SoLa Impact’s I Can Foundation announced a $1 million grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF) to provide scholarships to South LA Residents as part of the “South LA Forward” initiative.
Oprah Winfrey was joined by other philanthropists – including Jimmy Iovine and Liberty Ross, Ashley and Marc Merrill, Live Nation Entertainment, and several leading corporations – as part of the Founder’s Circle of donors. Corporate donors included Goldman Sachs, the United Way, Royal Bank of Canada, First Republic Bank and members of General Atlantic.
The COVID Retraining and Recovery (CORE) Fund, set up by SoLa Impact’s non-profit affiliate, SoLa I Can Foundation, will provide up to 200 scholarships to South LA Residents that have been laid-off or furloughed due to COVID-19. It will specifically focus on enabling vocational degrees in healthcare and technology in an effort to create jobs and pathways to economic advancement for South LA’s predominantly Black and Latinx community. For more information on resources available and how to apply for a scholarship, please visit www.solaimpact.com/core-fund.
Ms. Winfrey’s Charitable Foundation searched for community organizations to best support South Los Angeles during the pandemic and that helped address systemic inequality and social justice in these communities. “As I continue to seek out ways to support underserved communities, I was struck by the unique multi-layered approach that SoLa’s I Can Foundation took to affect real and sustainable change in Los Angeles,” said Oprah Winfrey.
As part of the initiative, SoLa I Can Foundation partnered with two other non-profits, SEE-LA and Watts Healthcare Corporation, to establish “South LA Forward” to address the urgent needs of the community including food insecurity, access to healthcare, and economic disparity.
“We were incredibly honored to be selected by the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation,” stated Sherri Francois, the Executive Director of SoLa Impact’s I Can Foundation. “Via the CORE Fund, we will be able to truly change the trajectory of hundreds of lives. In addition to scholarships, the SoLa I Can team and our partners will be providing mentorship, coaching, tracking and ultimately job placement for the CORE Scholars. Orpah Winfrey, Jimmy Iovine, the Merrills and several other donors not only gave their financial resources, but added insight, energy and passion to help catapult our initiative.”
Martin Muoto, CEO of SoLa Impact, and a leading social impact investor in communities of color, added: “We quickly recognized that COVID-19 would have a disproportionate impact on the black and brown communities in Los Angeles, thus we launched the CORE Fund. We believe addressing economic inequality and racial injustice requires a wholistic approach – spanning education, housing and economic development – and are thrilled that Ms. Winfrey has been such a strong supporter in addressing these issues. We also want to recognize the early support of NaHCO3, the family office of Ashley and Marc Merrill, whose early support helped catalyze the CORE concept.”
Jimmy Iovine and Liberty Ross added, “After being introduced to South LA Forward, we were impressed by the team and its mission. We were thrilled to support SoLa’s CORE initiative and we love that our family can be directly involved.”
“This initiative’s focus on empowering opportunity through development and entrepreneurship aligns with Live Nation’s efforts and we’re proud our ongoing partnership can help drive this mission forward,” states Ali Harnell, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Women Nation.