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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid