SEATTLE — Rihanna, known around the world as a style icon, pop-princess and beauty guru, emanates qualities reminiscent of the world’s most respected philanthropists. From the start of her career in 2006, she has devoted her spare time to revolutionizing education for girls in underdeveloped countries, actively engaged in combatting the stigma against AIDS, raising awareness for the global water crisis and promoting inclusivity. Below is the definitive timeline of Rihanna’s global philanthropic work.
Rihanna’s Global Philanthropic Timeline:
2006: Less than a year after Rihanna moved to the U.S. from Barbados, getting a record contract from Jay-Z’s Def Jam Label and releasing her hit single “Pon De Replay,” Rihanna founds the Believe Foundation. The Foundation aims to help children with terminal illness.
2008: Rihanna joins forces with H&M in a collaboration entitled “Fashion Against AIDS.” This is only the beginning of her work to destigmatize the disease, which affected over 36 million people in 2016. The vast majority of people living with the virus live in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
2011: UNICEF launches its Tap Project, which aimed to raise awareness about the global water crisis. Rihanna acts as ambassador, using her star power to engage consumers about the lack of access to clean water for nearly a billion people worldwide.
2012: In this landmark year, Rihanna launches the Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents. The foundation “works to improve the quality of life for communities globally in the areas of health, education, arts and culture” — a mission close to the star’s heart.
2013: The Viva Glam Lipstick Campaign, led by MAC Cosmetics, directly helps people affected by AIDs. Rihanna’s lipstick line raises over $60 million for the cause.
May 2016: Rihanna launches a scholarship program, putting weight behind the lyrics to her song “American Oxygen.” “On the other side of the ocean, you can be anything at all / in America, America,” she sings, and legitimizes these words by funding a scholarship program to help citizens or natives of Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica attend college in the U.S. In general, students from these countries are not well represented at U.S. universities in comparison to other international students, and the program was run by Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation.
December 2016: Prince Harry teams up with the pop legend to raise awareness about the AIDs virus. The two celebrities meet on World AIDS Day, and take HIV tests together publicly in an attempt to break down the negative conversation that commonly surrounds the disease. The pair encourages everyone to take the simple blood test, especially young people.
March 2017: “Queen RiRi” is honored as Harvard University’s Humanitarian of the Year for her charitable achievements. This honor places her on par with Malala Yousafzai and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and confirms that Rihanna’s global philanthropic work really does “shine bright like a diamond.”
September 2017: Fenty Beauty, the makeup line created by Rihanna, is launched. It is named one of TIME’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017, and marks a bold shift in makeup culture. Heralded as high-quality makeup for all shades and ethnicities, people around the world celebrate the line’s inclusivity.
2018: Rihanna is the keynote speaker at the Global Partnership for Africa Conference in Senegal. She addresses African heads of state and the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and was co-hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron and Senegalese president Macky Sall. “We’ve made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done. We have a long way to go. And this is a fight we’re never going to stop fighting until every body and every girl has access to education,” she states in her speech. The event raised over $2 billion to fund global education.
Rihanna’s Future is Bright Like a Diamond
Throughout her career, the star has demonstrated a relentless commitment to charitable causes. Rihanna’s global philanthropic work is commendable, and the world looks forward to finding out what her next venture will be.
– Jilly Fox