Rapper Travis Scott, famous for hip hop hits like “SICKO MODE” and “Highest in the Room” as well as his wacky concerts, has been exercising his philanthropic muscles.
In October Scott tweeted that he would pay five predominantly black college students for a semester. He chose some of those supported via social networks and a month later he started his Cactus Jack Foundation charity. The foundation partnered with his city, Houston, to distribute 50,000 free meals to residents during the freeze that hit Texas in February.
For his efforts, the Grammy-nominated rapper, whose real name is Jacques Webster, was one of the five recipients announced last week of the first RAD Awards – Red Carpet Advocacy – for positive impact, which recognize cultural figures who “inspire purpose.” at your job. It joins actors Charlize Theron, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Laverne Cox and Margot Robbie who were also awarded.
Luxury Stores on Amazon partnered with RAD, an agency that creates campaigns to support charity causes, to secure donations to five organizations chosen by celebrities. The amounts awarded were not disclosed.
Luxury Stores also created an online store, RAD Impact Edit, to support organizations. Until Friday this week, RAD said, all Amazon earnings generated in the store will be donated to the organizations.
Scott’s foundation, which will receive contributions from Amazon, plans to award more scholarships to historically black college students with those funds. On the other hand, the rapper, who is the father of Stormi along with Kylie Jenner, is working on a project in Houston that will operate a design teaching center for young people.
The Associated Press recently chatted with Scott about these actions and his work. The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
Why did you decide to launch your foundation at the end of last year and how are you selecting the students who will receive the scholarships?
SCOTT: I felt that sharing inspiration and sharing knowledge is the key. It is one of the main goals. My paternal grandfather was dean at Prairie View A&M University. My grandmother taught at Prairie View, and my dad and all my uncles went to Prairie View, and I was supposed to go there. But I went to another school (the University of Texas at San Antonio). That desire for education was always within me through my grandparents, my dad and my mom.
I went to college and I wish I had finished, but I didn’t. For other reasons, whether it was financial, he had a different kind of drive. But I knew that if certain things had been resolved, I probably would have stayed. My grandfather died not long ago. I wanted to use whatever power I have to maintain her legacy in education and the knowledge that she has inspired in me to help the next person who wants to be educated and not be separated from education for nothing.
But the scholarship is only one aspect of the foundation. When we gave the last scholarships the new students could not even go to campus because of the pandemic. They couldn’t enjoy life on campus, and their parents probably couldn’t work. I just wanted to help. The connection between that and my grandfather, and helping some of these guys who come from the same community where I come from is important. Especially some of those guys who go to historically black colleges. My sister goes to Howard University, and my brother goes to Prairie View A&M.
Many people would accomplish many things if they did not face difficulties. So every time you can help and take that burden off of them it’s amazing.
How many more scholarships do you plan to award with the new funding that the Luxury Stores foundation at Amazon and its association with the RAD awards are receiving?
SCOTT: I want to give as many as possible this year. As the years go by, and as we get more opportunities to give scholarships, we definitely want to do that. We hope we can double or triple each year.
We are also about to start creating a space for people to create products, imagine ideas and hear from other creative people. They can teach on the spot and do different things and maybe even help other people’s projects.
You also partnered with New Schools Parsons School of Design in New York, and My Brother’s Keeper, Houston – an initiative to reduce inequality of opportunity for minority children and youth in Houston – to bring Parsons design programs to the city. Why did they want to bring that show to your hometown?
SCOTT: In Houston, or in cities like Houston, we don’t have high schools like Parsons where people can translate those ideas. You have to go to New York, London or Paris. But there are people in the state of Texas, in the south of the center of the country, who are creators but do not have that way. With this program, high school or college kids can start learning those designs early, when they may not have the resources to go to New York. Fortunately, Parsons partnered with me to create this dream and establish it in Houston to help more creatives to emerge from my hometown.
Forbes once called you “the charmer of corporate America” for your successful endorsement deals with companies like McDonalds. What is the momentum behind it?
SCOTT: I don’t see this as sponsorship but as partnerships. The main thing is that what I do with Cactus Jack, with my team, is to connect with these brands instead of having them come to propose things to us. It’s about bringing about change and helping to inspire companies to do different things that really connect with those who call consumers but I call humans, true fans.
You will headline Rolling Loud in Miami this July, one of the first large music festivals to be scheduled after many of them were postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think it will be?
SCOTT: I can’t wait. I’m excited and ready to take a turn on stage and see the madness again. Oh my God. There are so many songs that I haven’t even been able to perform live.
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