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When American Idol announced last spring that for every vote cast after their April 24-25 special broadcast “Idol Gives Back,” sponsors would make donations to the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF), no one expected it to result in over $75 million.

CPEF is distributing the funds through organisations that benefit children in the US and Africa. In the States, Save the Children, Feeding America, Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America and Children's Health Fund will be the recipients for approved project proposals. In Africa, $6 million has already been donated to each of five organisations for projects that focus on health and education.

Save the Children, UNICEF, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, each with a very strong presence throughout Africa, are grateful to the Idol Gives Back campaign. While Save the Children will continue to address preventable deaths from things like diarrhea and pneumonia across the continent, UNICEF is using the money in Rwandan schools to provide free meals and ‘catch-up’ programs to get drop-outs out of the working fields and back into the classrooms. The Global Fund is supporting anti-AIDS performances in South Africa, where in some areas HIV infection rates in youth are actually on the decrease. The sharp and critical plays on drugs, sex and AIDS are more powerful than a classroom lecture.

The CPEF donation is welcome support where malaria claims a child every 30 seconds. “It makes a massive difference,” says Martin Edlund of Malaria No More, who, along with Nothing But Nets is distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and also works on anti-measles, AIDS and tuberculosis initiatives. Intelligent projects like these are not hand outs, but efforts to help get people’s lives back into their own hands. And they ensure the most benefit directly to those they’re intended for. “You can’t put a bed net in a Swiss bank account.”

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