Cactus Flower Oscar winner

Which Oscar winners have far-reaching foundations?

Oscar statuettes. It’s Oscar season, so Devex put together a list of actors and actresses who have made a name for themselves in film — as well as through their own foundations and nonprofit organizations. Photo by: Prayitno / CC BY

Type a celebrity’s name along with the word “foundation” into a Google search and the results might turn up concealing makeup rather than evidence of their charitable work. Outside of platforms focused on philanthropic news, even details of well-known celebrity humanitarian Angelina Jolie and husband Brad Pitt’s foundation are often limited to a quick mention on a celebrity news site.

But if you can’t find a dedicated website detailing your favorite celebrity’s charitable giving, it doesn’t mean they aren’t sharing their fortune. Many make monetary donations to causes they believe in, while others engage in grant making through their own foundations, such as The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which provides clear guidance on how to apply for grants, or Paul Newman’s Own Foundation that states all funding applications are “by invitation only.”

Some celebrity charities, meanwhile, may have a web presence, but with a focus limited to a few countries, a specific cause or a very vague mission.

This Oscar season, Devex has filtered down the list to look at Academy Award-winning actors and actresses who aren’t just making monetary donations, but are very much involved in their foundations or charities’ work and whose reach goes beyond their homelands.

1. Sean Penn

Academy Award Best Actor for “Mystic River” (2004) and “Milk” (2009)
Nonprofit: J/P Haitian Relief Organization or J/P HRO

There’s no shortage of NGOs and celebrities that sent help to Haiti when the 7.0-magnitude quake ravaged the country in 2010 and left millions homeless. Sean Penn was one of them, having largely been moved by what he saw on television — thousands of injured, including children, being operated on without pain medicine. He remembered his son, Hopper, who at that time had just recovered from a head injury, he told various media. So he set up the J/P Haitian Relief Organization — initially with Bosnian-born philanthropist Diana Jenkins — a few days following the disaster. But unlike other celebrities who helped from afar, Penn headed to Haiti armed with a few aid supplies and volunteers. Almost six years on, Penn’s nonprofit continues to work in the country, from relocating those left in the camps, rebuilding and piloting quake-proof homes, providing medical support and running several community development programs in areas in the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to the J/P HRO website. The actor’s annual celebrity fundraising gala for Haiti in January reportedly raised $7 million.

2. Forest Whitaker

Academy Award Best Actor for “The Last King of Scotland” (2007)

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