Stacey Snider, Octavia Spencer Celebrate City Year's Fifth Anniversary
The fundraiser raised $1.5 million toward keeping kids in school.
The fifth annual City Year Spring Break: Destination Education brought tweens, teens and celebrities together festival-style Saturday night on the Sony Studios commissary lawn. The annual fundraiser, hosted by talent including Aaron and Lauren Paul, Octavia Spencer and Liam Hemsworth, raised $1.5 million toward the organization where members mentor students to stay on the path to graduation.
"This organization spoke to me because education was my own way out of poverty,” said Spencer. “My mom pushed me to do well in school, but many kids need a role model or mentor not to mention academic support to help them succeed in school and beyond."
Spencer was introduced to the organization by 20th Century Fox co-chair Stacey Snider, who serves as an event co-chair, as do a slew of executives including NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and NBC communications EVP Chip Sullivan.
"The thing that keeps me coming back year after year is the work that the core members do," Snider told The Hollywood Reporter. "I’m inspired by them. I think everyone is entitled to a great education, and there shouldn’t be the inequality, inexperience that we see."
Many of the 275 City Year AmeriCorps members flooded the stage in their signature red and yellow jackets to pump up the crowd with their high energy that drives the organization. Member Kevin Crouch spoke of his experiences helping a troubled student at Normandie Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles — an experience which has since inspired Crouch to pursue his masters degree at Stanford in education policy.
The evening was full of various eats and activities by sponsors including People, ABC's Dancing With the Stars and JCPenney. Black-ish star Marsai Martin tried her interview skills at the E! Pop of Culture booth, while Jane the Virgin's Justin Baldoni scored goals with kids at the L.A. Galaxy soccer area.
Jasmine V performed as an opener for Carly Rae Jepsen, who invited kids in the audience to surround her onstage as she closed out the evening with "Call Me, Maybe" and "I Really Like You."
Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, a constant City Year supporter, posed for selfies for fans and emphasized how education plays a large role in any child's life, including his own.
"The reason I’m acting is because of my teacher in school, Nancy Link,” Paul told THR. “She was the one who encouraged me to run to Los Angeles and chase after my dreams."
Nick Jonas and Olivia Culpo and former Gossip Girl stars Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick also made appearances. Russell Simmons caught up with Devon Franklin and Meagan Good during the bash.
"It’s good to have people to look up to," added Paul. "Especially in the school system. We all hope to have that one teacher we can look up to and remember.”