Scooter Braun on Helping Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande Give Back
"I believe in karma,” says Scooter Braun, 35, the founder of SB Projects and career booster for top artists as Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly and Ariana Grande. “I believe we have a higher responsibility to each other.”
Braun’s belief in giving back explains his support for causes, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses; Pencils of Promise (founded by his brother, Adam), which builds schools in developing nations; and F— Cancer, founded by Braun’s wife, Yael Cohen, which promotes prevention and early detection of cancer.
In recognition of his efforts, Braun will receive the Humanitarian Award Nov. 9, during the Billboard Touring Awards at the SLS Beverly Hills.
But Braun’s philanthropy has roots far from the glamor of an awards gala: He is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and his father came to the United States as a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. “Hearing these stories, you grow up with this idea that tomorrow is not promised,” says Braun.
He also grew up in a home in Greenwich, Conn., where a room was always available to those who needed a temporary place to stay — or a permanent one. Two teenage boys from Mozambique, Sam Manhanga and Cornelio Guibunda, found shelter in the family home, and later were adopted by Braun’s parents. “They’ve been my brothers ever since,” says Braun.
Braun has encouraged philanthropy in his artists. Bieber raised nearly $1 million for Pencils of Promise on his 2012 Believe Tour. Kelly recorded “Fill a Heart” for the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. Grande raised funds for the No-Kill Los Angeles animal shelter.
And as Braun deals with the stress of the music biz, he says Cohen’s work with cancer patients also gives him perspective.
“My wife deals with real problems,” he says. “My problems aren’t problems — they’re inconveniences.”