Cause Celeb

Can star power create social change?

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Celeb: Lauryn Hill, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B artist

Cause: The Refugee Project (TRP), an outreach program for at-risk urban youths from New York and New Jersey

What she’s done: Hill founded TRP in 1996 and serves as chair of the board of directors. She also made an appearance at the August 1998 Camp Hill, a two-week recreational camp in the Catskill Mountains for kids between 10 and 13 years old.

What celeb gets: Spiritual fulfillment and publicity

What cause gets: Camp Hill, a mentorship program, a reading club, and an annual Halloween party, not to mention support from such superstar trustees as Sean “Puffy” Combs, Cornel West, and Spike Lee

Connection between celeb and cause: Hill grew up in a working-class section of South Orange, N.J., and knows from personal experience that dead-end inertia can be overcome.

Chance celeb will humiliate cause: Slim. Hill is known to be dedicated and socially aware. Plus, the kids love her.

What good came of this? More than 100 urban kids got the chance to escape to the Catskills. Says one of the camp’s sponsors: “[It gave] kids a great opportunity to get out into the country, and to learn skills through a structured curriculum of seminars in music, accounting, and marketing.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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