Madonna's Raising Malawi scraps school-building project after sinking in $3.8 million


Image Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Madonna’s high-profile effort to build a $15 million school in the impoverished country of Malawi has collapsed after her organization put $3.8 million into the now-abandoned project.

Raising Malawi—the charity Madonna co-founded with fellow Kabbalah enthusiast Michael Berg—announced that in spite of the $18 million raised thus far, the project has been shelved.

“A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, as it was originally conceived,” Berg said in an email to past contributors.

An explanation as to why this project was abandoned has not been given, but it’s worth noting that last October the organization’s executive director—Philippe Van Den Bossche, the boyfriend of Madonna’s former trainer Tracy Andersonstepped down after auditors decried the organization’s excessive expenditures for a school-building project that had not even broken ground.

Madonna issued a statement promising that the $18 million Raising Malawi has already brought together—much of it through Hollywood fundraising and the Kabbalah Centre International, of which Berg is the co-director—will still go toward unnamed charitable efforts in Malawi.

“There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,” she said. “Sixty-seven percent of girls don’t go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable. Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can.”

Following Van Den Bossche’s exit, Madonna brought in Trevor Neilson—a founder of Global Philanthropy Group and a charity advisor to Bono and President Bill Clinton—for consultation. Paraphrasing Neilson, the New York Times says that “he told her that building an expensive school in Malawi was an ineffective form of philanthropy, and suggested instead using resources to finance education programs through existing and proven non-governmental organizations.”

Whether the millions of dollars Raising Malawi is sitting on will go toward existing charities (as Neilson suggested) or another original project conceived by the organization remains to be seen.

What do you think—can this situation be salvaged?

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Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • Ramona Maintanis

    What a shame- what a sham that $3.8 million is squandered like that- where is the monitoring- MADONNA shd have all those folks who bought new cars return the cash and give the funds to a better organization to help these kids get their school built AND- MADONNA shd personally be the watchdog of this project since her name and reputation are on the line- what credibility will she have after this- NONE!!!! She will be known as Just another celeb with words and no action- Give the fund tothe haitian kids

    • Leslie

      She is so beautiful and brilliant, such sensual breathe and glistening chest in the moonlight and LesbianMatchmakers was amazing

  • SuperAmanda

    Give me a break. Madonna is trying to do good in this world. Mistakes are made and it is unfortunate that she is taken advantage of. She has given millions of her own money to build orphanages. What have you done?

    • Jean Genie

      Even “smart” people make messes. If I did something that significant, I’d make sure not to fail so hard.

  • Roger C.

    $15 million for a school in Malawi?

    What an idiot.

    That could build a university there. A school shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred grand.

  • James Bima

    Falsefully fund raising in the name of Malawi. What a shame.

  • diana ephlin

    Tracy Anderson has”nt dated Phillippe Vandebosshe for over a year-where is your fact checking???

  • Chif


  • efrain

    Madonna has enough money to build the school herself. She doesn’t need to ask other people for money.

  • South African Home Schooling

    It’s too bad the project failed. Africa needs quality education

  • Carrie Higby

    If anyone seriously thinks Madonna was fraudulently raising money for Malawi; Not only are you unbelievably ignorant, but stupid as well. You don’t think She has that amount already, plus millions more?? She is doing good in the world, what are YOU doing?

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