Spielberg donates Genesis Prize money to justice nonprofits

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Steven Spielberg

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, file photo, filmmaker Steven Spielberg poses at the 2019 “An Unforgettable Evening” benefiting the Women’s Cancer Research Fund, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Spielberg has been awarded Israel’s prestigious 2021 Genesis Prize, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Organizers of the $1 million prize say the filmmaker was chosen in recognition of his contribution to cinema, his philanthropic works and his efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Steven Spielberg said Thursday that he will donate his $1 million Genesis Prize to 10 nonprofits that are working for racial and economic justice. The film director and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, will match those donations with $1 million of their own.

In February, Spielberg received Israel’s prestigious 2021 Genesis Prize in recognition of his contribution to cinema, his philanthropic works and his efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.

“America is facing a crisis, and our responsibility is to act now,” Spielberg said in a statement, adding that Judaism and Jewish history provide “the ethical precepts commanding us to work for a more just and equitable world.”

Spielberg will donate to Avodah, Black Voters Matter, Collaborative for Jewish Organizing, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, Jews of Color Initiative, Justice for Migrant Women, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Native American Rights Fund, One Fair Wage and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“We admire these organizations for their honesty and moral imagination and urge all those who share this vision to join us, so that the work of these non-profits may continue and grow,” Spielberg said in a statement.

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Dayenu’s founder and CEO, said the group was honored by the donation.

“This grant is a timely recognition that climate justice is a Jewish issue, and that confronting the climate crisis requires addressing racial and economic injustice,” Rosenn said in a statement.

Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation, wrote in a statement: “Our democratic foundations are being challenged, and the COVID crisis has further increased social and economic disparities. Steven Spielberg’s decision to focus his Genesis Prize on the pursuit of racial and economic justice reflects the urgent need for us to act.”

President Joe Biden congratulated Spielberg for the award in a letter released Thursday.

“Steven, I am inspired by the ways in which your Judaism has compelled you to confront the ugly forces of hate and intolerance with the healing power of truth and love,” Biden wrote. “This is a timeless struggle and is a worthy cause to which I proudly join you in pledging my devotion.”

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