“Lady Gaga is so excited to be back in Washington, D.C., today, performing tonight at Nationals Park,” Executive Director Maya Smith told WTOP.
“Our mission [is] to build a kinder and a braver world. Our work falls into three main buckets: to make kindness cool, to validate the emotions of young people and to eliminate the stigma of mental health.”
Co-founded 10 years ago by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, the foundation has established the Kindness in Community Fund, pledging $1 million to support organizations nationwide focusing on youth mental wellness, access and equity.
“The work of Born This Way Foundation is deeply personal to her,” Smith said. “She was the incredible, unique, creative light that she is today when she was 4, 7 and 11 years old, but for that uniqueness … young people are treated as a liability instead of an asset. She endured meanness and cruelty at a young age, but she was clear that she would be kind.”
The foundation is donating grants of between $25,000 and $50,000 to 22 charities that applied in the metro areas of the various U.S. stops of her Chromatica Ball tour.
Locally, one $50,000 grant will go to Our Minds Matter, a student-led movement to change school culture around mental health, operating 120 schools nationwide, including D.C.
“Their goal is to envision and work toward the day when no young person dies by suicide,” Smith said. “It’s a really incredible and innovative grassroots effort. I love it for so many reasons, but really because young people are in the driver’s seat of everything that this organization does.”
Another $50,000 grant will go to the D.C. charity Civic Suds, which provides resources by meeting people at public spaces like the laundromat, hence the name “suds.”
“I’m obsessed with the Civic Suds idea,” Smith said. “Civic Suds aims to remove barriers to access to health resources by meeting people exactly where they are, whenever they have time. One of those places where people are and are often waiting is the laundromat. I lived in Logan Circle for almost 10 years and that’s probably the place I was most productive.”