When 25 top Latin acts take the stage on May 17 in support of philanthropic organization ALAS, they will be bolstered by a financial commitment of more than $200 million from Mexican millionaire Carlos Slim Helú and philanthropist Howard Buffett.

The funds are slated to go to programs that support ALAS' mission as an organization; ones aimed at helping the more than 32 million children living in poverty throughout Latin America.

Headquartered in Panama, ALAS was founded in 2006 by a group of artists, business leaders and intellectuals, including Shakira, Miguel Bosé and Alejandro Sanz. To date, the organization has supported some actions, including vaccination efforts led by Ricardo Montaner in the Southern Cone and Wyclef Jean in Haiti.

But its first major event is two massive, simultaneous concerts in Buenos Aires and Mexico City on May 17, featuring performances by acts such as Maná, Juanes, Shakira, Ricardo Montaner, Ricky Martin, Chayanne and Miguel Bosé. All costs for the show, estimated at $4 million, according to published reports, will be covered by donors, including Slim's companies.

From the inception, ALAS' focus was early childhood development for children in Latin America. But, says CEO Araceli Ruano, ALAS is not directly involved in creating or implementing programs.

"We are a catalyst for action. We serve as a connector," says Ruano. "We have artists and business leaders who have successful foundations that work." Equally important, she stresses, ALAS wants to push people to action and "change the way people think about philanthropy."

To that effect, Saturday’s free concerts are being billed as a "Call to Action" to support ALAS' mission and raise awareness about the plight of children in Latin America.

The concerts, expected to bring some 300,000 fans, will not be raising money to the ALAS cause, although fans are invited to visit the ALAS Web site at movimientoalas.org to learn about different ways to contribute to the movement.

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