News / USA

    Concert for Sandy Victims Will Reach Across World

    Signage for the "12-12-12" concert is displayed on the Madison Square Garden jumbotron in New York, December 11, 2012.
    Signage for the "12-12-12" concert is displayed on the Madison Square Garden jumbotron in New York, December 11, 2012.
    Carolyn Weaver
    A New York benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy victims, featuring performances by the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, among others, is shaping up to be the most widely seen musical event ever, according to organizers, with a projected worldwide audience approaching two billion.
     
    The 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief at New York’s Madison Square Garden
    is the brainchild of a little-known New York City anti-poverty organization, the Robin Hood Foundation, founded in 1988 by hedge fund owners Paul Tudor Jones and Glenn Dubin.
     
    The foundation operates on a “venture philanthropy” model, funding $140 million in grants each year to about 200 anti-poverty efforts across New York City, says Deborah Winshel, Robin Hood’s president and chief operating officer. After Sandy ‘s devastation, it expanded its reach to hard-hit communities in New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island, as well.
     
    Several Robin Hood board members, including film producer Harvey Weinstein and John Sykes, president of Clear Channel Entertainment, organized the Sandy relief concert with Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan - as they did the far smaller Concert for New York following the September 11, 2001 attacks. They say this year’s concert will reach many millions more, who will be able to watch and listen for free live via the Internet and scores of TV and radio broadcasts around the world.
     
    Deborah Winshel, President and COO, Robin Hood FoundationDeborah Winshel, President and COO, Robin Hood Foundation
    x
    Deborah Winshel, President and COO, Robin Hood Foundation
    Deborah Winshel, President and COO, Robin Hood Foundation
    ​Already, Winshel says, ticket sales have raised more than $32 million.  All the proceeds will go to organizations providing relief to those plunged into poverty - or threatened with it - by the storm’s devastation. She says that is also true of 100 percent of other donations to the foundation.  Board members themselves fund the organization’s overhead costs, so that donors know their money will be spent on aid, not on salaries or offices for the staff of 90.
     
    “Robin Hood is the largest poverty fighter in New York City,” Winshel said. “We look to identify fund and support organizations that we think are the most effective in addressing poverty and that can range from soup kitchens to homeless shelters, to after-school programs to high schools, any intervention that we think will be helpful in allowing people to improve their lives.”
     
    She said that Robin Hood’s innovation is using “investment principles” to try to assess both qualitatively and dollar for dollar, the cost-benefit ratio of anti-poverty programs - and funding only the most effective.
     
    Charity springs from compassion, Winshel said, “But you can marry that to analytical rigor. We look at the entire landscape and try to use your money and leverage your dollar in the most effective way.”
     
    The funds also flow without delay, she said. Robin Hood raised about $15.5 million in the immediate wake of Sandy - and has already distributed $14.5 million.
     
    “We have a list on our web site we’re updating every week with all the grants we’re making related to Sandy, so that’s one way for anyone to understand where their money is going,” she said.
     
    In addition to social service groups and food banks in New York City, Sandy donations now are going to similar efforts in Connecticut, Long Island and New Jersey.
     
    The storm has created thousands of new homeless and poor in New York and surrounding areas, Winshel noted. Before the storm, 21 percent of New Yorkers were living in poverty, according to census data.
     
    “We had 40,000 people living in shelter[s],” Winshel said. “Almost half are children. After Sandy, that number has gone up somewhere into the 55,000s and [is] growing. The statistics are just startling, so for us, even Sandy aside, the work here is so significant and there’s so much still to do,” she said.

    Winshel is aware of the irony of a hedge-funders’ charity named after a 13th century bandit of English folklore, legendary for stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In the case of the Robin Hood Foundation, however, it is about the ultra-rich challenging each each other to lighten their own coffers.

    Financier George Soros has the record for a one-time gift, pledging $50 million in 2009. At the group’s annual awards dinner that year, the New York Times reported, comedian Jon Stewart told the crowd. “Tonight is a chance for Wall Street to help all those people hurt so badly by …Oh, sorry.”

    They will have another chance with the 12-12 concert. “This is the biggest rock concert and the biggest grossing event ever,” Harvey Weinstein recently told the Wall Street Journal.

    Prices for individual tickets to the sold-out concert, which will also feature Eric Clapton, The Who, Roger Waters, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin and Dave Grohl, were $150 to $25,000 - although million-dollar packages were also on offer to moguls who want to host friends for pre- and post-concert events as well.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora