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Giving Back

MArc ANthony receives Spirit of Hope award.

Leila Cobo

His advocacy and altruism have focused mainly on health and education efforts for children and youth in the United States in general, and in his hometown of New York in particular.

From his recently created Marc Anthony Scholarship Fund, which gives grants to students pursuing careers in media and the arts, to his support of the Children\'s Health Fund (CHF), Make-a-Wish Foundation, Run for Something Better and similar groups, Anthony aims to help specific recipients in tangible ways.

Anthony is the 2010 recipient of Billboard\'s Spirit of Hope Award, given to an artist to recognize his or her altruistic and philanthropic endeavors. He will be honored during the 21st annual Billboard Latin Music Awards, which will air live April 29 on the Telemundo network.

Anthony will also sit for an exclusive, in-depth Q&A during the Billboard Latin Music Conference April 28.

"I believe it\'s a responsibility, an obligation as an artist and a human being," Anthony says of his commitment to giving. "For a while now, I have helped organizations that focus on children\'s health and well-being, and if through my voice and wherewithal I am able to raise funds for these causes and create awareness about what is needed, I am committed."

Anthony says that the cause closest to his heart may be the CHF, with which he\'s been associated for more than 10 years. That association began after he starred in the Broadway musical "The Capeman," directed by Paul Simon. Simon co-founded the CHF with Dr. Irwin Redlener to develop and provide health programs and care to underserved children.

"Marc was very attracted by the mission of the organization," Redlener says, noting that, aside from Simon, Anthony is the organization\'s major celebrity partner. "He\'s acutely aware that some people in our society have everything their children need and some don\'t, and I think that fundamentally troubles Marc."

Anthony has not only donated money to the CHF through the years but also has provided connections and outreach, been available at events and is a member of CHF\'s advisory council. Now, Redlener says, he\'s also tapped Anthony to play a major role in an upcoming Hispanic children\'s initiative as well as one to help children newly arrived from Haiti.

Anthony has been visibly associated with Run for Something Better, an ING Foundation program dedicated to fostering a healthy lifestyle and physical activity among children. The program launched in 2006, the year Anthony launched his Juntos en Concierto tour, where he promoted the program and served as its ambassador. On subsequent Juntos tours in 2007 and 2008, Anthony donated $1 of every ticket sold to the program, raising nearly $200,000. Beyond the money, ING VP of multicultural sales Fabian Gonzalez says, more than 60,000 children have been involved in the program since its inception.

"Child obesity is a very serious problem, and having Marc as a spokesperson opened doors," Gonzalez says, noting that Anthony has also served as spokesman for Orange Laces, the campaign that raises funds for Run for Something Better. The program has raised more than $2.5 million that has been distributed to schools with physical education programs, Gonzalez says.

Anthony has also been a steady collaborator with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Fraternal Order of Police in New York. In the past year, the singer has expanded his philanthropic reach, working with Miami-based Amigos for Kids and, most recently, setting up a scholarship for Latino college students.

His most recent endeavor is the Marc Anthony Scholarship Fund, which was announced last September and is being administered by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Anthony seeded the scholarship with $50,000, an amount that\'s expected to grow between now and June, when the program officially launches.

Reflecting what others say about Anthony\'s efforts, CHF\'s Redlener says, "He has extraordinary sensitivity about children in general. For an organization like ours, which is so dependent on the generosity of others, having Marc associated with us is very meaningful."