Rihanna's Foundation Donated $15 Million to Climate Justice Groups – and Jack Dorsey Joined in, Too

Getty Images | Tim P. Whitby

Rihanna, the singer and CEO of Fenty Beauty, may not have a lot in common with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. But the two entrepreneurs have found common ground in philanthropy, using their wealth to support people left vulnerable by climate change.

This week, Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) joined forces with Dorsey's #StartSmall initiative to donate a combined $15 million to 18 different climate justice groups. The grants will go to organizations "focused on and led by women, youth, Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities" in the U.S. and Caribbean. 

"At the [CLF], much of the work is rooted in the understanding that climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of color and island nations facing the brunt of climate change," Rihanna said in a statement

The organizations receiving the money each aim to support communities of color, especially on island countries, that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Caribbean Youth Environment Network, for example, advocates for youth employment and better water resource management among Caribbean communities. [tightened]

In a tweet on Wednesday, Dorsey lauded Rihanna's CLF, saying the foundation does "incredible work."

This isn't Dorsey's first collaboration with Rihanna. Since the beginning of the pandemic, #StartSmall and CLF have donated roughly $57 million to similar causes, as well as natural disaster preparedness resources, rental assistance for low-income families and services for domestic violence victims and survivors, according to Dorsey's public spreadsheet tracking his initiative's donations.

Rihanna founded CLF to "support and fund groundbreaking education and climate resilience initiatives" in 2012, according to the organization's website. One of its first initiatives, which launched a year after the foundation began, raised $60 million for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS through sales from the singer's lipstick line with MAC Cosmetics.

In 2020, it raised $36 million for organizations on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic and another $11 million for programs trying to reform the police and criminal justice systems.

"My money is not for me; it's always the thought that I can help someone else," Rihanna told CNBC Make It in 2019. "The world can really make you believe that the wrong things are priority, and it makes you really miss the core of life, what it means to be alive."

Dorsey started #StartSmall LLC in April 2020 to "fund global Covid-19 relief" and "girl's health and education, and universal basic income." He funded the initiative with $1 billion in shares from his fintech company Block, formerly known as Square, which he founded in 2009. At the time, that amount accounted for 28% of the tech giant's net worth.

According to Dorsey's spreadsheet, his initiative has donated over $448 million to more than 250 organizations, including NYU's Cash Transfer Lab, Water.org and the Malala Fund. And there's more money allocated to #StartSmall, as the initiative still has more than $1.8 billion worth of Block shares left to give away.

"The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime," Dorsey tweeted at the time. "I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let's do everything we can today to help people now."

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