This story first appeared in the August 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network -- which works to ensure safe schools for students -- will give DreamWorks Animation co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, its Lifetime Achievement Award at the group's eighth annual Respect Awards on Oct. 5 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
"My wife was a grade-school teacher in the South Bronx for a half dozen years, and that's a big part of the reason why these programs are important to us. She has a great appreciation for what happens in classrooms," says Katzenberg in an interview with THR. "GLSEN is a remarkable organization that has been a pioneer in raising awareness about bias-based bullying and discrimination."
White Collar star Matt Bomer and his partner, Slate PR's Simon Halls, will be honored by GLSEN with its Inspiration Award. "Both Matt and I are incredibly impressed by the great work that GLSEN does for kids who might normally not have somewhere to turn. Even in this day and age, LGBT kids still need all the support that we can give them. We are both very humbled to be receiving this honor," Halls tells THR. Bomer and Halls are the parents of three sons, Kit, Walker and Henry.
The awards recognize people, companies, students and educators who make a difference in furthering diversity, inclusion and safety in schools. GLSEN, which was established in 1990, provides research, educational resources, public policy advocacy and educator training initiatives to help create school environments that are safe for all students.
“They are a really important organization who have been doing this now for twenty years," says Katzenberg. "Having these programs that are making people think before they act, before they open their mouths and say hurtful things, that's what GLSEN is about. We've always felt that gay rights and particularly in the community that we live in is a very high priority."
The Respect Awards event is co-chaired by Entertainment Tonight executive producer Linda Bell Blue, film producers Bonnie Curtis and Donald De Line, interior designer David Phoenix, Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger and Chip Sullivan, head of publicity at DreamWorks studios.
Katzenberg also spoke about his company's $250,000 charitable donation on July 30 to downtown L.A. arts education nonprofit Inner-City Arts. The grant will provided continued support over five years of the organization's DreamWorks Animation Academy, giving inner-city students instruction in digital media, filmmaking and graphic design. The Animation Academy was established in 2008 with an initial gift of $500,000. Through the affiliation, students also take part in media arts field trips to the DreamWorks Animation campus. Inner-City Arts has provided no-cost arts education to 150,000 students since its founding in 1989.
"It's a beacon of hope right in the middle of Skid Row. The campus is truly beautiful with its modern design, garden walkways and state-of-the-art classrooms. The organization's efforts to carry the torch for arts education have been incredibly successful and inspiring to both students and parents. The concept of a career in the arts is difficult to grasp for many of these kids, and Inner-City Arts is shining a bright light to broaden their view of themselves and of the world." says Katzenberg. The exec recently met at the studio with 40 students from the program. "Their enthusiasm was incredible," he says.