Cause Celeb

Can star power create social change?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Celeb: Natalie Merchant, adult contemporary singer

Cause: Jamestown, N.Y., Boys and Girls Club

What she’s done: Monetary donations and personal appearances

What celeb gets: A chance to give back to her own hometown

What cause gets: Money for teen pregnancy prevention and academic assistance programs; a chance to let potentially bored and troubled kids meet a local girl made good.

Connection between celeb and cause: Unlike most celebrities and their causes, Merchant has an organic connection with Jamestown Boys and Girls Club: She was a child member of the Jamestown Girls Club (before it merged with the Boys Club), says the club’s executive director, Judy Moore.

Chance celeb will humiliate cause: Merchant’s earnest singing persona fits snugly with the club’s approach to life’s travails. She’s not apt to let them down.

What good came of this? Neither Merchant’s publicists nor Moore will reveal the precise amount of her donations (Merchant’s publicists don’t want it to be seen as a publicity ploy), but Moore said it was enough to hire a new counselor. In 1997, Jamestown made news as the place where one man allegedly infected nearly a dozen local teen girls with HIV. Only time will tell if another counselor can prevent a similar incident.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend