Oprah gives grants to ‘home’ cities during pandemic

Mesfin Fekadu

NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey is giving grants to the cities she’s called home through her USD12 million coronavirus relief fund.

She announced on Wednesday that her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation will donate money to organisations dedicated to helping underserved communities in Chicago; Baltimore; Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee; and Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she was born.

“The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up,” Winfrey said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone, the devastation left by people not being able to work for months who were holding on paycheque to paycheque, who have used up their savings — people are going to be in need. So my thing is, look in your own neighbourhood, in your own backyard to see how you can serve and where your service is most essential. That is the real essential work, I think, for people of means.”

After speaking with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other leaders, Winfrey decided to give USD5 million to Live Healthy Chicago, which provides immediate support to seniors and high-risk residents affected by the coronavirus.

In Nashville, where Winfrey lived with her father and started her media career, she is giving USD2 million to NashvilleNurtures, a collaboration with Mount Zion Baptist Church and Tennessee State University, Winfrey’s alma mater. They plan to feed 10,000 families in and around the city.

In Milwaukee, where she lived with her mother, Winfrey is assisting those in need of housing and mental health care with a USD100,000 donation to SaintA and The Nia Imani Family Inc.

In Baltimore, where Winfrey also built her media career, she’s donating money to Living Classrooms Foundation and Center for Urban Families.

She will also give USD115,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi.

“I’m not opposed to big organisations 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.”