The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has partnered with Grammy awarding-winning artist Lady Gaga, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the California Endowment to launch the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a non-profit charitable organization that will support programs and initiatives aimed at empowering youth.
The organization “will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be,” the foundation’s press release said. “BTWF will focus on youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development, and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change.”
Additional details concerning the Born This Way Foundation, including the appointment of an advisory board, will be announced shortly, and the official launch will take place in 2012, organizers said.
“Together we hope to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment,” said Lady Gaga, who will direct the foundation with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta.
“It seems Hollywood launches foundations all the time, but I can’t recall an artist of Lady Gaga’s reach or caliber who has done the months of due-diligence and behind-the-scenes meetings with the experts before they’ve launched such a foundation,” said John Palfrey, Harvard Law School professor and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “If this dedication and thoroughness is any indication of what is to come when this program launches, the Born This Way Foundation has the potential to transform the foundation community the same way Lady Gaga is transforming the music industry.”
Numerous Harvard schools will be involved in the foundation, the Harvard Crimson reported.
“We’re working across school lines,” Palfrey told the Crimson. “It’s a good chance for Harvard to be one University.”
Bob Ross, CEO and president of the California Endowment, said: “Speaking not only as a foundation leader, but also as a pediatrician, we are thrilled to serve as a strategic partner in Lady Gaga’s philanthropic commitment on behalf of young people. Lady Gaga will help empower and give voice to young people who find themselves overwhelmed, under-supported, disconnected, isolated, bullied, or struggling … this brand of leadership is sorely needed in today’s world.”
Said Connie Yowell, director of education for the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: “This is a time of potential transformation in how young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life because of digital media. With new tools come new responsibility and sometimes painful unintended consequences such as bullying and challenges to safety. Lady Gaga is at the forefront of harnessing the power of digital media for her fans and encouraging them to be healthy and safe and to make meaningful change in the world. We look forward to working with her and the Born This Way Foundation as a strategic partner.”
The partnership has been highlighted by the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe (subscription required).
For more information and to take the foundation’s pledge, visit www.BornThisWayFoundation.org.