Oprah Winfrey is not throwing away her shot to make a difference in Puerto Rico.
Winfrey announced she’s donating $2 million to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria relief on Monday, and Lin-Manuel Miranda — the award-winning composer and actor known for creating and starring in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton — was part of her inspiration for doing so.
The funds will help the island rebuild and support arts and cultural programs. Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and killed an estimated 3,000 people, destroyed homes and infrastructure, and left much of the island without drinking water or electricity.
Winfrey will donate $1 million to the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program to Support Puerto Rico, to help develop and implement long-term needs. Another $1 million will be allocated for the Flamboyan Arts Fund to preserve arts, culture and creative development on the island.
“I was so moved by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s commitment to bring Hamilton to Puerto Rico and support the community that served him growing up that I wanted to join in the revitalization efforts of an island so rich in culture, beauty, and heritage,” Winfrey said in a statement released by the Hispanic Federation.
Miranda helped create the Flamboyan Fund to promote arts and youth education in Puerto Rico. He organized a short run of Hamilton in January 2019 to fundraise for Flamboyan and raised $15 million.
People applauded Winfrey’s generosity on Twitter. Ana Violeta Navarro-Cárdenas, co-host of daytime talk show The View, pointed out that Winfrey is stepping in while the Trump administration has tried to cut aid.
Private citizens like Oprah make large donations to aid Puerto Rico (applause) but the "President of the U.S." (which Puerto Rico is part of) cuts off funding. It has been 565 days since Puerto Rico had full power. https://t.co/LWRjdUrrh4 via @NYDNi— Denise Oliver-Velez (@Deoliver47) April 9, 2019
Hurricane Maria’s damage is still felt across Puerto Rico. Residents were still being connected back to the island’s power grid in March. Pervasive food insecurity and lack of access to health care suggest the recovery may take longer than expected. Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher said it will cost $11 billion and up to seven years to repair schools devastated by the storm.
The Hispanic Federation is the biggest contributor to Puerto Rico’s recovery. The organization is helping coordinate hundreds of donation drives in the US, distributing millions of pounds of food and water to help residents meet their basic needs.
“The needs of Puerto Rico and our fellow American citizens following the tragic hurricanes are still very real, and the work that has already been done by the Hispanic Federation, Flamboyan Arts Fund, and other organizations on and off the island is long from over,” Winfrey said.