Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, better known as Sting for the wasp-colored sweaters he used to wear, is an English singer, actor, songwriter and philanthropist best known as the front man of The Police and for his iconic songs "Roxanne" and "Every Breath You Take."
The son of a milkman and a hairdresser, he’s a self-made man with a net worth estimated at $300 million. Despite turning 64 later this year, the 16-time Grammy Award winner is not slowing down; he’s currently on a European tour. Sting is not planning on bequeathing his wealth to his six children. “I certainly don’t want to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks,” Sting told the Daily Mail. “They have to work.”
Instead, much of Sting’s passion and fortune are going to the Rainforest Foundation and Rainforest Fund which he and his wife Trudie Styler founded in 1989, alarmed at the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and its horrific impact on the indigenous peoples who live there.
Originally known as the Rainforest Foundation, the charity split into four organizations: Rainforest Foundation UK, which favors forest preservation in Africa; Rainforest Foundation US, which looks out for the Americas; Rainforest Foundation Norway, which spends its time on Southeast Asia; and the Rainforest Fund, which feeds money to its sister groups. Its most significant fundraising event is a biennial benefit concert in Carnegie Hall. Last year’s April show had a stellar line up. Sting and Trudie Styler were joined on stage by Kevin Spacey, Stephen Stills, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Renee Fleming, Dionne Warwick and others.
Sting's ability to make that event happen underscores a key point about celebrities: They don't just have their own money; they can leverage their fame and relationships to raise tons of outside money.
Tropical rainforests are the oldest and most complex land-based ecosystems on Earth, containing half of the Earth's animal species and two-thirds of its plant species. Rainforests absorb carbon dioxide, helping to slow global warming. They also store water like a sponge, drawing it from the forest floor and releasing it back into the air. According to the Alliance for Water network, deforestation of the Amazon is a contributing factor to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s severe water shortage, which has resulted in many of the city's 11 million residents living without running, fresh water.
The Rainforest Foundation's approach to preserving rainforests is premised on the idea that indigenous people who live there are the best stewards of the status quo. The foundation's first major initiative was to help the Kayapo people protect their lands in the Amazon, which produced legal recognition and the delineation of an area of more than 6.7 million acres.
The support is targeted to aid indigenous organizations and local non-governmental organizations in the fight for their rights, preserving their forests, boosting their organizational capacity and developing their technical skills. The organizations now work in more than 20 Asian, African, Central American and South American countries, protecting 28 million acres of forest.
Sting is one of a number of philanthropists contributing to rainforest preservation, including Gordon Moore, Larry Linden, Jerry Moss, and Leonardo DiCaprio through his support of the World Wildlife Fund.