Doin’ the Work: A Profile on the Philanthropy of Alicia Keys

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On September 17, Alicia Keys appeared on Good Morning America (GMA) to give a surprise performance for frontline essential workers in New York City and to talk about her new album ALICIA. After the performance, the multi-Grammy winning singer talked with GMA host Michael Strahan about a number of things, but there was one subject in particular that caught my attention: Keys’ launch of a $1 billion fund to support Black-owned businesses and Black communities.

Keys is partnering with the NFL to create this charitable fund designed to “empower Black America.” In an interview with Billboard, Keys said the following about the endeavor:

"We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us. As an artist, I’m always thinking about how can I use my platform to further racial equity. This fund is one of the answers and our goal is to empower Black America through investing in Black businesses, Black investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, schools and banks in a way to create sustainable solutions."

Recognizing that the partnership with the NFL, which has faced scrutiny over its alleged co-opting of the social justice movement while still blackballing players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, Keys told Billboard that she is committed to holding the NFL accountable in this specific initiative.

"There is an urgent conversation that is happening across businesses about the importance of investing in Black America. I’m personally committed to holding corporations and institutions accountable, and in my conversations with the NFL, they reaffirmed their commitment to racial equity,” the R&B singer said.

Now, let me not lie, I would have deeper reservations about Keys working with the NFL if it were not for her personal track record of philanthropy and volunteerism for a myriad of causes. She has been no stranger to using her celebrity to aid in fundraising for causes that specifically have been of benefit to people of color and marginalized communities.

And though economic injustice is but one of several forms of injustice that hinders the total liberation of Black people in America, Keys understands that economic empowerment and building generational wealth is one tool that can be utilized in tipping the scales towards equity.

“The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment,” Keys told Billboard. “Even with that it does not come close to closing the economic gap. The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion-dollar endowment across business sectors.”

Sounds solid, Alicia. Best of luck in meeting all your deliverables.

About the Author

Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be.