Lady Gaga announced the formation of a new youth-focused foundation at Harvard University yesterday. The Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), seeded with funds from the singer herself as well as major philanthropic groups, aims to help young people by addressing self-confidence, well-being, bullying, mentorship and self-confidence though research, education and advocacy.
Gaga unveiled the new initiative with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, before a crowd of A-list policymakers, cultural leaders and students on Harvard’s Boston-area campus. The star explained BTWF’s goals through a mock trial, with the “judges” panel including Deepak Chopra, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius, Neil Patrick Harris’ hubby David Burtka and others.
“BTWF will create an environment that allows youth to safely express their individuality and one that provides them with the skills needed to implement solution, whether it be ‘online, on the road, or down the street,’” the organization said in a statement. “With a focus on digital mobilization to create positive change, BTWF will lead youth to a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be.”
Gaga added, “The culture of love is not going to change overnight, but youth are the answer to creating a braver, kinder world.”
Gaga pledged $1.2 million to the foundation, dedicating $200,000 to cover the overhead costs. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed $1 million, and Barney’s New York raised more than $750,000 through product sales from Gaga’s Holiday Workshop and donated an additional $100,000.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the California Endowment to Empower Youth and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society have partnered with BTWF to explore the best ways of reaching young people and create a “culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment.”