By James Pleasant
Along with a stellar lineup featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Flying Lotus, Alt-J and A$AP Rocky, Lollapalooza is once again focusing on giving back to the community by running its annual Lolla Cares initiative – a showcase of several fantastic non-profit organizations that the festival supports.
If you’re attending the Grant Park extravaganza taking place July 31-August 2, be sure to stop by some of the booths and check out these great causes. And if you can’t attend the festival, be sure to visit these organizations’ websites and catch live-streamed performances on Red Bull TV.
Chicago Cares works to build a stronger community by addressing issues including hunger, education, poverty and job readiness. These services are especially essential in a city that saw 432 murders in 2014, boasting one of the highest murder rates in the country. Founded in 1991 by Leslie Bluhm and Mary Prchal, the organization has amassed 500,000 volunteers, and is one of Chicago’s leading non-profits. Chicago Cares has created tens of thousands of programs to educate and empower volunteers to help shape the future of their community.
HeadCount returns to Lolla this year to help register voters of all ages. The organization, founded in 2004, is focused on working with musicians and concerts in order to convince the masses to register and vote. HeadCount aims to persuade people to participate in politics, and stresses the importance of voting in order to make a direct impact on the community. The organization has registered more than 300,000 voters since 2004, and travels around the country staging voter registration drives at various music events.
Love Hope Strength is a cancer foundation promoting outreach and awareness programs for cancer victims, survivors and their families. In 2007, LHSF hosted the world’s highest concert on land at Mount Everest, gaining an audience of over 3 million through the internet and an MTV documentary. LHSF builds and funds cancer centers around the world, and is supported by several musicians including Wilco, The Doobie Brothers and Jason Mraz.
2015 Lollapalooza headliner Paul McCartney and his daughters Mary & Stella McCartney helped launch Meat Free Monday in 2009, which is a not-for-profit campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the health and environmental impacts of eating meat. The initiative, supported by celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow and Ricky Gervais, encourages people to refrain from eating meat at least once a week.
MusiCares, established by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, provides musicians with financial and medical aid in their times of need, and treats each case with full confidentiality. The foundation offers programs such as emergency financial assistance, senior housing, outreach, and drug rehabilitation.
ONE, co-founded by U2’s Bono, is an advocacy and international campaigning organization fighting to end extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases around the world—namely in Africa, and raises public and political awareness to combat life-threatening issues such as AIDS. The organization has seen a number of successes in its advocacy efforts, and currently 9 million people in Africa today have access to AIDS medication — up from 50,000 in 2002. In previous years, ONE’s booth at Lollapalooza offered festival-goers the opportunity to write postcards to their representatives, asking them to support and advocate the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to provide electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Arica.
Like ONE, Oxfam America is another organization combatting extreme poverty in developing countries. The Chicago chapter of Oxfam American will represent the organization at Lollapalooza, encouraging fans to fight against global poverty and injustice. The music-savvy charity released a free Summer Jams mixtape (http://www.oxfamamerica.org/take-action/volunteer/concerts-festivals/oxfam-summer-jams-2015/) earlier this year, featuring tracks from Mew, Father John Misty, Ra Ra Riot and more.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is arguably the largest animal rights organization in the world, and has amassed more than 3 million members and supporters. The organization has received tons of media attention since its founding in 1980, and is endorsed by countless celebrities. It primarily focuses on protecting animals from factory farms, the clothing trade, laboratories, and harmful entertainment industry practices.
Rock the Vote is the largest non-profit organization that specifically aims on encouraging young people to flex their political power and vote. The organization fuses pop culture with politics, making voting more enticing and accessible to younger audiences. Founded in 1990, Rock the Vote has helped encourage youth to create political and social change for 25 years through television campaigns and appearances at pop culture events. Rock the Vote has processed nearly 7 million voter registrations since its inception.
Soberside is an initiative comprised of clean and sober music fans who choose to remain sober (alcohol and drug free) at music festivals. The tent will be on-sight at Lolla for any music fans who choose to remain sober during the festivities.
Syd Rocks is a Chicago-based foundation that raises awareness and funds research for Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis, a rare disease of the bone marrow and lymph nodes—primarily affecting children. Syd Rocks will be selling necklaces, t-shirts, hats and bracelets at Lollapalooza to raise funds for its cause.
Working Bikes will be at Lollapalooza for the fourth year in a row. The organization is dedicated to rescuing discarded bikes and redistributing them to impoverished communities. Throughout the years, the organization has shipped thousands of donated bicycles to countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, South Africa and Ghana. The Chicago-based organization also donates bikes to poor and homeless people throughout the city. This year, the organization will have a booth offering music fans the chance to try out their bike machines.
To learn more about Lollapalooza 2015, click here. Remember – have fun, stay safe, and make sure to check out these great causes in between sets!