Music News 6.29.17

Renee Zellweger Donates $50,000 Prize to SIMS Foundation

Former Austinite Renee Zellweger was recently presented with the 2017 Changemaker Award at the Greenwich International Film Festival on June 1st. The Changemaker Award honors “artists who have used their public platform and the power of film to further positive social change,” and comes with a $50,000 prize. Zellweger took that prize and immediately donated the entire sum to the SIMS Foundation here in Austin.

The foundation was founded in 1995 after beloved Pariah bassist and songwriter Sims Ellison lost his personal battle with depression by taking his own life. Ellison’s father Don, alongside Austin Rehearsal Complex co-owners Don Harvey and Wayne Nagel attorney Walter Taylor, and Alejandro Escovedo reacted to the tragedy by forming an organization dedicated to connecting musicians in the community with the mental health and substance abuse services they need. Zellweger dated Sims Ellison through much of the early 90s while Ellison’s career was on a hard rise and she was making her name as a local actress.

22 years strong, the SIMS Foundation is one of Austin’s largest and best-known nonprofits, having spawned successes like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, and raising millions of dollars in the name of mental health for Austin’s music community with 98% of clients reporting improvement in symptoms after engaging SIMS services.

GREENWICH, CT - JUNE 01: Renee Zellweger speaks on stage during the Changemaker Honoree Gala during the Greenwich International Film Festival on June 1, 2017 in Greenwich, Connecticut. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Greenwich International Film Festival)
(Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Greenwich International Film Festival)

Lady Gaga Partners with Staples to Fund Classrooms with Supplies and Postive Environments

Lady Gaga also adds a new feather in her cap of altruism. She stopped by a Hollywood-area middle school to film a commercial announcing a new fundraising campaign with Staples for her Born This Way Foundation and, which uses donations to fund projects and supplies for classrooms around the nation.

The new Staples for Students campaign kicked things off with $2 million in donations and a contest via Staples to award a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to Las Vegas to see Lady Gaga perform and meet her in person. Gaga’s PSA will air on all major networks as well lean into the fall and the back-to-school season.


-Taylor Wallace

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