While Prince may have publicly impacted the world through his music, the private artist also did so much good in the background. A true humanitarian, he was constantly involved in charity behind the scenes, including the nonprofit #YesWeCode.
While publicly a music genius, privately Prince did much to help young people from minority backgrounds. It has recently come to light that the superstar was the inspiration behind an Oakland nonprofit #YesWeCode, an organization that works with young people from those minority backgrounds and helps them to enter the technical world.
Quartz reports that the program was born following the 2012 shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin and during a conversation between Prince and a friend, Van Jones, who heads the Rebuild the Dream charity.
#Prince was the driving force behind the initiative #YesWeCode, which aims to help 100,000 urban youth work in tech. https://t.co/biMG7S2DNKQuartz quotes a report by CNN, in which Jones said, "Prince said … 'A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let's teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.'"
— EdWeek Teacher (@EdWeekTeacher) April 27, 2016
The program was launched at the 20th Anniversary Essence Festival in New Orleans in 2014, and is aiming to teach 100,000 low-income non-white teens how to write code. At the festival, Prince headlined, but only on the condition that #YesWeCode was included in the event.
Reportedly since then, the organization has 15 technology companies working with youth to help them prepare for jobs in Silicon Valley.
Following the superstar's recent death, the nonprofit organization's website has set up a page thanking Prince for everything he has done. In a statement on that page, Jones says, "Prince's commitment to ensuring young people of color have a voice in the tech sector continues to impact the lives of future visionaries creating the tech of tomorrow."
"When you think about how great he was as a musician, just please understand that's a part of the greatness."Since then, Jones, who was a former White House advisor on green jobs, has revealed more of Prince's good works, saying The Purple One also helped to fund the environmental group Green for All. The nonprofit organization was founded by Jones and its aim is to bring solar panels to Oakland.
"There are people who have solar panels on their houses... that don't know Prince paid for [them]." - @VanJones68 https://t.co/F3ioJcVkhwSpeaking to CNN, Jones explained that he was the public face of Green for All, but it was Prince that financed it, saying, "There are people who have solar panels on their houses now in Oakland, California, that don't know Prince paid for [them]."
— Climate Reality (@ClimateReality) April 27, 2016
Besides pushing for solar power for Oakland residents, Green for All also helps to create green jobs in disadvantaged communities and the campaign is supported by many environmental advocates, including the actor and eco-activist Mark Ruffalo.
As reported by Ecowatch, Jones told CNN in the interview that the musician didn't want his charitable work to be known publicly, but he wanted to say it because the world "needs to know that it wasn't just the music."
"The music was one way he tried to help the world. But he was helping every day of his life."According to Jones, it was partly Prince's faith as a Jehovah's Witness that stopped him speaking publicly about his charity work, but reportedly the music star was constantly giving to charity anonymously and making calls behind the scenes to enlist support in causes that needed help.
Jones went on to say that if there was anyone struggling, anywhere in the world, Prince was "sending checks, he was making phone calls."
The interview between CNN and Van Jones is included above.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]