Oprah Winfrey's donation will go to South LA Forward, a newly created coalition of three Los Angeles based grassroots organizations — SoLA I Can Foundation, SEE-LA and the Watts Healthcare Corporation

By Robyn Merrett
July 14, 2020 04:58 PM
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Oprah Winfrey
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Oprah Winfrey is continuing to support those in need amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The TV mogul's The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF) has donated $3 million to COVID-19 relief efforts in South Los Angeles, California.

The donation was presented to South LA Forward, a newly created coalition of three Los Angeles based grassroots organizations: SoLa I Can Foundation, SEE-LA and the Watts Healthcare Corporation.

South LA Forward was established with the mission of committing to providing 200 tons of fresh food to feed 80,000 Angelenos and providing 200 scholarships to those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. South LA Forward also aims to expand COVID-19 testing and primary care for South Los Angeles residents.

Of the foundation, Winfrey, 66, said in statement: "As I continue to seek out ways to support underserved communities, I was struck by the unique multi-layered approach to effect real change to the systematic barriers of access to healthy food, quality health care and educational opportunities."

"We were incredibly honored to be selected by the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation along with SEE-LA and Watts Healthcare," SoLa I Can Foundation's executive director Sherri Francois said.

"We believe addressing economic inequality and racial injustice requires a multi-pronged approach, and are thrilled that Ms. Winfrey has taken such a holistic approach in addressing these issues," Francois said.

Oprah Winfrey
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Expressing similar sentiments, SEE-LA's Marie-Alise de Marco said, "South LA Forward will dramatically expand our COVID-19 emergency food distribution program and help SEE-LA address entrenched obstacles to food access in my community. As a South LA native, I know first-hand that food insecurity and historic inequities in our food system walk hand-in-hand. It's time to forge sustainable local solutions once and for all."

As for what Winfrey's donation will do, Watts Healthcare chief executive president Dr. Roderick Seamster explained: "The grant will enable Watts Healthcare to more effectively carry out its mission and great expand our ability to provide care to South Los Angeles individuals at risk for COVID-19 due to chronic health conditions."

Winfrey's gift is in addition to her previously announced $12 million donation to COVID-19 relief efforts in her "home cities" of Chicago, Nashville, Milwaukee and Kosciusko, Mississippi.

South LA Forward
South LA Forward

In April, Winfrey donated $10 million to COVID-19 relief efforts — $1 million of which will help those facing food insecurity.

In an IGTV post, Winfrey spoke with chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, to reveal her donation. The $1 million will benefit America’s Food Fund, a new initiative launched to help feed local communities during this time. (The remaining $9 million will be divided among charities close to Winfrey’s heart including Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano, Texas and the Boys and Girls Club in Kosciusko, Mississippi.)

“I know not everybody can donate a million dollars, but I feel like this is the central place to [donate to] if you really want to do something,” Winfrey said during their virtual interview. “I know I can trust my money in your hands.”

A stunned Andrés — who could barely believe he was speaking with Winfrey!  — immediately expressed his gratitude. “We are so honored to be in your presence giving this fund this kind of visibility,” he said. “We are going to come out of this crisis stronger than ever, making sure we don’t leave anybody behind.”

America’s Food Fund was launched with $12 million by Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs and Apple to aid World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.

According to a news release, “America’s Food Fund will address the issue of food access in the United States and will provide funding relief to both organizations in furthering their missions to feed the country’s most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19, including children who rely on school lunch programs, low-income families, the elderly, and individuals facing job disruptions.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.