Philanthropy: The agencies
EmptyHere is a sampling of philanthropic activity on the part of Hollywood agencies.
Creative Artists Agency
Since the Creative Artists Agency Foundation was established in 1996, it has taken a multilevel approach to philanthropy. Employee volunteers travel to local high schools where they mentor students and pitch in on school beautification projects. The agency's assistants also have their own charitable arm, the Assistant Task Force, which throws an annual Young Hollywood fundraiser that introduces their peers to philanthropy. The foundation also guides CAA clients who want to donate some star-studded sweat equity; artists who've worked with the foundation include Katharine McPhee, whose McPhee Outreach supports the Lollipop Theater Network, which entertains hospitalized children; and Drew Barrymore, who was recently appointed an ambassador against hunger for the United Nations World Food Program.
Endeavor Agency celebrated its fifth anniversary in March 2000 by launching the Endeavor Foundation, which is headed by its chairman, Endeavor partner Richard Weitz, and its president, Michael Donkis. The foundation's three-pronged mission includes direct grants, employee volunteerism and partnering with nonprofits to help with strategic planning and fundraising. The foundation's grant partners include a variety of youth-oriented charities, such as Inner-City Arts, which gives Los Angeles students hands-on training in visual arts, dance, ceramics, animation, music and drama; Streetlights, which provides job training to disadvantaged youth interested in the entertainment industry; and L.A. Youth, the country's largest newspaper written by and for teenagers. "When we created the Endeavor Foundation, we wanted it to become an important part of our agency's culture," Weitz says.
International Creative Management
In May, the newly formed International Creative Management Foundation announced its partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is aimed at giving performing arts programs a shot in the arm by renovating auditoriums and theaters at eight area high schools. The first in line for an upgrade is the Dorsey High School auditorium; ICM and LAUSD will each finance half of the planned $1 million facelift. "Beyond our financial commitment, we hope to create volunteer and mentoring opportunities for ICM employees and clients, as well as partner with other entertainment companies to set up student internship and employment positions within the industry," says ICM chairman and CEO Jeff Berg. "This will be a sustained effort on behalf of our agency."
United Talent Agency
In 2004, the United Talent Agency brought in Museum of Television & Radio development director Rene Jones to head its new foundation aimed at creating a closer connection between employees and their community. Agency trainees spend a week getting hands-on experience at nonprofit agencies that help terminally ill children and work for wetlands preservation. Agents mentor students at University High School in West Los Angeles and read to children at Canfield Elementary School. Assistants work on community projects at children's hospitals and the Westside Community Children's Center. The agency also sends a team to Habitat for Humanity's annual Build-A-Thon and organizes company-wide clothing donations for Chrysalis, which helps the homeless find work. "We always look at ways that we as a company can get together and really impact an organization," Jones says.
William Morris Agency
Sept. 19 is volunteer day at all of the William Morris Agency's offices, when employees fan out to support various nonprofits on the company dime. The agency has partnered with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Young Storytellers, which sends mentors to schools in low-income areas to help kids write and perform their own mini-screenplays. Agents also have worked with Hollywood Arts, a nonprofit that teaches art classes to homeless teenagers and young adults. William Morris looks for smaller nonprofits that can really use their help, according to Michelle Kleinert, executive director of the Lastfogel Foundation, established in 1972 by former WMA president and chairman Abe Lastfogel, who left his money to William Morris upon his death in 1984. Says Kleinert, "The (nonprofits) we get involved with can't help themselves."
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