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Feeding the Soul: Jon Bon Jovi's Charity Benefiting Needy Youth and Veterans Sets Sights on Nevada, DC

ISSUE 5 2019 - DO NOT REUSE
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Bon Jovi

Since 2006, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has helped fund over 600 units of affordable and supportive housing in 10 states for thousands of people, including veterans, by partnering with other nonprofit organizations dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty, hunger and homelessness.

In February, the Philadelphia-based foundation, which has a four-star "exceptional" rating from nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, began working in its 11th state with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, to raise funds for a facility in southern Nevada. The foundation has pledged to match additional donations up to $100,000.

"The high rate of youth homelessness and the dire need for housing in southern Nevada was distressing to us," foundation chairman Jon Bon Jovi said in a statement. "We are pledging support for this campaign through a matching grant because we want to motivate others to take action."

"We knew that getting the JBJ Soul Foundation involved in southern Nevada would be a great catalyst for our community, having seen the amazing results they have accomplished in other parts of the country," Ron Reese, senior vp global communications and corporate affairs at Las Vegas Sands, which also donated $100,000, said in the statement.

Thanks to the JBJ Soul Foundation’s partnership with Help USA, the next facility to open -- potentially as early as October -- will offer 77 units for homeless veterans at The Parks at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C.

When reviewing grants for housing, "one of the biggest pieces we look for is that it involves social services for whoever is living in the facility," says Heather Goldfarb, the foundation’s executive director. "We have found that the services are key to helping those who live within, whether it’s through helping them find employment or going back to school." Grants range from a few thousand dollars up to $750,000, says Goldfarb.

Several years ago, foundation executives realized it was impossible to separate the issues of hunger and homelessness. So it expanded its mission to fund JBJ Soul Kitchens -- in the New Jersey towns of Red Bank and Toms River -- to provide free meals to those in need. During the recent government shutdown, it extended the service to furloughed federal workers.

Next up: This spring, the JBJ Soul Foundation will open a Soul Kitchen on a college campus it declines to identify, as a pilot program. If it performs well, says Goldfarb, the kitchen could open full time in the fall.

Goldfarb notes the need for the foundation’s services is still growing. "We see it in the asks that are coming in on the housing and the hunger side," she says. "In terms of numbers, I don’t think the [need] has gone down at all."

This article originally appeared in the March 2 issue of Billboard.