Think Like a Philanthropist: A Funnyman Steps Up for Education

photo: Featureflash Photo Agency/shutterstock

photo: Featureflash Photo Agency/shutterstock

Kevin Hart started in the professional comic circuit in the late 1990s. Hart honed his craft in clubs in his hometown of Philadelphia, as well as in New York and Los Angeles. These days, Hart is a major Hollywood phenom, with more than 40 film credits to his name in just a short time. He's starred in movies like Think Like a Man, Top Five, Central Intelligence and Ride Along. For all his efforts, the hardworking Hollywood actor is worth $120 million by some estimates.

When the actor isn't on the big screen, or roasting athletes at NBA All-Star Weekend, Hart also engages in charity work. Last fall on Facebook, Hart announced that he was launching his Help From the Hart Charity to help youth gain access to educational opportunities. And he ran in last year's New York City Marathon to raise $300,000 toward these efforts alongside celebrities like Tiki Barber. 

Last month, Kevin Hart joined forces with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) to help 18 students earn a college degree. Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with the Help From the Hart Charity and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight cities attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

That’s some serious money, and yet another counterpoint to the familiar argument that Hollywood stars don’t engage in major giving, but only lend their names to causes. In fact, cash gifts from entertainment leaders aren’t just coming with greater frequency; they’re getting bigger.

By the way, this isn't the first time Hart has supported UNCF. In 2015, the actor gave a $100,000 scholarship gift to support four deserving college students. Hart said, "Education and knowledge are powerful... I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs." While Hart's charity doesn't seem to have a website and keeps a low profile, it's clear that education is an early focus of his giving.

Consider that Hart himself was raised by a single mother while his father was in and out of jail and struggled with drug addiction. Hart has been open about his struggles in childhood and uses it as material in his comedy. "The jokes," he's said of his stand-up, "come from a real experience." Given this background, it makes sense that Hart would focus on this cause.

Apart from education, Hart has also been associated with charities like Alzheimer's Association, Cats Care, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. And it’s hard to imagine he want give more in Philadelphia, given his roots there. While Kevin Hart takes up residence in the Los Angeles area, the City of Brotherly Love could loom large in his future giving.

Hart’s is still in the earliest phases of his philanthropy. But he’s another wealthy Hollywood star who could be primed to give quite a bit of money in the coming years.