Media juggernaut Oprah Winfrey announced her charity is donating 12 million dollars to organizations helping under-served communities during COVID-19 in places she calls home. The large donation is meant to serve in helping black and brown communities in their battle with Covid-19 in Chicago, along with Nashville, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Kosciusko, Mississippi.
Winfrey announced her Covid-19 Relief Fund last month, initially giving $1 million to America’s Food Fund. More recently, she has given grants to the advocacy organization Global Citizen.
After speaking with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other leaders, Oprah’s charity is donating funds in upwards of $5 million to Chicago organizations helping communities of color. Donations will support Live Healthy Chicago, an initiative that provides families in predominately African-American and Latinx communities, known to face an elevated risk of severe symptoms, immediate support in the form of wellness visits, contact tracing and care packages by building the capacity of organizations that are on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic today while also invested in the long term recovery of these communities. Groups like the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and the MAAFA Redemption Project in Chicago will also benefit.
“One of the things that I wanted to do was to give back directly into the black community and also understand for myself that the essential service for people that have means, no matter who you are or what those means are, the essential work for us is to recognize that at this moment, the people who have been the essential workers for us all and have shown us united in ways that we didn’t even know, that it is our essential work to give back,” Oprah said.
Winfrey said she was inspired by what she saw happening in the city that has given her so much. It was important to support those fighting the pandemic on the front lines. She also said, “I’m not opposed to big organizations dispersing money, but I always like to do the on-the-ground grassroots stuff myself,” she said. “Look, I want to be able to reach people who have been incarcerated and are coming out of prison. I want to reach mothers of domestic violence. I want to reach people. I want to feed people. I want to help people get access to testing.”
“That came together because I wanted to give back something to Chicago and because Chicago has been so great to me and for all the years that I spent there, and I wanted to be able to get it directly into the hands of the community.”
Oprah has been sheltered in place since March 11, shortly after she completed a nine-city wellness tour that featured the likes of Michelle Obama and Tracey Ellis Ross.