Lollapalooza serves music with a side of social good

The Killers performing at Lollapalooza 2009

By Hilary Gridley

The Killers aren’t the only much-hyped act returning to Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival this year. Since its inception, the now Grant Park-based event has focused as much on giving back to the community as it has on securing stellar and diverse lineups. In addition to The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, The Postal Service and Vampire Weekend, here are some of the nonprofits and other social good initiatives teaming up with Lolla this year.

Green Street

You can find all the nonprofits partners represented alongside local artisans and small business promoting social good on Green Street, a strip of booths inside the park that flank the entrance and exit. Want to get to know the organizations featured below or do some fair trade shopping? Stop by and say hi throughout the festival.

Love Hope Strength

Can a concert save a life? The team at Love Hope Strength doesn’t just think so–they’ve made it happen. Through their GET ON THE LIST campaign, they register bone marrow donors at shows around the world. In all, the organization has registered more than 35,000 people to the national marrow registry, resulting in more than 500 matches for patients in need of transplants. Twelve of these matches signed up at Lollapalooza!


It’s no surprise that Bono’s organization understands the power of music to create social change. The global grassroots advocacy organization will be rallying festivalgoers to sign petitions, make phone calls, and write letters to demand government solutions to extreme poverty, preventable disease and hunger around the world.

Oxfam envisions a just world without poverty and believes music can play a part in making this a reality, The organization develops long-term solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice in more than 90 countries. The Chicago Oxfam Action Corps will represent the team at Lollapalooza, engaging music fans who are interested in joining the fight against hunger and poverty. Oxfam also recently released a “Summer Jams” mixtape featuring artists like Wilco and Ra Ra Riot who support the nonprofit’s work. Download cards will bee available at their Green Street booth.

Rock The Vote

In its twenty-year history, Rock the Vote has registered more young people to vote than any other organization or campaign. By combining music, popular culture, new technology and grassroots organizing, they have engaged and mobilized more than 5 million young people to participate in democracy. The organization also aims to be the best-informed place online where young people can learn the facts before casting a ballot.

T.J. Martell Foundation

When Sony Music Entertainment label exec Tony Martell’s son was diagnosed with leukemia, he asked his father to raise a million dollars for cancer research so “no one else will have to experience what I am going through.” Martell vowed to do just that, and has since raised $250 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. The T.J. Martell Foundation is the music industry’s largest foundation that funds medical research across the country.


HeadCount uses the power of music to register voters and raise political consciousness. Since 2004, they’ve staged voter registration drives at more than 2,000 concerts and signed up more than 200,000 voters.

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