TACOMA, Washington — Selena Gomez is an incredibly successful, multi-talented woman. She has garnered acclaim for her work in the entertainment industry. As a child, she worked as an actress, first on Barney & Friends and later as a teen on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. She has since become a renowned pop star and executive producer of the hit show Thirteen Reasons Why. But, despite Selena’s eclectic professional endeavors, her commendable dedication to philanthropy has stayed consistent; she stated at a 2008 charity concert, “Giving back has always been important to me.” Read more about Selena Gomez’s charity work, specifically her history of giving back to the world’s poor.
Much of Selena Gomez’s charity work comes from her work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In 2008, UNICEF made Gomez its designated spokesperson for the organization’s Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. This campaign encouraged young people in the U.S. to raise money for impoverished children on Halloween. Shortly thereafter, Gomez was appointed the youngest-ever UNICEF ambassador at age 17. Gomez worked closely with the charity from 2008-2012, reprising her role as a spokesperson of the Trick-or-Treat campaign. She also embarked on field missions in Ghana and Chile.
Other Gomez-UNICEF endeavors include the March 2011 UNICEF Tap Project Celebrity Tap Campaign, which raised money and awareness for clean water and sanitation efforts; the Jan. 2012 UNICEF Charity Concert where Gomez’s performance raised $200,000 toward UNICEF’s global education, sanitation and immunization promotion and #SahelNow, an April 2012 emergency campaign to raise funds to mitigate the death of a million children from malnutrition in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. After UNICEF made her an ambassador, Gomez articulated her passion for the cause: “Every day 25,000 children die from preventable causes. I stand with UNICEF in the belief that we can change that number from 25,000 to zero.”
Gomez has used her fame as an actress to participate in films and documentaries that raise awareness for global poverty. One example is her work with the 2013 movie Girl Rising, which shares the true stories of nine girls in developing countries as they struggle to pursue their dreams of education. Though each girl’s story is autobiographical, actresses narrate their words, including Gomez, who spoke as Aminatta Mariama from Sierra Leone. Girl Rising was part of the 10×10 Campaign that targets donors at top global philanthropic companies. By doing so, they hope to drive awareness and donations towards girls’ education.
WE Charity, formerly known as Free the Children, is an international development charity that advocates for global youth empowerment. The organization promotes education, water and food security in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Gomez has worked extensively as an ambassador for the charity, participating in its annual WE day in California for seven consecutive years from 2013 to 2019. Gomez also spent ten days in Kenya with the foundation in Dec. 2019. On her Instagram, she wrote, “I will share so many of these stories and voices. Voices that need to be heard @wemovement you do INCREDIBLE things and I’m honored to be a part of the family!”
The Malala Fund
Selena Gomez’s charity work often centers on female empowerment and equality. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She garnered international attention in 2012 when the Pakistani Taliban shot her in the head for her advocacy. One year after Yousafzai launched her non-profit, the Malala Fund, Gomez became a swift supporter of her cause, which aims to ensure 12 years of safe, free and quality education for every girl worldwide. Gomez tweeted, “#IAmMalala I stand with Malala because there should be more young women like her. She is MY role model.” Gomez also participated in the charity’s 2014 “We Are Silent” Campaign where she and other celebrities created a video retelling Yousafzai’s shooting.
This just scratches the surface of Selena Gomez’s charity work. She has also advocated for immigration reform, cancer treatment and AIDS awareness. No matter how busy her schedule, Selena Gomez always seems to find time to give back.
– Abby Tarwater