NET WORTH: NA
CAUSES: Humanitarian, Global Development, Health, Education
OVERVIEW: Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt have donated around $30 million through their foundation over the past decade, mostly to health, education, conservation, and sustainable development efforts. The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Project in Cambodia has received the bulk of their support, though they have also supported a variety of conservation efforts in developing countries, education in war-torn areas, and criminal justice efforts.
BACKGROUND: Jolie grew up in a Hollywood family, the daughter of actor John Voight, and went on to become an academy award-winner and one of the highest paid actresses in the movie business. Both she and husband Brad Pitt have accumulated significant wealth as a result of their careers. Which means they aren't only able to draw attention to causes as global stars, but can give directly at a significant level.
HUMANITARIAN: After shooting Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in war-torn Cambodia, Jolie became interested in humanitarian and refugee issues. Contacting the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, she began visiting refugee camps all over the world, and soon felt compelled to make a $1 million donation to UNHCR. That same year, she was appointed a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, and after serving in that position for more than a decade, was promoted to Special Envoy to the High Commissioner. She helped found Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which provides free legal aid to unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings across the U.S, and has served as a co-chair of the Clinton Global Initiative’s Education Partnership for Children of Conflict since it started in 2007. She has also been a supporter of the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, Human Rights Watch, and other rights causes. In 2013, for example, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation made a $74,525 grant to Lawyers for Justice in Libya.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & CONSERVATION: While the conditions in Cambodia inspired Jolie to use her status to raise awareness for the plight of refugees, she also got involved on a more personal level, deciding to adopt a Cambodian child. Much of her work in global development and conservation was born from this decision; she initially purchased a house in Cambodia to connect her son with his cultural heritage. When she discovered that poachers were threatening endangered animals in the wild areas adjacent to her home, she added 100,000 acres to the 100 acres she’d initially bought, and turned it into a wildlife preserve, hiring rangers to keep out the poachers. After visiting a Millennium Village in Western Kenya in 2005, she decided to create the first Millennium Village Project in Asia, dubbed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Project. Connecting previously isolated villages, and building schools and factories, she has helped employ more than 6,000 Cambodians. (See a good description of the Maddox-Jolie Project's activities during a recent year near the end of the 2013 990 filed by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.) Jolie has also been known to fund conservation efforts in places like Namibia.
HEALTH: In honor of two of their children, Jolie and Pitt have established health centers in Cambodia and Ethiopia to treat children with AIDS and tuberculosis. In addition, Jolie is well-known for having a double mastectomy after testing positive for a gene mutation that makes her highly susceptible to the aggressive forms of breast and ovarian cancer that killed her mother, grandmother, and aunt. She has spoken out about the importance of genetic testing, and hopes her efforts will result in more widely available, and cost-effective testing methods. To this end, she’s worked with Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Movement.
LOOKING FORWARD: Connections to Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Namibia suggest we may see a larger presence there in the coming years, but Jolie and Pitt have a history of funding education, conservation and basic human needs in plenty of other places as well, including Bosnia, Libya, and Afghanistan. As much as Jolie has done, it should be remembered that she's still in the prime of her career, limiting how much time and energy she can devote to her causes. Down the line, we expect to see even more philanthropic activity and more direct donations as Jolie draws on her significant personal fortune.