Oprah Winfrey

by Radiyah Shakur

"Use what you have to run towards your best - that's how I now live my life" is a quote made by Oprah Winfrey in O Magazine, August 2003. Oprah Winfrey - day-time television guru, actress, producer, entrepreneur and the first African-American billionaire, is using her fame, influence and reach to positively affect the lives of under-privileged children and young-adults in the US and abroad.

Oprah WinfreyOprah is a strong supporter of education, believing it limits boundaries and self-restraints, as well opens doors of opportunities. She has also given millions toward providing better education for students who have the brains but not the bucks to pay for schooling. She created The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program which provides teacher training, gives money towards school supplies, and builds schools both in the United States and abroad. The program is committed to helping women, children and families, and offers scholarships to students committed to using their education to give back to their communities.

In 1991, drawing from her own experience of being abused and molested as a child, she initiated the National Child Protection Act when she testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee to establish a database of convicted child abusers. In 1993, President Clinton signed the ‘’Oprah Bill’’ into law, enabling law enforcement agencies and empowering concerned persons all over the nation access to the database.

In 1998 Winfrey created the aid organization Oprah’s Angel Network, which relies on gifts from the public, and encourages civic philanthropy. The money, which is donated by audience members, viewers and supporters all over the world, is donated to various non-profit organizations. All of the administrative costs to run the organization are personally covered by Oprah, meaning 100% of the money goes towards charitable projects. So far the Angel Network has raised $35million; helping to establish scholarships, schools, support women's shelters, build youth centers and homes.

Oprah has expanded her efforts in the past years, undertaking several projects in South Africa. She announced the establishment of the ‘’Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls - South Africa’’ in conjunction with South Africa’s Ministry of Education, scheduled for completion in 2007. She also introduced Christmas Kindness South Africa 2002, which gave gifts of food, school supplies, books, toys, sport shoes and clothing to 50,000 children in orphanages and in rural schools. In addition, 63 rural schools received new libraries and teacher training.

Winfrey is a partner in Oxygen Media, Inc. which is a 24 hour cable network channel that provides programming aimed at women. In 2000 Oprah's Angel Network began presenting a $100,000 "Use Your Life Award" to people who are using their lives to improve the lives of others. Oprah and her Angel Network have also donated $1million towards rebuilding after the Tsunami, and to numerous other charities committed to health, community, women, children and family endeavors. After seeing the devastation and desperate conditions that many Americans were suddenly left in following Hurricane Katrina, Oprah donated $10milllion of her own money to rebuild homes and give Katrina victims a new lease on life.

Since July 2005 the Oprah Winfrey for Nobel Peace Prize has been gaining momentum signatures of support to send to Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter. More details on support campaign can be found on www. oprah4peaceprize.org


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