USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, presented Mellody Hobson and George Lucas with the Institute’s 2016 Ambassador for Humanity Award at the organization’s annual gala last week.

Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Mellody Hobson, George Lucas
Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Mellody Hobson, George Lucas

Actor Harrison Ford was one of the evening’s special guests. The gala presenting sponsor was The Walt Disney Company, a dedicated supporter of the organization.

Mellody and George were honored for their steadfast commitment to dynamic and innovative humanitarian efforts, and their longtime support of USC Shoah Foundation.

Hobson is the president of Ariel Investments. Lucas is one of the world’s most distinguished filmmakers.

“Mellody and George are worthy recipients who understand the importance of vigilance and education in countering hatred around the world,” Spielberg said. “We are pleased to recognize them for their remarkable commitment to education and diversity, to visual arts and storytelling and to leveraging technology for humanitarian efforts.”

Lucas is a graduate of USC, and both he and Hobson are esteemed leaders and supporters of the university and its diverse community.

“Mellody Hobson and George Lucas not only share this university’s passion for education, research, inclusion and diversity, but they also understand the value and importance of preserving and sharing the 54,000 testimonies in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “As recipients of the Ambassador for Humanity Award, they join an inspiring group of past honorees whose collective dedication ensures that we keep the flame of memory alive by educating and enlightening future generations.”

The Ambassadors for Humanity event is a crucial part of the Institute’s efforts helping to forge partnerships that sustain the organization into the future. The gala raises much-needed general funds to support its educational programs including expansion of the Institute’s award-winning IWitness website, professional development for educators globally, the Center for Advanced Genocide Research, academic conferences, expanding access to the Visual History Archive and testimony preservation, to name a few.

“As we see the continuing rise of hatred and racism, the work of the Institute is as important as ever,” said Executive Director Stephen Smith. “We are pleased to honor Mellody and George who embody the Institute’s mission and goals, and have an opportunity to join forces to bring attention and awareness to our mutual educational efforts.”


Luke Evans Travels To India To Support Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day

Dec 12, 2016 11:30 am
Save the Children and Bulgari Ambassador Luke Evans travelled to India, which has the largest population of people living in poverty in the world, to visit two of the charity’s vital education programmes supporting vulnerable and marginalised children.

Luke Evans visited one of the most vulnerable slum communities in Mumbai which surrounds the Deonar land-fill site
Luke Evans visited one of the most vulnerable slum communities in Mumbai which surrounds the Deonar land-fill site
Credit/Copyright: Souvid Datta

The visit allowed him to see first-hand how the money raised by fundraising campaigns like Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day and partners like Bulgari can help support children living in India who are missing out on a basic education.

Almost 18 million children in India do not receive an education – the highest number of any country in the world. Most children drop out of school because they need to earn money for their family so they are forced into child labour or because they have to stay at home to care for their younger siblings. Often even those who are fortunate enough to be enrolled in school cannot read or write properly by the age of 10 as the quality of schooling is poor. Without an education, many children will be trapped in poverty for the rest of their lives, unable to fulfil their potential and with little chance of a successful future.

Luke visited one of the most vulnerable slum communities in Mumbai which surrounds the Deonar land-fill site – the biggest dumping ground in Asia where the mountains of rubbish reach twenty meters deep. Many parents of the children living in these slums work on the garbage dump, sorting and selling rubbish and very few children have the opportunity to go to school. To support these vulnerable children, Save the Children has established a Mobile Learning Centre – a bus which has been transformed into a classroom. This bus is taken into these communities to give children the opportunity to access an education and to ensure that any child who has fallen behind in their education is given the chance to get back up to speed so they can return to school at the appropriate level for their age.

Luke also visited a Save the Children education programme in Pune which has been developed in partnership with Bulgari – one of the charity’s global partners. As a Bulgari Ambassador, Luke was keen to see the impact their funding has had. Thanks to Bulgari, Save the Children has been able to reach almost 155,000 children across 245 schools – ensuring they receive a quality education and have the best start in life.

Commenting on his visit to India, Luke, whose Hollywood blockbusters include The Hobbit, The Girl on the Train and the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast, said: “It’s wrong that there are children growing up today who will never read a book, never write a letter or do basic maths. I visited one of the most deprived slum communities in Mumbai, where many children don’t get the chance to go to school. It was heart-breaking to see the terrible conditions that these children live in – the extreme levels of poverty in India have been totally shocking to me.”

Among the children Luke met was Raja*, who is 14 years old. When Raja moved to Mumbai three years ago aged 11, he was forced to work in a local garment factory to supplement his family income. He had to work very long hours so was unable to attend school. Save the Children intervened and persuaded Raja’s parents to send him to school and thanks to the Mobile Learning Centre, he was able to catch up on his education. Raja now attends school regularly and dreams of becoming a scientist.

Luke continued: “Seeing the impact that Save the Children’s programmes are having on the lives of these children is incredible. To see the smiles on their faces when they read and write and know that they’ll have a better life as a result is amazing. I’m so proud to be an Ambassador for Save the Children and Bulgari – their partnership is making such a big difference to these children’s lives.

“My visit to India will stay with me forever and I urge you to join me in supporting Save the Children this Christmas. All you have to do is wear a Christmas Jumper on Friday 16th December and donate £2 – you’ll be helping to make a massive difference to the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.”

Luke Evans is encouraging the UK public to sign up and donate to Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day to ensure the charity can continue doing whatever it takes to make sure the world’s forgotten children have a brighter future.


Jennifer Hudson Honored At March Of Dimes Celebration Of Babies: A Hollywood Luncheon

Dec 12, 2016 10:15 am
Last week, March Of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health, raised $1.4 million at the sixth annual March of Dimes Celebration of Babies: A Hollywood Luncheon, which took at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.

Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Rowland attend the 2016 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies: A Hollywood Luncheon in LA
Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Rowland attend the 2016 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies: A Hollywood Luncheon in LA

The 2016 honorees included Grammy Award-winning singer and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group Jody Gerson and Mary Kerr, M.D. for their various contributions to the cause. Celebration of Babies is co-chaired by Jimmy Horowitz, President of Universal Pictures, and his wife Joi, along with producer Wyck Godfrey.

March of Dimes Celebration of Babies brought together celebrities and prominent individuals in the entertainment community who care about the health of moms and babies. For the first time in eight years, the rate of premature birth in the U.S. has increased, driven by worsening rates among specific racial and ethnic groups as well as geographic areas, across the country. The preterm birth rate among Black women is 48% higher than all other women. In addition to the unfair toll on mothers and babies, preterm birth accounts for more than $26 billion annually in avoidable medical and societal costs in the United States. Prematurity affects 15,000,000 babies each year globally and nearly one million of them die before their first birthday. March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, with a mission to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Grammy and Academy-Award winner Jennifer Hudson received the 2016 March of Dimes Grace Kelly Award, which recognized her commitment to help families and give all babies the healthiest start in life. From humble beginnings, Hudson rocketed to worldwide acclaim with her acting and music recording career. Her memorable roles have garnered her numerous honors and awards over the years, including Academy, Grammy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Awards. Hudson has also made a global impact through her extensive philanthropic work, championing children, women’s issues and poverty around the world.

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it has taught me about premature birth,” said Hudson. “It’s so easy to overlook what others are going through…what better way to invest in the future than in babies.”

Jody Gerson, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group, was honored by March of Dimes as the 2016 Inspiring Woman of the Year for her accomplishments as a leader in the entertainment industry and as a dedicated mother.

Dr. Mary Kerr, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, was honored with the 2016 March of Dimes Prematurity Champion Award, for her dedication and special interest in caring for patients with high-risk pregnancies. She has been honored as one of the top Obstetrician and Gynecologists in America and is a faculty member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Los Angeles Obstetrics and Gynecology Society, the American Women’s Medical Society and the American Medical Association. Dr. Kerr is also a national honoree for United Cerebral Palsy for her work with embryonic stem cell collection and Special Needs Network LA, which provides needs for low-income families of children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

President of Universal Pictures Jimmy Horowitz and producer Wyck Godfrey served as Celebration of Babies event chairs, alongside their wives.

Nick Cannon returned as master of ceremonies for the exclusive luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Event co-chairs included: Shelli and Irving Azoff, Catherine and Marty Bowen, Kate and Paul Brooks, Sir Lucian Grainge and Lady Caroline Grainge, Paula Kaplan and Billy Goldberg, Lisa Kasteler, Chris Meledandri, Graehme Morphy, Ronald O. Perelman and Dr. Anna Chapman, Daniel Seah, Damien Smith, and Molly Sims and Scott Stuber.

Host committee members included: Michele Anthony, Steve Barnett, Steve Berman, Lauren and Jason Blum, Liza Chasin and Matthew Velkes, Marc Cimino, Jeff Frasco, Alex and Brad Fuller, Risa Gertner, Jeff Harleston, LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson, John Janick, John Josephson, Michelle Jubelirer, Alicia Keys, Ashley and David Kramer, David Lande, Avery Lipman, Monte Lipman, Richard Lovett, Elizabeth Matthews, Boyd Muir, Deborah Newmyer, Mike O’Neill, Gavin Polone, Terry Press, Anna Rawson and Ted Chervin, Kelly Rowland and Tim Witherspoon, Jackie and Adam Sandler, Erika Rose Santoro, Will Tanous, Talin and Scott Tenley, and Carrie and Bill Zotti.

Past honorees include 2015 Grace Kelly Award recipient Jessica Alba; and 2015 Inspiring Woman of the Year Bela Bajaria, President of Universal Television. New in 2015 March of Dimes Prematurity Champion Award Michele Hakakha, M.D.; 2014 Grace Kelly Award recipient Elizabeth Banks; 2014 Inspiring Woman of the Year Elizabeth Gabler, President FOX 2000; 2013 Grace Kelly Award recipient Jennifer Lopez; 2013 Inspiring Woman of the Year, Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO, A+E Networks; 2012 Grace Kelly Award recipient Reese Witherspoon; 2012 Inspiring Woman of the Year Cyma Zarghami, President of Nickelodeon Group; 2011 Grace Kelly Award recipient Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures; and Stork Club Ambassador Molly Sims.

Since the inaugural event in 2011, Celebration of Babies has helped raise awareness of March of Dimes and the preterm birth health crisis while raising over $7,000,000 to help give every baby a fighting chance.


Ed Helms Honored At Benefit For Music In Schools

Dec 12, 2016 09:00 am
Last weekend, Education Through Music-Los Angeles honored Actor and Musician Ed Helms and Veteran Music Teacher Richard Meyer with their prestigious Shining Star award, at their 11th Annual Benefit Gala which took place at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Ed Helms and Teacher Richard Meyer pose with Host Andy Richter and students on the red carpet at Education Through Music-Los Angeles' 11th Annual Benefit
Ed Helms and Teacher Richard Meyer pose with Host Andy Richter and students on the red carpet at Education Through Music-Los Angeles’ 11th Annual Benefit

Each year, the Shining Stars are awarded to individuals whose contributions through music have changed lives. “Through music, our honorees inspire our youth to achieve their highest potential and improve the lives of others,” said ETM-LA Executive Director, Victoria Lanier.

The evening was hosted by actor and late night talk show announcer Andy Richter (Conan), and included performances by Moby, Ed Helms, Lisa Loeb, and Dustbowl Revival. Angela Kinsey and Christina Applegate, who both played Helms’ love interests on prior projects (The Office and Vacation, respectively) were on hand to present Helms his award. Both revealed Helms’ love of music, providing stories of him sharing his passion for banjo, singing, and bluegrass with his castmates on and off set.

Helms sits on the Advisory Board for Education Through Music-Los Angeles and is a long-time champion for the cause. “The gap in education opportunities in different communities is one of the great social injustices, and Education Through Music-LA plugs right into that in a very smart and critical way,” said Helms. “Music has impact. And ETM-LA is a force-multiplier for that impact. [They] put teachers back in the schools, provide a curriculum, [and] provide resources.”

Having taught over 35 years, Veteran Music Teacher Richard Meyer described the impact that music has had, stating that “music is the most important thing to me, and to be able to pass that onto students and make it one of the most important things to them is very meaningful to me. Music is a tool to develop students; it’s a wonderful way to draw students out and to help them express themselves.”

Approximately 80 young students from ETM-LA Partner Schools Castelar Elementary, Dorris Place Elementary, Hooper Elementary, Rio Vista Elementary, and Providencia Elementary performed and helped ring in the holidays with upbeat music including Meyer’s “Bach Country Fiddles” which Meyer conducted, and “Winter Wonderland” featuring Helms.

Academy Award-Winning Composer and ETM-LA Advisory Board Member Michael Giacchino (Disney-Pixar’s Up) led the live auction and surprised the audience with a chance to attend a screening of the upcoming film he scored, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with musicians from his recording orchestra, as well as a handwritten score page of the main theme.

Now in its 11th year, Lanier shared that ETM-LA has grown from serving 2 schools and 800 children its first year, to 25 schools and nearly 12,000 students. In the next few years, ETM-LA hopes to double the number of partner schools receiving sequential, comprehensive music instruction – from 25 to 50 schools. ETM-LA believes every child deserves a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts.

Other notables in attendance included actresses Karen David and Kate Flannery, composers Christophe Beck, John Debney, Joseph Trapanese, Jim Dooley, Rob Duncan, Blake Neely, Austin Wintory, Danny Jacob, Dave Porter, and David Vanacore. The event chairs were Lola Debney and Alecia Spendlove.

Honorary Chairs included music education champions and celebrities such as Adam Levine, Amanda Seyfried, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chris Meledandri, Rickey Minor, and Sarah Silverman. Major event sponsors included: Amazon Studios, ASCAP, The Bluegrass Situation, BMI, BTW Productions, The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc., Illumination Entertainment, MTV, Pacific Electric Picture Co., Paramount Pictures, Principato-Young Entertainment, Schrek Rose Dapello & Adams LLP, Sonic Fuel Studios, and United Talent Agency.

Education Through Music-LA is an independent 501c3 non-profit with the mission to provide music in disadvantaged schools to enhance students’ academic achievement and creative and overall development. ETM-LA partners with inner-city schools to provide yearlong music instruction and is based on the ETM model (New York, 1991).


Nia Long Named Nothing But Nets Champion To Fight Malaria

Dec 12, 2016 07:45 am

Nia Long: Profile

The United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign announced actress Nia Long and San Antonio Spur’s assistant coach Ime Udoka as new champions in the fight against malaria.

In their first activity as Nothing But Nets champions, Long and Udoka are asking fans and family to help protect children and refugees from the disease by donating to the campaign. You can make a difference and save a life by donating $10 to purchase a net for a child and family in need.

“Ime and I wanted to find an organization that spoke to us on a personal level; we both have family members who have been affected by malaria and we are dedicated to giving back to those in need,” Long said. “It is inconceivable that children are still dying from a disease which is completely preventable and treatable. We are proud to partner with the Nothing But Nets campaign to help raise awareness. A simple bed net can make all the difference for a child and family to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.”

Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria. Nothing But Nets works closely with its UN partners across sub-Saharan Africa, to ensure vulnerable populations, including children, refugees, and families displaced by conflict, are protected from the disease.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nia and Ime into the ranks of Nothing But Nets champions working across the country and around the world to raise awareness, funds, and voices to protect families from malaria,” said Margaret Reilly McDonnell, Director of Nothing But Nets. “We’re committed to working towards the day when no child dies from a mosquito bite.”

Today, there are more than 65 million refugees and families displaced by violence around the world – and 60 percent of them live in areas where malaria is transmitted. Malaria is a major threat to refugees – it is a leading cause of illness and death in many African countries, including those where Nothing But Nets and its UN partners work. Last year, the campaign launched The Million Nets Pledge to protect refugee families from malaria with one million nets by 2016. This ambitious two-year goal aims to raise $10 million to protect vulnerable people fleeing violence, particularly in Central Africa.

Now in its tenth year, the Nothing But Nets campaign boasts hundreds of thousands of supporters – from students to athletes to entertainers – who all help to protect families from the threat of malaria.

Fans can join Long and Udoka in saving lives with Nothing But Nets by visiting NothingButNets.net/NiaLong.


Pitbull to Speak at Palm Beach State College’s STEAM Fundraiser

Dec 12, 2016 06:30 am

Pitbull: Profile

The Palm Beach State College Foundation is proud to announce that Armando Christian Perez, professionally known as Pitbull, will be the keynote speaker for the Foundation’s 2017 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) luncheon presented by Bank of America.

The event will take place February 1, 2017 at 11:30am at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ Cohen Pavilion, West Palm Beach.

“Everyone knows Pitbull is one of the most successful recording artists of our time, but what many don’t realize is that he is also a leading tech innovator and arts education proponent,” said event chair and nationally honored arts advocate, Yvonne Boice. “We are thrilled that he will be our speaker this year and that he will be sharing his inspiring success story that now melds so many aspects of the STEAM disciplines.”

A first generation Cuban American, the young Perez was inspired by one of his high school teachers to pursue his musical dreams. Now, he wants to make sure other children are inspired and have that same opportunity to succeed.

In 2013, Pitbull helped create the SLAM! (Sports, Leadership, Arts and Management) charter school in one of the Miami’s most impoverished neighborhoods. SLAM!, which educates students in grades 6-12, now has a school in West Palm Beach that could become a direct feeder to Palm Beach State College.

Pitbull is also passionate about using and advancing technology. Besides utilizing social media to communicate with his fans and supporters, he is co-founder of eMerge Americas. This 3-year-old conference brings together high-tech firms from throughout the Americas to promote innovation and the development of disruptive technology across a myriad of industries.

In 2017, the Foundation will enter the fifth year of its STEAM initiative to impact the projected shortage of local, skilled professionals in the STEAM fields. Goals include increasing student scholarships, business partnerships, internships and other academic program enhancements to prepare more graduates for these high-wage, high-demand positions.

Sponsors of the event are: Bank of America, Modernizing Medicine, Florida Power & Light, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Tenet Florida Physician Services, The Palm Beach Post, WXEL PBS for the Palm Beaches and Alpha Media.

For ticket information, click here.

Individual tickets purchased before Dec. 15 are $175; after Dec. 15 tickets are $200.


Spotlight: Linkin Park’s Charity Work

Dec 12, 2016 06:00 am

Linkin Park

Linkin Park has helped raise money to benefit victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

They also helped relief efforts for the 2004 Tsunami victims by staging several charity concerts, and setting up an additional fund called Music for Relief.

The band participated at Live 8 with Jay-Z.

Read more about Linkin Park’s charity work and events.

Spotlight: JDRF’s Celebrity Supporters

Dec 12, 2016 05:00 am
The mission of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. They work to accomplish this by finding and funding the best and most relevant research to help achieve a cure for this devastating disease through

  • Restoration of normal blood sugar levels
  • Avoidance and reversal of complications
  • Prevention of diabetes and its recurrence

Celebrity supporters

JDRF has 19 known supporters, including Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas, and Duchess of Cornwall

Areas of work

Read more about JDRF’s work and celebrity supporters.