Philanthropy and technology game together at a recent gala held in Hollywood, California. Front-man of the Grammy-award winning group The Black Eyed Peas is working hard to balance the tech scales with his foundation. The organization’s annual event not only entertained in a luxurious atmosphere but raised $1.6 million for under-represented voices in STEM and STEAM.

“What the Foundation does with the help of such events is vital to increasing the pool of diversity candidates who will eventually enter the workforce, especially those with STEM skills,” Will stated.  “Only 20% of under-served minority students that get accepted to college actually graduate, a statistic that is unacceptable.”

Photo Courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Foundation

Over the past six years, he has applied both his creative acumen as well as interest in technology to develop opportunities that will help shift the paradigm in the tech world today.  Through his creation and work through the Foundation, he and his team are able to offer a range of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs and opportunities to the underserved communities of Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, Watts/South Central Los Angeles, and Ferguson, Missouri. The hope is that students from various socio-economic conditions can compete for jobs of the present and future.  

Will explains, “Equal access to quality education, including STEM skills that are in demand at companies in every community is a social justice issue. When kids attend under-performing schools with outdated courses, they are being set up to fail, to drop out, go down the wrong path, and on their way to filling up cells in for-profit, privatized prisons.”    

A large part of the funds is raised during the annual TRANS4M Gala which just took place a few days ago in Hollywood, California and which honored tech entrepreneur and investor, Sean Parker.

After cocktails and touring student exhibits and projects, attendees were seated at various tables at Milk Studios for dinner, an intimate on-stage Q&A with Parker by Will, and performances by both Earth, Wind & Fire as well as the Black Eyed Peas.

Photo Courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Guests were treated to a number of prime dishes such as winter squash with chimichurri, pepita, date syrup and queso fresco as well as roasted chicken with crispy potatoes and salsa verde and Sierra Sur Tiramisu consisting of mescal, cinnamon ladyfingers, Mexican chocolate and Nueces pecans. The menu created by Food & Beverage by Winsome.

Approximately 350 guests including  TV show creators and producers Norman Lear and Jack Bender, actresses and activists Rosario Dawson and Goldie Hawn, music industry heavyweights Hans Zimmer and Moby, as well as professional athletes and a variety of Technorati from the Silicon Valley venture community such as Ron Conway. Sponsors included Salesforce, Emerson Collective, Chase and Angela Ahrends, among others.

Photo Courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Foundation

Indeed, work at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology is heavily dependent on STEM knowledge, hence the reason behind Parker being honored during the gala. Parker, Chairman of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy said, “I’m very grateful to be honored tonight because I’m receiving it both from a foundation I admire and its thoughtful leader,, who is paving the path for transformative change in education. It is that children everywhere deserve an equal opportunity to receive a quality education in an enriching environment.”

Will stated, “When we motivate kids and keep them on a path to graduate from high school with top grades needed to get into college, and then support them through earning their four-year degrees (debt-free), we change more than one life – we lift up families, and entire communities.”


To learn more, visit the Foundation website

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