Grammy Award Winner Usher Launches New Initiative - Black Enterprise

Grammy Award Winner Usher Launches New Initiative

Elizabeth Gore, director of global partnerships and Nothing But Nets for the United Nations Foundation, Usher Raymond, and a representative for Battle for the Art with a Powered By Service grant. (Source: Lonnie C. Major)

As part of his ongoing efforts to encourage youth volunteerism and service, R&B singer Usher Raymond launched a new initiative entitled Powered By Service during the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York Thursday.

The multimillion-dollar campaign is an extension of Usher’s New Look Foundation, which was established in 1999 to support young people to use their talents to become corporate and community leaders. The grant through Powered By Service gives young people age 12-20 the financial resources to support issues they are passionate about — whether it’s preventing malaria, cleaning up local parks, or creating programs addressing teenage pregnancy and gang violence.

To kick off the initiative, Usher awarded two $500 grants to New York area youth at City Year headquarters later that evening. “You can make a difference through your actions,” Usher told the crowd. “You can change problems in local communities or halfway around the world just through your service.”

This bold new program puts young  people completely in control. The grants range from $500-$1000 and are reviewed by members of Usher’s youth advisory board. Once approved, the applicant is the CEO, and will with use the money to make change in their own backyards or globally.

“We, the youth, are the future and what we do will impact the next 50 years,” said Suprita Datta, 15, a volunteer for HandsOn Network, a partner of Usher’s New Look. “It starts now, it starts today, and it starts with you.”

New Look has partnered with several organizations with a goal of mobilizing more than 5 million youth in a global call to service. Powered By Service is currently working with the United Nations’ “Nothing But Nets” campaign to help combat malaria in Africa.  Nothing But Nets has already delivered more than 150,000 bed nets to cover refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda, and New Look has pledged an additional 40,000 nets.

Shawn H. Wilson, president of Usher’s New Look, noted that malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. Each year 350 million-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and more than one million people die.

“A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds,” said Wilson. “It only cost $10 to send a net and save a life and that’s very empowering for our youth to know that they can act locally and have an impact internationally.”

For more information about Usher’s New Look and Powered By Service, visit