Purple Flame. Purple Flame

The secret (and philanthropic) life of Prince

Anyone w26333444600_077f04fc49_bho followed the very public career of Prince, or ‘The Artist Formally Known As”, could be forgiven for thinking that his lasting legacy is all about his music. But following the iconic performer’s untimely death earlier this year, one of his closest friends has revealed a very different and somewhat more benevolent side to the pop superstar.

His friend, ally and confidant Vin Jones recently revealed in an interview with CNN that even though Prince prepared no will and left no heirs to his pop music estate, he left behind a legacy of better lives for thousands of people because he used his wealth and fame to become a quiet, almost secret humanitarian.

Tax records show Prince created — and largely funded — the Love 4 One Another charity that has donated millions of dollars over the years to schools, homeless shelters, and community programs in at least nine states. He even launched a tour in 1997 to subsidize its charitable giving.

Jones says that as a Jehovah’s Witness, Prince was not allowed to discuss his humanitarian work. But his tragic passing has lead Jones to speak up:

“He did not want it to be known publicly, but I’m going to say it because the world needs to know that it wasn’t just the music.”

“He helped to create ‘Yes We Code’ which now has 15 major technology companies working with kids in the ‘hood’, getting them ready to have jobs in Silicon Valley. That was Prince.”

“He also worked for something called ‘Green for All’. I was the public face of that, but he helped put the money in. There are people who have solar panels on their houses now in Oakland, California, that don’t know Prince paid for.”

Prince quietly supported his friend Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream charity and its YesWeCode initiative, which has a mission of training 100,000 low-opportunity young adults for high-paying careers in technology.

Jones says the idea for YesWeCode took root when he was discussing race relations with his friend after the Trayvon Martin verdict, in which a white police officer was acquitted of shooting dead the unarmed 17-year-old African American high school student during an altercation between the two.

Jones told USA TODAY last year, “Every time you see a black kid wearing a hoodie, you say: There’s a thug. If you see a white kid wearing hoodie, you say: There’s Mark Zuckerberg,”

“I said, ‘That’s because of racism. And Prince said, ‘Maybe so, or maybe you civil rights guys haven’t created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.’ ”

Prince saw the idea as a way to “teach black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.”

As Jones told CNN, Prince was passionate about finding ways to diversify the technology field.  Prince “really believed that young people could change the world,” said Jones.

Along with Jay Z, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and other artists, Prince performed in a charity concert this past October which raised $1.5 million for Black Lives Matter. “He believed in the Black Lives Matter kids so much—and he had a dream for them,” Jones told CNN. “He said, ‘I hope that they become an economic force. I hope that they use their genius to start businesses.'”

Jones also revealed the artist made countless other, quiet contributions to charities and people who were hospitalized. He gave free concert tickets to deaf and blind students, and even popped into public schools to surprise and encourage students.

However, those who met with and benefitted from Princes’ philanthropic acts recall that he remained humble and modest at all times. During each act of kindness Prince had only one request:

“Just don’t say anything about it.”

 

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