By this point you’ve probably heard, or at least heard of, the song, “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber. 

From think-pieces to NSFW translations to controversial opinions on the song, “Despacito” has captured hearts and minds across the internet. 

But regardless of your opinions on the song, what’s inevitable is that the song represents a newfound (North) American interest in Latin music and artists. 


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With a population of more than 50 million (and counting) Hispanics in the United States, the market for Spanish-language pop hits has never been greater, and the music world seems to be reflecting this growing cultural diversity in its offerings. 

So what better time, we thought, than to take a look at the Latino/a artists who have made a commitment to giving back in places near and far from the United States — that is, Latino and Latina Global Citizens.

Hailing from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and of course Miami, these artists are building schools, forming charities, and giving back in myriad ways. 

Read More: 9 Inspiring Quotes From Shakira, Pharrell, Trudeau and More at the Global Citizen Festival Hamburg

Here’s how a few of our favorite artists are giving back: 

1. Shakira


A Colombian pop idol for decades, known for hits including “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Waka Waka,” and “Chantaje,” and a Global Citizen, Shakira’s commitment to charity work is unmatched. 

Shakira, who often goes by the nickname “Shak,” founded her charity Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Foundation) at the age of just 18 to support children living in poverty. 

Since then, she hasn’t looked back — opening schools, donating millions of dollars for natural disaster response initiatives, and teaching her own child what it means to be a Global Citizen. 

“I want my child to grow up in a fair and just world,” she told People magazine, “knowing he too can be an agent of change.”

2. Juanes 

You’ve probably encountered his song “La Camisa Negra” in Spanish class. But did you know that Shakira’s male counterpart from Colombia, Juanes, is also quite the humanitarian? 

Juanes has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the past 12-plus years, with a focus on internally-displaced refugees in his native Colombia. 

3. Marc Anthony

New York City-born artist Marc Anthony is the best-selling tropical/salsa artist of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and also a committed humanitarian. 

Anthony’s non-profit, Maestro Cares, builds and supports orphanages throughout Latin America — in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. In 2016, he opened an orphanage exclusively for girls in Toluca, Mexico, taking 70 young girls off the streets and providing them with safe, stable housing and an education.

4. Residente 


In November 2015, Calle 13 rapper Residente (born Rene Perez) made history as the first-ever Latino artist to be honored at the Nobel Peace Summit for his humanitarian work and his “hard-hitting lyrics.”

The somewhat controversial artist has worked with the UN to combat human trafficking, as well as with Amnesty International and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

5. Lin-Manuel Miranda 

If there were an award for most creative charity fundraising, that award would most certainly go to Puerto Rico’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer of the “Hamilton” musical. 


Last year, Miranda’s Prizeo "Your Shot" fundraiser, which gave “Hamilton” super-fans the opportunity to attend the musical and meet the cast, raised $2 million for the Hispanic Federation, which works with the US hispanic community on education, housing, and health initiatives. 

This year, he took things to the next level, starting a singing competition to raise money for the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, an advocacy and legal aid organization for immigrants, refugees, and asylees. 

Read More: ‘Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)’ Might Already Be the Music Video of the Year

6. Maluma 


This winter, after Colombian reggaeton phenom Maluma heard about the spate of forest fires decimating Chile, he jumped at the opportunity to help out. He donated 100% of the proceeds from his 20,000-person sold-out show to the victims of the blazes. 

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“It’s the least I can do for my Chilean brothers,” he wrote on Instagram

7. Gloria Estefan


Grammy-award-winning Miami Cuban singer Gloria Estefan is more than just a noted-singer, and philanthropist. She’s also an entrepreneur who in 2000 raised $40 million to build the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami, which houses the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. 

8. Pitbull


Mr. Worldwide is also Mr. Education? In 2013, the “Give Me Everything” rapper, who hails from Miami’s Little Havana, opened up the Sports Leadership And Management Academy (SLAM), a charter school focused at engaging struggling students through sports. 

“These kids are so creative,” the rapper told NPR, “but no one believes in them.” 

9. Jennifer Lopez


In 2014, singer J-Lo, or “Jenny From the Block,” took on another title: Global Advocate for Girls and Women at the UN Foundation. Since then, the artist has worked with women and girls around the world on health and education initiatives through her Lopez Family Foundation. 

Before 2014, she worked with health clinics in Panama and Puerto Rico, but also in her native Bronx, New York, where her educational initiatives informed youth about nutritional health. 

10. Ricky Martin


Singer Ricky Martin has lived quite the vida loca, but has nonetheless has also found the time to give back to the community through the Ricky Martin Foundation, which aims to eliminate human trafficking. 

Martin, who was born in 1971, has worked extensively with UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration, as well as Habitat for Humanity’s Tsunami Relief Fund in Thailand. 

11. Daddy Yankee 

Remember all that talk of “Despacito” from earlier? 

Well, “Despacito” rapper Daddy Yankee has also dabbled in charity work. In 2009, the Puerto Rican rapper opened Daddy's House, a children’s center in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He’s also been known to drop in on students to offer some words of wisdom, and in June he stopped by a children’s hospital in Madrid for an impromptu “Despacito” duet with a cancer patient



Demand Equity

The 11 Biggest Global Citizens in Latin Music Right Now

By Phineas Rueckert