In 2003, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter dropped his eighth record, “The Black Album,” promoting the prophetic classic as his final album before embarking on a self-imposed retirement. During the same year the musician, businessman and philanthropist co-founded the Shawn Carter Foundation with his mother, Gloria, focused on empowering youth and communities in need.
Hov will headline the sixth edition of Philadelphia’s Budweiser Made In America Festival, a two-day music festival and staple of Labor Day Weekend he curated, featuring a philanthropic section, the Cause Village.
Showcasing the Hip-Hop artist’s goodwill and advocacy efforts, Cause Village engages charitable organizations and issues by providing a platform for them to create awareness at one of America’s largest music festivals.
“He comes from that. He comes from learning to give back and he has touched people’s lives,” Gloria told the HuffPost earlier this year. “He has changed their lives also. And in the process of doing that, he also changed his life.”
Since the Carters created the foundation, they’ve raised more than $4 million for initiatives including annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities tours, international study abroad experiences, community and outreach programming, and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund.
“There's so many people that have a desire to go to college, but they can't get the funding. With me taking on this responsibility, we make dreams come true,” Carter told ESSENCE. To date, Shawn Carter Scholars have enrolled in more than 100 higher education institutions throughout the nation.
Through Made In America’s Cause Village, which donates a portion of festival ticket sales to charitable organizations, JAY-Z and his mother have inspired tens of thousands to become more socially conscious and take action locally.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in Made In America and to talk with people about the need to end mass incarceration. Our criminal justice system is broken. Fixing it is a major priority of the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union],” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
A beneficiary of this year’s concert, alongside the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Shuford is leading a team of more than 100 volunteers that will highlight “smart justice” under the slogan “People. Not Prisons.”
Founded in 1920, the ACLU is the nation's foremost guardian of liberty recognized for its advocacy, education and litigation while promoting civil liberties and equal treatment under the law. As an affiliate of the ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending and protecting our individual rights and personal freedoms.
“This is a unique opportunity for us to engage people about civil liberties,” Shuford said. “Musicians have a platform to be high-profile voices for justice in this country, and we look forward to encouraging their fans to speak up and be a part of activism for civil liberties.”
More than ready to host the festival, the City of Philadelphia — a three-time recipient of the International Festival & Events Association Award — is excited to welcome the more than 150,000 anticipated concertgoers to experience the city’s world-class community and culture.
Over the past five years, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the festival which added an estimated “$10 million in economic benefit for the city of Philadelphia” in its first year.
Money invested from the concert, into the City of Philadelphia and surrounding areas, “will positively impact the education, income and heath of the most vulnerable citizens in our region,” said Kevin Dow, senior vice president of impact and innovation of UWGPSNJ.
”We invest in initiatives that support youth success and family stability to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty in the Greater Philadelphia area and throughout South Jersey,” said Dow.
UWGPSNJ serves communities in Pennsylvania's Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and New Jersey's Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland counties.
“Our partnership with Made In America helps us to invest in education and talent development initiatives that present, and enhance, educational opportunities as well as equip individuals with job skills and training,” said Dow.
“We have strategies in place that pulls together financial and human resources to address a variety of social issues such as Hurricane Harvey. We’re collecting donations this weekend to send to Texas in support of those impacted by the floods and are in need help,” Dow said.
In partnership with Barnes and Noble and Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market, UWGPSNJ recently collected new and gently used books for children “working to ensure more local students have the opportunity to succeed in the classroom.” Book donors were automatically entered to win tickets to attend the festival.
“We thank JAY-Z and everyone at Roc Nation for inviting us to be a part of this event,” said Shuford,