Oprah Gives $500K to NJ After-School Program Keeping Kids off the Street

Claudine Varela
May 20, 2019
05:41 A.M.

Oprah Winfrey surprised students in a school in Newark by donating half a million dollars to further it's school's principal's cause. The media mogul also hosted a pizza party and handed out gift certificates to the students.


Oprah Winfrey extended her generous hand yet again this time to a school in New Jersey. She donated a whopping half a million dollars.


The OWN founder pledged the staggering amount during her visit to West Side High School in New York whose principal, Akbar Cook famously created the “Lights On” program. The project allows Akbar’s students to have a place to go on Friday nights and aims to keep them away from dangerous and unproductive activities.


Oprah got wind of the project and decided to help fund it. On a Friday evening, she surprised Cook and nearly 400 students by showing up and extending her offer.

"So I heard about West Side and all the great things that are happening here,” she told the students in a clip uploaded on Oprah Magazine's Instagram. She revealed she was holding a pizza party for everyone.

Cheers followed her announcement and even rang louder when Oprah revealed her sizeable donation.

"I thought, what else can I do? So I'm going to leave here tonight and leave you with a half a million dollars.”

"We did it! We did it!" Oprah sang and danced for joy later in the clip, happy with what she accomplished.


Apart from his “Lights On’ project, Akbar installed a laundry room in his school to cater to bullied students.


Akbar’s efforts first came to the public’s attention after it was featured by Jeff Glor on CBS Evening News. Shortly after, Ellen DeGeneres picked up on his story and had him on her show.

Apart from his “Lights On’ project, Akbar installed a laundry room in his school to cater to bullied students. He found out that some of them skipped school ashamed of being ridiculed for wearing dirty clothes.

Ellen responded by donating $50,000 to the school by way of her “One Million Acts of Good” partnership with Cheerios which also pledged a one-year-supply of food for the school’s pantry.

Akbar’s kindness certainly went a long way. His good deeds have been rewarded tenfold.

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