Giving Back: 3 Celebrities Who Founded Organizations That Make An Impact

Celebrities like Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, and Matt Damon have founded organizations that continue to fight for a just society, a healthier environment, and a brighter future for the youth. 

Celebrities are more than just the roles they play or the glamorous personas they take. Many of them understand their place of privilege, and seek to help those in need through their respective organizations. Christian Bale, for example, recently made headlines for a heart-warming project that he hopes will change the lives of foster children in California. Meanwhile, celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Matt Damon have also been working to fight for a healthier environment and a more just society in their own ways. 

Below are the organizations that these three celebrities have set up, and how they’ve been able to make a positive impact on the world: 

READ ALSO: Making A Difference: 6 Hollywood Celebrities And The Causes They Champion Through Their Foundations

Christian Bale

Christian Bale has starred in numerous roles that have garnered him critical acclaim, including his performances as the caped crusader Batman in Christopher Nolan’s legendary film trilogy, which many people remember him for. Though Bale only acted as the dashing, enigmatic philanthropist Bruce Wayne, he’s certainly doing his part in making the world a better place in real life. Recently, the 50-year-old actor announced his plans to build a village made up of 12 foster homes, two studio apartments, and a 7,000-square foot community center for foster children in California’s city of Palmdale, reports Catherine Shoard of The Guardian.

Christian Bale in 2019
Christian Bale in 2019/Photo by Harald Krichel via Wikimedia Commons

Bale, along with his wife Sibi Blažić, collaborators, and local government officials, broke ground in the village’s development site on February 8, and also held a formal ceremony for the occasion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The entire project costs around $22 million and will launch in April 2025, writes CBS News. This is the culmination of a 16-year endeavor for Bale, who aims to keep foster siblings together under the same roof through the village. It’s been a cause that Bale has kept close to his heart, and one he weathered through despite the long process. 

Christian Bale (middle right) with his wife Sibi Blažić (middle left), LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger (left), and Mayor Austin Bishop (right)
Christian Bale (middle right) with his wife Sibi Blažić (middle left), LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger (left), and Mayor Austin Bishop (right)/Photo via Instagram @supervisorkathrynbarger

“To his credit, through all sorts of challenges, COVID and everything else, he never gave up,” shares Tim McCormick, Executive Director of Together California—the foster care organization that Bale founded with longtime friend and UCLA doctor Eric Esrailian—with CBS News

An Advocacy Years in the Making

Bale started his deep involvement with the foster care system, specifically California’s, when The Dark Knight premiered in theaters in 2008. It was also the time when he and his wife’s daughter was three years old, reports Andrew Dalton of the Associated Press. So, one can imagine the young father’s pain upon discovering that Los Angeles County had a high concentration of foster children. 

Christian Bale at the ground breaking event of Together California's Foster Care Center
Christian Bale at the ground breaking event of Together California’s Foster Care Center/Photo via Instagram @supervisorkathrynbarger

So Bale started Together California with his wife, as well as co-founder and longtime friend Eric Esrailian, a clinical professor of medicine at UCLA, reports Mike Snider of USA Today. Since then, the  organization has been hard at work raising funds to build the village, a vision that’s becoming more of a reality day by day. Of course, it’s not an endeavor that happens overnight, as Bale has learned over the years.

“I didn’t think it was going to take that long. I had a very naive idea about kind of getting a piece of land and then, bringing kids in and the brothers and sisters living together and sort of singing songs like the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music,” Bale tells Andrew Dalton of the Associated Press. “[But] it’s way more complex. These are people’s lives. And we need to be able to have them land on their feet when they age out. There’s so much involved in this.”

For the Children

Bale is a staunch advocate of keeping foster children who are siblings together; it’s a concept that fuels the entirety of his decades-long project. “With our Together California model, [the village] is something absolutely new, totally transformative and something completely needed,” he explains to Chris Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter. “Imagine the absolute pain and the trauma of losing your parents or being torn from your parents, and then losing your brothers and sisters on top of that, that’s no way to treat kids.” 

Bale’s plan is to have siblings live under the same roof in the foster homes. The village itself can house around 70 to 80 children in total, writes Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter. Meanwhile, the studio apartments are meant to help children “transition into independent living,” according to Catherine Shoard of The Guardian

A model of Together California's village for foster children
A model of Together California’s village for foster children/Photo via Instagram @supervisorkathrynbarger

As with any monumental project, Together California’s village required the financial support to become a reality. Thankfully, a number of generous donors had given funds to the cause, including Bale’s longtime agent Patrick Whitesell and Academy Award-winner Leonard DiCaprio, adds Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter

Bale and his family also provided financial support to the cause, yet the actor’s actions didn’t stop there. Rather than being just the celebrity face behind the effort, Bale went out of his way to search for the right location for the village, performing oculars until all his criteria were met.

It Runs In the Family

Bale has always supported a number of charitable causes, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, according to a profile from Empire. This altruism is something that runs in the family, and one that Bale credits to an upbringing with his generous father, David Bale. 

“We were always having other people coming and living in our house who didn’t have homes, etcetera. That’s just the guy that he was,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. He also talks about how his father would often bring him to protests when he was younger, and how much he admired David for the compassion he held for others. His father also married activist-journalist Gloria Marie Steinem later in life, giving Bale another parental figure who paved the way for a better society, having been a significant player in the fight for women’s rights in the 20th century. 

A young Christian Bale in 1988
A young Christian Bale in 1988/Photo by Towpilot via Wikimedia Commons

Together California’s upcoming foster village will be the first of its kind in the state, according to Catherine Shoard of The Guardian. Hopefully, once it launches in 2025, it’ll be a catalyst for helping more children find loving homes and brighter futures. 

“It’s something that is incredibly satisfying for me, and I want to be involved every step of the way,” Bale shares in a statement, according to CBS News. “Maybe this is the first one, and maybe this is the only one, and that would be great. But I’m quietly hoping that there’ll be many of these.”

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon is also making an impact through the power of media with her company Hello Sunshine, which strives to put women’s narratives at the forefront of everything they do. Its official website writes: “Hello Sunshine aims to broaden perspective and empower women by giving them authorship, inspiring agency, and creating a platform to help them shape culture and the world around them.”

Reese Witherspoon during a reading of her children's book, "Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise"
Reese Witherspoon during a reading of her children’s book, “Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise”/Photo via Instagram @reesewitherspoon

After all, representation carries power, as it carries ideas of a more inclusive world and can deeply influence those who rarely find themselves to be the heroes of their own stories. As CEO of Hello Sunshine Sarah Harden puts it, “Storytelling can shift culture, and change the way women walk through the world.”

The company has produced a number of critically-acclaimed and popular pieces that champion women’s voices, including 2019’s Truth Be Told, 2022’s Where the Crawdads Sing, 2023’s The Last Thing He Told Me, and 2023’s Daisy Jones & The Six. Witherspoon also hosts The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston, further paving the way for women-led talk shows. 

Matt Damon 

Matt Damon’s work extends beyond the red carpet as well, as his trips to developing countries opened his eyes to a world beyond his own. Acknowledging his privilege and wanting to help communities suffering from the global water crisis, Damon founded the H20 Africa Foundation in 2006. 

Matt Damon wanted to find solutions to help the water crisis in various developing nations like Africa
Matt Damon wanted to find solutions to help the water crisis in various developing nations like Africa/Photo from the Water.Org website

His foundation not only raises awareness of the still-existing water crisis, but also strives to bring safe and accessible water to families in Africa. Damon doesn’t work alone, as he also enlisted the expertise and help of Gary White, an engineer who specializes in water and sanitation. Together, they combined their respective initiatives and formed Water.org in 2009, and continue to find solutions to provide clean water to those in need. 

Water.Org has helped 60 million people gain access to clean water over the years
Water.Org has helped 60 million people gain access to clean water over the years/Photo from the Water.Org website

Damon is more than a face to the name, as he takes a hands-on approach to the organization’s affairs, involving himself in strategy development and engaging in meetings with institutions like the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. According to Water.Org’s official website, the organization has given 60 million people access to safe water, something that helped build their resilience during the COVID pandemic. 

Banner photo by Andrea Cangioli via Wikimedia Commons; Feature photo by Harald Krichel via Wikimedia Commons.

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