Young women today are surrounded by ideals of beauty, diversity and popularity. Weeding your way through all of these distractions to find good role models for your daughter can seem difficult, even impossible, but there are, in fact, many women in business and entertainment who are proving to be more than worthy of the title “philanthropist”.
A former project manager for Microsoft, Melinda Gates is the wife of the company’s co-founder, Bill Gates. Together with her husband, Melinda Gates founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world. Through the foundation, Melinda Gates has worked to improve global healthcare, with the eradication of polio being one of her most important causes. The foundation also focuses its money and efforts on eradicating poverty throughout the world, expand opportunities for education in the United States and abroad, and increasing the accessibility of information technology.
Improving the quality of education, and increasing access, is one of the most common ways that philanthropists support educational efforts. For Harriet Stephens, the commitment to improving the quality of education for kids in Little Rock, Arkansas is one she shares with her husband, Warren. Together with her late father-in-law, Jackson T. Stephens, Harriet Stephens has committed $30 million dollars to the Episcopal Collegiate School, a college preparatory school that enrolls more than 350 boys and girls in grades six through twelve. The interest earned on the endowment is used to benefit the curriculum at the school, to recruit and train quality teachers, and to provide scholarships for students. Sending your daughter on a quick search of Harriet Stephens news items will also yield information about her philanthropy connected to The First Tee golfing academy and the Arkansas Art Center.
Helen La Kelly Hunt and Swanee Hunt
The daughters of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, Helen and Swanee Hunt have dedicated millions to a variety of philanthropic causes. Together, they co-founded the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which supports social movement leaders and youth arts organizations.
In 2005, Helen and Swanee Hunt started with a combined $10 million dollars and sparked a global funding initiative called Women Moving Millions. Women from around the world made gifts of $1 million dollars or more to the fund, all geared toward benefitting the causes of women and girls around the world. The fund continues to draw major contributors, with partnerships that assist women and girls in a variety of ways.
Arguably one of the most recognizable women in the world, actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt has become as well known for her humanitarian efforts as she has for her professional roles. Beginning in 2001, Angelina Jolie-Pitt began taking an interest in the plight of people in war-torn countries, and ultimately contacted the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to see how she could help. Many trips followed, including visits to Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia and Pakistan. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie-Pitt has visited dozens of countries, and even put her life on the line on several occasions, to elevate the plight of the displaced and dismissed.
Supporting education around the world is also important to Angelina Jolie-Pitt. In 2007, she founded the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. This partnership supports the education of children who have been affected by war and natural disasters.
Finding inspiring, positive role models for young girls can be daunting with so much emphasis today put on how you look and how much attention you have online. These women, and many others, have taken their financial success, family names and professional popularity and used them to invest in philanthropic causes, changing the world one person, one group, one place, at a time.