The Power of Giving Back

The Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Makes Critical Impact

Courtesy Photo

By Remy Sisk

The dark horse success of the 2010 critically acclaimed film “Winter’s Bone” was how most of the world first learned about her. And then for anyone who missed that, her role as the central character in the screen adaptation of the global phenomenon that was the Hunger Games series surely introduced her as a genuine movie star. But the work of Louisville’s Jennifer Lawrence stretches far beyond pure entertainment. Despite her staggering success, her four Academy Award nominations and one win – for 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook” – and the 2014 Forbes title as the “Most Powerful Actress in Hollywood,” America’s Sweetheart has maintained an ardent commitment to giving back to her hometown, which first manifested in 2011 when she launched the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation – an organization that has been avidly serving the community ever since.

“Her passion for children and love for arts drove her to use her celebrity for good, thus the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation was born,” describes Karen Lawrence, Jennifer’s mother. Indeed, Jennifer has consistently stood up for good over the course of her career, and her foundation only allows that good to be centralized and harnessed to make the most impact possible.

With an exact mission that states that the foundation “assists and empowers charitable organizations that fulfill children’s vital needs and drive arts awareness and participation,” it is able to help and strengthen several of the community’s nonprofit organizations with the single goal in mind of helping children, frequently through the arts. “The Jennifer Lawrence Foundation operates like many other foundations in our city,” explains Executive Director Meredith Lawrence. “We identify the needs that fit our mission and have a process and criteria to determine where the grants make the most impact.”

Over its relatively short history, the foundation has assisted in fulfilling the missions of Uspiritus, St. Mary’s Center, West End School, Boys & Girls Clubs, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Be the Match, Meghan’s Mountain, Agape Flights, Fund for the Arts, Community Foundation of Louisville, Compassionate Schools Project, American Heart Association, Down Syndrome of Louisville, Dare to Care Food Bank and Kids Cancer Alliance. Perhaps its most renowned act came in 2016 when the foundation donated $2 million to establish the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Norton Children’s Hospital.

Karen Lawrence

To raise much of the funds that it disseminates, the foundation “leverages independent philanthropy initiatives, community events and popular culture memorabilia donations and auctions to positively impact the lives of young people, artists and the organizations that serve them,” per the mission statement. To those behind the organization, using Jennifer’s celebrity for positive impact is not only effective but also completely logical, as many of the actress’ characters – such as Katniss Everdeen and Joy Mangano – are women who illustrate the power of one individual.

“We want the foundation to be a presence in Louisville as a positive impact,” affirms Karen. “What we see is the children, the young adults all sharing how much of a role model Jennifer has been for them. She wants everyone to be the best they can be and if she can help them, that is the goal.”

To celebrate this important trend of Jennifer’s career as well as affect more change in the community than ever, the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation will hold The Power of One this Friday, July 14. “The Power of One,” Karen says, “is all about how it really takes just one person to make a difference, empowering people to have confidence, and to never give up before you try.”

Meredith Lawrence

The fundraiser will see guests congregate at the Frazier History Museum to explore “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition” and enjoy a sit-down dinner provided by Chef Dean Corbett and other local chefs, specialty cocktails from Michter’s Distillery, beer selections from Falls City Brewing and live music by local artists Linkin’ Bridge and the Louisville Crashers. Perhaps the most exciting aspect to the event is that Jennifer herself will be in attendance and guests will indeed have the opportunity to interact with her.

“The Power of One event is a unique opportunity for Jennifer to celebrate her hometown and raise awareness and funds for her foundation,” Meredith says. “With Louisville being Jennifer’s hometown, she feels strongly about giving back and making an impact here. This is the first time she has had the opportunity to come back and celebrate. It is important to her and the incredible impact her foundation is making.”

Tickets to the full experience of The Power of One are $1,000, and Mix & Mingle tickets, which allow access to the exhibition, drinks, hors d’oeuvres and live music – as well as a chance at running into Jennifer – are $300. For more information and tickets, visit
fraziermuseum.org or
jenniferlawrencefoundation.com.

Going forward, the foundation will continue to seek out ways to make the most impact that it can within the Louisville community and perhaps even beyond: “We work closely with Jennifer to identify organizations we feel we can impact and fit our mission,” Meredith maintains. “She has a passion for children and loves the arts, which leads the direction for granting. … We want to continue the work we have started – one day we hope to expand and spread the spirit we foster in Louisville, but this is our community first and foremost.”

The foundation’s work is without question reaching greater and greater heights as time passes. As Jennifer’s influence in Hollywood continues to ascend, so too does her staunch dedication to giving back to her hometown. The commitment she has so fiercely illustrated to empowering the children of this community and using the arts as a force for good not only is a clear indicator of her own generosity, but it also paves the way for Louisville to emerge as a stronger, more thoughtful and developed community, one child at a time. And that is what The Power of One fundraiser is all about – emphasizing that change often begins not in popularity but in individuality.

“As Jennifer would say, never let anyone tell you you can’t do anything. Believe in yourself,” Karen relates. “If it is important to you, then do it. Dream big. The foundation is trying to empower this mentality and make a difference.” VT

  • gracia

    Jennifer Lawrence is talented and honest. She deserves success. Actually, I wanna go to the pijama party