Born This Way Foundation

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Born This Way Foundation
Born This Way Foundation logo.png
Founded 2011
Founder Lady Gaga
Cynthia Germanotta
Slogan Empowering Youth Inspiring Bravery
Mission To foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world.[1]

The Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) is an American non-profit organization founded in 2011 by recording artist Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta. Established at Harvard University, and named after Gaga's second studio album Born This Way (2011), the foundation aims to inspire youth and build better communities. BTWF works in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the California Endowment.[2]

The foundation aims to create a "braver, kinder world" for youths; create safe-spaces, promote the learning of life skills, and provide opportunities to improve their local communities.[3] In a statement, Lady Gaga said "My mother and I have initiated a passion project [...] to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment."[4]

In September 2012 Gaga was awarded the LennonOno Grant For Peace from Yoko Ono for her work with the foundation "actively campaigning on pro-tolerance and peace issues."[5][6] The award "intends to keep that pop activism alive" in the spirit of Ono and her late husband John Lennon whose song "Imagine" includes the famous line "imagine all the people living life in peace."[5]


Lady Gaga has a history of action against bullying and empowerment of young people,[7] in September 2011 she met with US president Barack Obama to talk on the subject.[4] Her meeting was in part response to gay fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer who killed himself because he was being bullied.[4][8][9] He had recorded an "It Gets Better" video and before he died posted a line from a Lady Gaga song on his Facebook page.[4] In 2010 the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network stated, "There has been heightened media attention surrounding the [recent] suicides."[10] The same month Tyler Clementi died, four other LGBT teenagers were reported to have committed suicide after being bullied about their homosexuality.[11]

The Guardian noted as well Gaga's interest in the "history of devastating school shootings perpetrated by students felt to be social outcasts," they wrote:

[Gaga is] recognising that schools are powerful places to spark societal change, she hopes her message will "inject love, acceptance and tolerance into culture." At the end of the day, the goal is not only to "save the victim," she says, "but also save the bully."[12]

In the documentary Inside the Outside Gaga told of being bullied herself and thrown in a trashcan while classmates looked on.[13]


The organization was founded in 2011 and formally launched in 2012 by artist Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, who said, "challenge meanness and cruelty by inspiring young people to create a support system in their respective communities."[14][15][16] Media proprietor Oprah Winfrey, writer Deepak Chopra, and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the inauguration.[17][18] The Foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Gaga, $500,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from retailer Barneys New York.[19]

In fall 2011 BTWF was the beneficiary of Barneys New York holiday campaign which also featured "Lady Gaga’s Workshop."[20] In spring of 2012, cinema and cable television media company Viacom was announced as the BTWF's lead media partner for the development of events, programming and "opportunities that empower young people to build a braver, kinder world."[21][22] In August 2012, Gaga was named by American business magazine Forbes, well known for its lists (richest Americans – the Forbes 400, Forbes list of billionaires, etc.), as fourteenth on their "World's 100 Most Powerful Women" list due in part to her BTWF work.[23]

In March 2014, Roger Friedman of Showbiz411 criticized the foundation's spendings after its federal tax reports were released. The reports noted spending of $348,000 on its Born Brave Bus tour; approximately $1.5 million on fees related to Web and social media, publicity, and legalities, as opposed to only $5,000 in grants to individuals and other organizations. "It’s unclear that anyone was really helped by the Born This Way Foundation other than lawyers, consultants, publicists and travel agents," Friedman wrote.[24] "We do the work," Lady Gaga wrote in response. "We do not raise money and allocate the funds to other charities for them to do the work."[25] "A clear understanding of the differences between a grant-making organization and one that carries out its work directly would have made this a non-story," Cynthia Germanotta added. "We are not a grant-maker that funds the work of other charities, and were never intended to be ... [But] we are having a profound impact in just a very short period of time."[25]


From March 28 to April 11, 2012, the BTWF ran a poster campaign "to inspire bravery" and encouraging supporters to submit images that answer the question "What does bravery mean to you?" with the 10 semifinalists selected by Gaga and her mother and leading to a prize for the winner(s), selected by fans.[26][27]

In August 2012, BTWF Co-founder Cynthia Germanotta was one of the speakers at the U.S. Department of Education's third annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit to coordinate "anti-bullying efforts with the best available research,"[28] she appeared with White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett with their speeches broadcast on C-SPAN.[29][30] BTWF's work was discussed among other ongoing anti-bullying efforts.[28]

Research and Advisory Board[edit]

In October 2012 the formalization of a seven-person Research and Advisory Board was announced that will advise on BTWF's "youth empowerment and tolerance programs" based on "sound theory and research."[31][32] Susan Swearer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor of school psychology in the College of Education and Human Sciences, will chair the group.[31] Swearer has worked with BTWF since 2011 creating resources "as it prepared to enter the national anti-bullying discussion," she co-directs the Bullying Research Network, which "promotes international collaboration among bullying and peer victimization researchers."[31] Also named to the board is C.J. Pascoe, the only sociologist, from Colorado College who studies gender, sexuality, inequality, youth and new media.[32]

Born Brave Nation[edit]

Gaga announced in May 2012 that the "Born Brave Bus" would follow her on tour as a youth drop-in center as an initiative against bullying and homophobia.[33][34][35] In June 2012, "Born Brave" community and school groups, these localized groups dedicate to making positive change where they live.[36] Born Brave Nation, a name chosen by the BTWF supporters, was requesting founding members in July 2012 but had not yet launched. The Born Brave Nation would later be headed by youths "dedicated to building a kinder, braver world in their homes, schools, and communities" and appears to accept anyone only up to the age of 100 years as a founder, teacher, student or supporter.[37]

In August 2012 the BTWF launched a national youth advisory board, 24 young people ages 17–23 who will represent other young people.[35] They initially attended a three-day summit at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles,[35] where they held discussions with youth advocate and journalist Anne Collier, and Maya Enista Smith, the CEO of[38][39] During the summit the board provided feedback on upcoming programs and initiatives of the BTWF, "helping to guide the Foundation’s plan for the coming year."[38] The youth advisory board will serve as ambassadors to "Born Brave Nation."[38]

Schools project[edit]

In 2012, Gaga expressed an interest in being part of the "natural fabric of schooling."[40] In July 2012, the BTWF partnered with supplier of office products Office Depot to create a range of limited edition back-to-school products including: "empowerment gift cards" containing motivational messages, and "bravery bracelets."[41] Office Depot agreed to donate 25% of the sale value for each item sold and guaranteed $1 million USD donation in 2012 to the foundation.[42] This led the Florida Family Association, what New York Times noted was a one-man Christian fundamentalist organization, to accuse Office Depot of influencing teenagers to reject heterosexuality.[43][44][4] In support of the efforts by Office Depot and the Born This Way Foundation, public service announcement videos were created by model and actor Patrick Schwarzenegger,[45] and by pop singer Greyson Chance to be aired on Facebook, YouTube and other outlets.[46]

A Body Revolution 2013[edit]

In September 2012 Gaga launched a new project called A Body Revolution 2013 to address poor body image and body acceptance, this was done, in part, because media outlets had negatively remarked on supposed weight gains by the performer.[47] To start the project she posted images of herself in underwear and asked others to follow her lead stating "May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous."[48] She accompanied the photos with statements that she suffered from the eating disorders bulimia and anorexia nervosa since she was 15.[49]


On July 24, 2013 the BTWF announced a Crowdrise campaign with the stated goal of crowdsourcing the process of raising money to continue the Born Brave Bus tour.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our Mission". Born This Way Foundation. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ Cole, Alan (June 29, 2012). "Lady Gaga: Foundation clubs". Xperedon Charity News. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Yowell, connie. "The foundation launches". An online news site. Huffington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Park, James (July 21, 2012). "Florida Family Association: Office Depot helping Lady Gaga ‘turn children gay’". Pink News. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Cole, Alan (September 10, 2012). "LADY GAGA: Peace award; Lady Gaga to receive peace award from Yoko Ono today on John Lennon’s birthday". Xperedon Charity News. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (October 10, 2012). "Lady Gaga Receives Peace Award From Yoko Ono Russian rockers Pussy Riot were also awarded LennonOno Grant for Peace.". MTV News. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Ross, Robert (November 14, 2012). "Column: For the millions of teens who find themselves alone, I am thankful that Lady Gaga was born that way.". USA Today. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ Shapiro, Nalina (September 18, 2012). "Jamey's death strikes chord on anniv.". WIVB. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (November 14, 2012). "Lady Gaga's Anti-Bullying Campaign Reaches Brazil After Teen's Tragic Death". Entertainmentwise. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  10. ^ "GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project Release Statement on Recent Tragedies". September 30, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  11. ^ Richard James (October 1, 2010). "US gay community reeling from 'epidemic' of suicides among teenagers". London: Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ Horansky, Christine (October 4, 2012). "A dance revolution against school violence Lady Gaga's campaign against bullying and violence chimes with one US social enterprise that has grown its peace education programme across four continents". The Guardian. Retrieved October 5, 2012. 
  13. ^ Smith, Jessica (November 8, 2012). "Anti-bullying: A cause close to the heart for celebrities". Metro Canada. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lady Gaga Launches Born This Way Foundation". March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 
  15. ^ May, Jackie (June 25, 2012). "Lady Gaga's quest for kindness makes her 'Reel Cool'". The Times (South Africa). Last year when a 14-year-old boy committed suicide after being teased for being gay, Lady Gaga tweeted: "The past days I've spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone's life". The right response, of course. But she also took action and a few months later launched the Born This Way Foundation "to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment". 
  16. ^ Lee, Leon (May 6, 2012). "She does it her way; Lady Gaga stands up for individuality". South China Morning Post. Lady Gaga has taken her message of individualism to heart and become the face of the anti-bullying movement. In February, she launched the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on encouraging individuality and self-expression among young people. 
  17. ^ "Lady Gaga, Oprah at Harvard, launch singer’s youth-empowerment foundation". The Washington Post (Washington DC: WPC). February 29. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 4, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ "Oprah Teams Up With Lady Gaga for Born This Way Foundation Launch". Billboard. September 14, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Lady Gaga Testifies at Harvard on Behalf of Born This Way Foundation.". Mental Health Weekly Digest. March 12, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  20. ^ Mahoney, Sarah (August 30, 2012). "Disney Goes Haute With Barneys This Holiday". Marketing Daily. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ Loading Tumblr posts. "Born This Way Foundation". Born This Way Foundation. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Viacom Joins Forces with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation as its Lead Media Partner – Blog.Viacom". May 17, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Forbes Ranks Lady Gaga As Music's Most Powerful Woman". All Access. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2012. 
  24. ^ Friedman, Roger (March 11, 2014). "Lady Gaga Foundation Spends More on Lawyers, Publicity and Consultants than on Charity". Showbiz411. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b Michaels, Sean (March 14, 2014). "Lady Gaga denies claims regarding Born This Way Foundation funds". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Poster Contest Official Rules". Born This Way Foundation. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Poster Contest". Born This Way Foundation. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Education Dept. Hosts Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit". CSPAN. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  29. ^ Schwab, Nikki (August 7, 2012). "Mother Gaga comes to Washington". Washington Examiner. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Bullying Prevention Summit: Day Two, Valerie Jarrett and Cynthia Germanotta". CSPAN. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b c "UNL professor tapped to lead Lady Gaga board". KLKN TV. November 3, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Mendoza, Monica (November 5, 2012). "Colorado College’s C.J. Pascoe joins board for Lady Gaga’s Foundation". Colorado Springs Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  33. ^ Krasny, Ros (March 1, 2012). "Lady Gaga lends star wattage to youth empowerment". Reuters. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Menace of cyber bullies". Cape Argus. April 11, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  35. ^ a b c Stewart, Alice (August 29, 2012). "Lady GaGa's charity launches youth board". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  36. ^ Cole, Alan (July 27, 2012). "Lady Gaga: BTW Nation". Xperedon Charity News. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  37. ^ "BTWF looking for sign-ups". Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  38. ^ a b c "Lady Gaga’s Foundation Launches Youth Advisory Board". Access Hollywood. August 28, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  39. ^ Chaffee, Ruby (September 7, 2012). "Youth Advisory Board Summit – LA 2012". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 12, 2012. 
  40. ^ Kinsner, Jeremy (August 18, 2012). "Patrick Schwarzenegger Joins Gaga's Born This Way Foundation". Advocate. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  41. ^ Wilson, Gaby (July 16, 2012). "Born This Way Foundation Sells Bravery Bracelets At Office Depot". MTV Style. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  42. ^ Pannacione, Maggie (July 16, 2012). "Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation Partners With Office Depot". Artist Direct. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  43. ^ The 2010 federal tax forms for the Florida Family Association list Mr. Caton as its only paid employee, earning $55,200. Source:Freedman, Samuel G. (December 16, 2011). "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  44. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. (December 16, 2011). "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  45. ^ "Patrick Schwarzenegger supports the BTWF". Huffington Post. August 20, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  46. ^ Heyman, Marshall (August 11, 2012). "Helping a Lady in Need (website subscription required)". Wall Street Journal (U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal). p. A23. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  47. ^ Jio, Sarah (September 25, 2012). "Body Image Controversy: Lady Gaga Posts Photos of Herself in Underwear, Launches "Body Revolution"". Glamour. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  48. ^ Strecker, Erin (September 25, 2012). "Lady Gaga talks bulimia, launches new foundation project: A Body Revolution". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  49. ^ Garibaldi, Christina (September 27, 2012). "Lady Gaga's Monsters Embrace Their Insecurities With 'Body Revolution'". MTV News. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  50. ^ "#BraveStamp | Fundraising Event on Crowdrise". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 

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