Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, and iHeartMedia joined together tonight to air a citywide “virtual telethon” to raise awareness and funds to help New Yorkers whose lives have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19.
Hosted by Tina Fey, “Rise Up New York!” brought together bighearted New Yorkers with one common goal: to raise funds for Robin Hood’s relief and recovery efforts to help fellow New Yorkers rebuild their lives as the city moves towards recovery and beyond. One hundred percent of donations raised are deployed directly to the organizations on the frontlines who are providing support for food, shelter, cash assistance, health and mental health, legal services, education and more. To date, Robin Hood has raised over $115 million toward relief and recovery efforts since the onset of the pandemic in New York City. In addition to tonight’s telethon, over $44 million of the funds were already raised through the Robin Hood Relief Fund and over $1.5 million has been raised through Robin Hood’s “Relief Corps,” including Gwyneth Paltrow, Karlie Kloss, Katie Couric and New York’s sports teams, who launched GoFundMe fundraisers to engage their networks. Robin Hood was also supported generously by corporate donors, including Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., Barclays, BlackRock, Capital One, Goldman Sachs Gives, PepsiCo and Related Companies along with Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation, who recognized the extreme need for help and proactively reached out at the onset of the pandemic.
Telethon appearances included Governor Andrew Cuomo, Angie Mar, Awkwafina, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chris Rock, Daniel Humm, Danny Meyer, Darryl McDaniels, David Chang, Eli Manning, Fab 5 Freddy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Chastain, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Tuck, Matthew Broderick, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Michael Strahan, Mike D & Ad-Rock, Patti Lupone, Phil Simms, Robert De Niro, Rosie Perez, RZA, Salt-N-Pepa, Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee and Trevor Noah. Musical performances included Alicia Keys, Andrew Rannells, Ben Platt, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Chris Jackson, Cynthia Erivo, Idina Menzel, Karen Olivio, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mariah Carey and Sting.
Highlights from the one-hour benefit included:
Robert De Niro opened the show with a call to action for the five boroughs to rise up, saying: “Our city is under attack but we’ve been here before. In the last 20 years – both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. You can take your best shot but you cannot break our spirit.”
Host Tina Fey addressed the audience from an empty 30 Rockefeller Plaza to remind New Yorkers how even the smallest donation counts: “If you had breakfast today, you are better off than two million of your neighbors who woke up hungry.”
Musical performances included Mariah Carey’s rendition of “Through the Rain/Make It Happen”; Sting’s “Message in a Bottle”; Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” along with Staten Island’s P.S. 22 School District, as introduced by Jennifer Lopez.
CEO of Robin Hood, Wes Moore, stood in his former Bronx neighborhood to address the community’s dire needs and share Robin Hood’s 32-year-history of helping in the midst of catastrophic crises.
Real human interest stories showcased the many ways New Yorkers are helping their neighbors, like Staten Island’s Rev. Dr. Terry Troia who is providing a shelter in her church and a place to shower for homeless people in the community. Queens’ Swami Durga Das, known for his work with The River Fund, is helping to feed struggling people who have no income or no savings but are desperate for food.
New York Giants Super Bowl Champions Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan and Phil Simms announced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity through Omaze for one lucky fan to play a game of touch football with the players in their own backyard and score a Super Bowl ring. The winner of the sweepstakes and three friends will have an opportunity to play with the players, coached by team owners, John Mara and Steve Tisch, and officiated by legendary sportscasters Mike Tirico and Bob Costas. The winner will also receive his or her very own Super Bowl ring, a photo with the Giants’ Super Bowl trophies and a celebratory dinner at their home. Fans can now donate to win on Omaze until August 4th, 2020.
Broadway legends Barbra Streisand, Patti Lupone and Audra McDonald offered their feelings on the closing of New York City’s Theater District. Streisand said, “When all the Broadway theaters went dark it was another shock, in the midst of many these days, it was painful to think that all that creative energy suddenly shut down. I cannot wait for the lights to go back on and all the theaters around the world… especially Broadway.” Lupone added, “When I woke up on March 12, I didn’t know that I had played my last performance of Company the night before. It was the day Broadway houses went dark due to COVID-19… but we will come back. The lights of Broadway, now dimmed, will shine again on those beautiful houses because the show must and will, go on.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda kicked off a zoom rendition of “New York, New York” with at-home Broadway stars Andrew Rannells, Ben Platt, Chris Jackson, Cynthia Erivo, Idina Menzel and Karen Olivo.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the disparities of Coronavirus and urged New Yorkers to take the crisis and turn it into a unifying moment.
David Chang joined fellow chefs and restaurateurs Angie Mar, Daniel Humm, Daniel Meyer and Winston Chiu to highlight the impact on New York’s restaurant business. Chang said, "It is impossible to overstate the importance of New York’s restaurant industry. It’s also impossible to overstate the crisis it’s currently facing – the threat of extinction. That is very scary. "
Jimmy Fallon provided thoughtful, comedic relief with Fallon drafting his iconic “Thank You Notes” where he thanked “the Brooklyn Bridge for keeping Brooklyn and Manhattan socially-distanced”, as well as “New York for showing the world what the Empire State of Mind really is: perseverance, belief in the future, belief in each other.”
Hip-Hop stars Ad-Rock, Chris Rock, Darryl McDaniels, Fab 5 Freddy, Mike D, Rosie Perez, RZA and Salt-N-Pepa joined to raise awareness on the hurting communities who bred hip-hop.
Longtime supporter of Robin Hood, entrepreneur, philanthropist and three-term New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke to the needs of New York’s most vulnerable and the financial hardships the city faced in the wake of crises like Hurricane Sandy and 9/11.
The benefit closed with Governor Andrew Cuomo surprising viewers by introducing a special performance of “Miami 2017” by friend Billy Joel, which took over 13 of Times Square’s iconic digital billboards. At the same time, the Empire State Building debuted a choreographed lighting spectacle that will repeat at 9 PM ET every night throughout this week.
Rise Up New York! aired across local New York City broadcast television stations; Cheddar; News 12; RSN SportsNet New York/SNY; Spectrum News NY1; and YES Network. Rise Up New York! aired across iHeartMedia and Entercom broadcast radio stations, with additional radio broadcast support, nationally, on SiriusXM and CNBC. Rise Up New York! was streamed on ABC News Live, LiveXLive, NBC News NOW and NowThis Media, with additional streaming support on Robin Hood’s Facebook.
Rise Up New York! was executively produced by Alex Coletti Productions and John Sykes, President of Entertainment Enterprises at iHeartMedia, along with talent producers Casey Patterson and Rick Krim.
To learn more about Robin Hood’s response to the pandemic and the organization, or to donate, please go to www.robinhood.org.