NET WORTH: $550 million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Singer-Songwriter
FUNDING AREAS: Environment, Disaster Relief & Humanitarian Causes, Youth & Human Services
OVERVIEW: Jimmy Buffett's charitable vehicle, Singing for Change, primarily funds projects that serve children and families, the environment, and disenfranchised groups. A lot of this work takes place in the Southern United States. As well, Singing for Change is quite transparent, with a helpful website, complete with grants information and clear guidelines. A key element in getting selected for a grant is community engagement. Singing for Change has disbursed some $11 million in grants through the years.
BACKGROUND: Jimmy Buffett was born in 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended Catholic high school. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi and then moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a country singer. After working with a cover band, Buffett landed his first record contract in 1970. That same year, he released his folk-country debut, Down to Earth. Buffett moved to Key West in the early 1970s, signed with ABC/Dunhill and released White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean in 1973. Buffett's sixth album, 1977's Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, contains his enduring hit, Margaritaville. Buffett is also owner of the Margaritaville restaurant chain.
ENVIRONMENT: Singing for Change grantees have included Growing Places Indy, which works to "cultivate wellness in the community through urban agriculture, food access and awareness and practices for healthy, sustainable living"; Harlem Grown, which "transforms abandoned community lots into accessible gardens in partnership with local public schools and the community"; Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Mobile Baykeeper, and Dominican Organic Agriculture Movement. Some of this grantmaking involves environmental education, including EarthEcho International, whose mission is to "empower youth to take action that protects and restores our water planet." G
DISASTER RELIEF & HUMANITARIAN WORK: Regional staple Jimmy Buffett has supported the Southern United States and beyond. He's supported places like Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA). Singing for Change recently completed its four-year commitment to funding infrastructure rebuilding in Haiti, but states that it hopes to continuesupporting "similar agriculture projects to spur self-sufficiency in areas that need technical assistance and some small grants." Money has also gone to globalbike inc., a "a grassroots nonprofit that supplies bicycles in third world countries to health care workers in poverty-stricken areas," and several outfits that have supported recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. One of these is Just the Right Attitude, which has helped evacuees and displaced homeowners. Buffett has also supported Points of Light Institute/HandsOn Network, working toward disaster relief and preparedness. HandsOn Network includes 13 HandsOn Action Centers that are currently serving Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana, all of which were impacted by the oil spill.
YOUTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Grantees have included Young Eisner Scholars; S.A.Y. Detroit, which helps the "poor and homeless of Motor City with shelter, medical care, job training and transitional housing" ; Take Stock In Children, which helps low-income youth go to college; and WINGS for Kids, a "social and emotional education program" for youth.
LOOKING FORWARD: Assorted sums have also gone to arts outfits such as St. Bart's Music Festival, and toward health outfits such as the American Cancer Society. In addition to Singing for Change, Buffett might have other more direct ways of giving that aren't reflected on the charity's website or on recent 990s.