By: Cherée Franklin
Sunday March 4, 2018 from 7:00 pm to midnight marked the Third Annual City Gala in combination with the City Summit’s business accelerator conference; both were held at Universal Studios inside the Globe Theater. The event honorees included Matthew McConaughey and Ashton Kutcher. Featured surprised guests (American Crime Story: People vs O.J Simpson) Dale Godboldo, (Star vs. The Forces of Evil) Adam McArthur, (Black Panther) Carrie Bernans, along with many other elite faces graced the red carpet.
The City Gala not only captured the true essence of the phase “giving back to those in need”, with powerful speakers and round table discussions, the event also curated casino tables and silent auctions. All of the money donated through the casino table buy-ins alongside the silent auctions assisted aid to support those non-profit and other charitable beneficiaries. This year’s City Gala supported the following: “Already Always Amazing, Bright Futures Foundation, Feed A Billion, Fulfilled Families, Firelife Foundation, Project NOW, Conscious Capitalism, Child Liberation Foundation, and My Life My Power” just to name a few.
Founder and CEO of City Gala, Ryan Long volunteers within each charity for a full year in order to determine if that particular charitable cause fits the mold. Ryan’s main goal is to assist, develop and train each beneficiary of the Gala to align with solving the world’s global challenges. The Third Annual City Gala’s vision is to advance our communities through humanitarian activities and events.
Honoree Matthew McConaughey was recognized for his outstanding commitment to his charity Just Keep Living. The program is designed to help teens become the best versions of themselves before graduating high school and maturing into young adults. McConaughey wanted to help the communities with high poverty rates along with a majority coming from single family households. Just Keep Living program started in 2008 right here in Los Angeles california, his program has grown tremendously and is now implemented in states across the U.S.
McConaughey was able to demonstrate how his program Just Keep Livin was built around four curriculum basics of fitness, nutrition, community service and gratitude. These key components help guide children and their families on how to make better choices in life, which ultimately help them grow independently shaping their future in a positive light. Just Keep Living is giving kids a safe place to go to after school, when many of them are scared to go home due to the high crime and drug trafficking within their community. The program has entered schools that had a 50% dropout rate, with that being said the program was able to turn these statistics around with the help of the teachers promoting the program and spending extra time within the program helping students after school. McConaughey shared some promising statistics to help show how his program is nothing short of extraordinary; “90% classroom attendance increase, 92% grade improvement, 95% behavior improvement and most of all 98% of the students graduated high school”. These statistics not only show that Just Keep Living program is striving, but it has given children the opportunity and the tools needed to succeed no matter what upbringing they might have had.
Representatives from charities such as: Make-a-Wish Foundation, My Life, My Power, Green Peace, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, were in attendance to discuss positive strides being made for a year of change.
City Gala was a wonderful event raising awareness and funds for so many non-profit organizations that need support to start off and once they do, the sky's the limit. It was an extravagant event that was filled with gratitude, determination and hope to help others in need. The atmosphere was one that gave excitement to many, due to all the greatness being achieved by others for others. Celebrities using their platforms and/or brand to showcase humanitarian issues that need to be addressed then help find a solution for those problems, that's when histories being made when we stop thinking about ourselves and begin thinking of others globally.