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Grammy Award winning artist Ne-Yo walked into the gymnasium at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles on December 3, and was met by over 500 excited kids during his Compound Foundation's 6th Annual Giving Tour.

Ne-Yo at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles on December 3
Ne-Yo at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles on December 3

Look to the Stars was on hand to take part in the festivities as foster youth accepted gifts and love from a man who is truly making a difference in their lives.

And, after he patiently met with each and every of the 500+ foster youth, Ne-Yo made time to chat with us before heading off to Las Vegas.

How did the Compound Foundation get started?

I was inspired to establish the Compound Foundation by my business manager Reynell Hayes – he dealt very heavily with group homes and things of that nature, he spent time in group homes so he was actually the one that brought child welfare to my attention.

Who inspires you?

My mother, who is also President of my Foundation. She is the person who taught me if you are given blessings you can be a blessing to someone else, and if you can help – you help. It’s not about cameras flashing or someone patting you on the back, it’s not about what you get in return, it’s simply about helping because it’s the right thing to do.

You have been giving out gifts and meeting kids from this Boys and Girls Club for the last few hours, you must get something from it. Is it spiritually rewarding?

Definitely so. Just the looks on the kids’ faces and knowing that I have given a kid who didn’t have a reason to smile, a reason to smile.

Did you have a tough time growing up yourself?

Not a terribly tough time, I credit that all to my mother. We were a single parent home. My mom at one time worked five or six jobs to make sure my sister and I never needed anything – everything we wanted we didn’t have, but everything we needed we did.

Next stop on the Giving Tour is Las Vegas?

Yeah, we always do Vegas cuz that’s where I’m from and we finish in Atlanta, which is where I live currently.

What are your plans for the holidays?

I’m going home. I’ll be in Atlanta, I moved out there about three years ago, moved my mom and sister out there, my immediate family, just so I can have them close to me. I have two children of my own and their mother, and yeah, we are all going to spend some time together at the house.

And what’s going on with your music?

New album on the way, I’m in the studio right now putting it together, be looking for it around the middle of next year. I’ll have a single on the radio by February, right around Valentines Day.

Dion Warwick came out today to support you and you mentioned earlier that you recorded a song with her?

Yeah she has a duets album coming out, so it’s her and a bunch of ‘now’ artists and I did ‘A House is Not a Home’ with her. Incredible experience and an incredible woman. I think it might be the first single of her album. I’m really excited about it.

Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?

Anybody out there that wants to get involved with what it is we’re doing – from the Giving Tour to our Entrepreneur Program, go to CompoundFoundation.org. That’s where all the information is, from making a donation to becoming a partner to questions about becoming a foster parent, its all the right.

And finally, if you had a theme song, what would it be?

Wow, that’s a good question, I never thought about that… this might require a little more thought than I have time to give it right now, I’m going to think about that and get back to you!

Thanks to Ne-Yo, his Foundation employees and Jodie Blum for making it an exceptional Giving Tuesday.

The Compound Foundation is a national organization founded in 2007 by Shaffer “Ne-Yo” Smith and his business partner Reynell Hay to enhance the well-being of youth growing up in foster care and group homes. The Foundation’s goal is to support bright futures for young people by helping them to forge healthy relationships, pursue education and training, learn entrepreneurship basics and realize their dreams.

Also, many thanks to Together We Rise, which was an integral part of the event.

Together We Rise is a 501c3 non-profit organization comprised of motivated young adults and former foster youth.Their foundation has allowed them to provide thousands of foster kids across the country with sports equipment, bicycles, and suitcases so that they don’t have to travel from home to home in a trash bag.

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