At a press conference yesterday at Madison Square Garden in New York City, two cultural institutions and one community-based educational organization – American Ballet Theater, Uptown Dance Academy and Harlem Children’s Zone – received large, monetary donations to the tune of $250,000 for one, $250,000 for the other and a whopping $1,000,000 for the third.
The donor? The Purple One himself.
“In my 28 years at this job, this is the first time I’ve seen someone from the music industry step up and do something like this. I am touched and blown away by his generosity. This is unprecedented,” said Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), an educational organization that offers free programs to the poverty-stricken children and families of Harlem.
Canada said he got a call from Prince who said, “I heard about what you’re doing and I want to help invest in America’s children.” The $1,000,000 gift will benefit the thousands of children that HCZ serves.
Just hours before his last performance at the Garden, which marked the close of the first leg of the “Welcome 2 America” tour, Prince treated 30 aspiring, musical students from HCZ to a special evening of mingling onstage with him and his New Power Generation band and interacting backstage with make-up, wardrobe and technical professionals for the show.
Prince will move his tour to new cities across the U.S. where he will make similar donations to other outstanding organizations.
On hand for opening remarks was Harriette Cole, president of Harriette Cole Media. “Prince is passionate about the arts. It’s about connection, commitment and love. He’s been overseas for a while but this tour is really about America,” Cole said. She, along with ballerina Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theater, then called representatives of each of the three organizations onstage to accept the donations. The awards were given in the form of private lines of credit from which funds can be drawn for the children’s future. But instead of just giving away money, Prince plans to work with each organization and ensure that the funds will be appropriated wisely.
Canada told The Network Journal that Prince wants to be engaged in how the money is spent. “We’ll talk with Prince about what our ideas are for certain projects. Based on his understanding of a particular project, we’ll have the funds in place to secure it,” he said. “Currently, we have 600 kids headed for college. 230 of them are in the pipeline to receive financial help. After that, we have a project coming up aimed at 3-year olds,” he added.
In further support of the next generation, Prince is auctioning off the solid gold Fender Custom Stratocaster guitar he used during the “Welcome 2 America” tour. Proceeds from the sale will go to HCZ. No word yet on how much money the guitar fetched.