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
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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs