Mystery Donor: Did Prince Secretly Give Big for Oakland?

The world stood still when news of pop icon Prince’s death began to flood the headlines on April 21, 2016. Months later, Prince is still making news, but now for something entirely different.

Rumor has it that Prince may have donated $34 million to the San Francisco Foundation, a major local force in racial and economic equity in the Bay Area. SF Sounds recently speculated that Prince was the anonymous donor who gave $34 million last summer to make the Bay Area a better place. (We had guessed the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.)

Related: Guessing Game: Who's the Anonymous Donor That Just Showered Millions on Oakland?

A CNN political commentator and Prince’s close friend, Van Jones, made the following statement that’s leading folks in the Bay Area to believe that Prince might just be their guardian angel:

He did not want it to be known publicly, but I’m going to say it because the world needs to know that it wasn’t just the music. The music was one way he tried to help the world. But he was helping every day of his life. There are people who have solar panels on their houses right now in Oakland, California that they don’t know Prince paid for them.

Throughout his life, Prince was extremely generous, and we’re just learning about much of this generosity now from those close to him. Some of the Bay Area groups that have acknowledged Prince’s past support include Black Girls Code, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Hack the Hood, and #YesWeCode.

This leads us to believe that the area’s youth and STEM education may have been of importance to the musician in this region, and perhaps elsewhere, as well. TSFF’s $34 million donation flowed to numerous youth development and STEM education causes in the region, as well as job creation, affordable housing, and immigration legal needs.

Although Prince was from Minnesota, the Bay Area had a profound impact on his musical career. He recorded his first studio album in the Bay Area, and he died just weeks after playing three sold-out shows in Oakland.

We may never know for sure what Bay Area projects and programs Prince paid for. TSFF is bound by a promise of anonymity that won’t be broken, and Prince often gave charitable donations through proxies and close friends. But details about other unrelated contributions could very well trickle out over time. And we’ll sure be interested to hear about them, if and when they do.

Related: This Community Foundation Just Got Edgier. Will Others Follow?