When it comes to celebrities and philanthropy, few give more than Oprah Winfrey. Over the years, Ms. Winfrey has donated millions of dollars of her own money to fund various interests and charities. A significant portion of her giving has flowed through three main charities: The Angel Network, which has been heavily publicized on her show; her own personal foundation, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation; and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation, which exclusively supports her Leadership Academy in South Africa.
The Angel Network
Over the years, Oprah Winfrey used her talk show to publicize The Angel Network, dedicating at least a few shows a year to its work. Oprah's Angel Network was distinctive in many ways. First, it was a charity focused on getting people involved. Further, 100 percent of any donation went directly toward funding a project. Oprah Winfrey paid all of the overhead and operating costs for The Angel Network herself.
Like many charities, Oprah's Angel Network began small. Ms. Winfrey started it in 1997 with the goal of getting audience members more involved in giving and volunteering. She encouraged viewers to collect spare change to provide scholarships for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, as well as 200 volunteers to build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Angel Network's Work
The Angel Network collected millions of dollars in donations which then provided grants to organizations that focused on Oprah Winfrey's charitable initiatives, including:
- Giving access to education to those who might not otherwise have it
- Developing leaders who will then turn around and lead their communities
- Protecting basic human rights
- Creating communities of support
The arm of the Angel Network was far-reaching. Although projects were primarily concentrated in the United States, they also provided grants to overseas organizations. Examples of the organization's projects include The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School for Girls and other educational initiatives for children around the world.
It was announced in 2010 that the organization would dissolve as soon all funds were dispersed and would cease to accept donations.
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation
Oprah Winfrey runs The Oprah Winfrey Foundation exclusively. The foundation provides grants for not-for-profit organizations. Oprah Winfrey uses her personal money to fund the grants, which help projects of special interest to Ms. Winfrey, including education, learning and leadership development.
The organization doesn't accept donations or grant applications. Instead, Oprah Winfrey chooses charities and makes special endowments through her private foundation, giving millions of dollars in grants to nonprofit organizations. The foundation has more than $190 million in assets and funds.
The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation
This foundation was created to provide funds exclusively for operating the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Oprah Winfrey began this school in January of 2007. Contributors can donate to this foundation through their website. The foundation is set up to give money to special projects or to make building repairs and improvements.
Other Oprah Winfrey Charities and Special Projects
It's through these foundations that Oprah was able to extend her charitable arm far and wide throughout the world. The charities of Oprah Winfrey support a variety of organizations, mostly focused on African Americans and those who are impoverished. Here a couple other charities that she has contributed to and supported through her foundations.
O Ambassadors was a school-based program that sought to encourage kids to give and act on behalf of their peers in underdeveloped countries.
The US Dream Academy
The US Dream Academy is a national after-school program seeking to work with children who have one parent (usually a father) incarcerated. The goal is to break the cycle of incarceration. In 2006, Oprah donated almost one million dollars, and according to financial reports, she is one of their biggest supporters.
Making a Difference
With a focus on philanthropy, volunteerism, and making a difference in the world, Oprah Winfrey has demonstrated how much change one individual can affect. Channeling a significant portion of her income into charitable initiatives, Ms. Winfrey sets an example many can follow.