Discover the serious side to this great entertainer, who is this years BET Awards Humanitarian Award winner.
These days Steve Harvey is a famous comedian, actor and host on radio and TV—but his life wasn’t always so glamorous. The celebrated entertainer realized his dreams of success only after years of hard work and struggle. Born the son of a West Virginia coal miner, Steve Harvey went on to graduate from Kent State University, and worked as an insurance salesman and a mailman before tapping into his comedic talents. Never forgetting where he came from, he has expanded his humanitarian efforts over the years, driven by a genuine passion for helping others.
Harvey began his philanthropic work in the year 2000, organizing book drives and technology upgrades in Los Angeles area schools. He personally donated more than $35,000 to underprivileged children in Jamaica, but Harvey soon realized that gifts and donations were not enough. So he decided to dig deeper, giving of his time, his contacts and his experience. In the 11 years since, he has established the Steve Harvey Foundation, helping countless individuals pursue their career and educational dreams.
“Dreaming is more important than anything,” says Steve Harvey. “Dreams fuel our imaginations, inspire our passions and make the impossible come to life right before our eyes.”
In 2007, Harvey partnered with Walt Disney World on the annual Disney Dreamers Academy. The program gathers 100 high school children from across the country to expose them to new opportunities and teach them how to make their dreams come true.
Two years later he launched the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men. This four-day program brings together 100 young men, providing “Manhood Experience” training. The goal is to help them see beyond their current circumstances and give them the tools to become productive members of society who are balanced emotionally, politically and economically. Knowing the power of men teaching other men, Steve Harvey dared to dream his most powerful dream yet: to save a generation of forgotten young boys.
“It's time for us as Black men to step up and be what we're supposed to be,” he says. “And I found that the best way to go about that is to produce better men.”
He’s talking about young men like Jordan Rollerson, who attended the first mentorship weekend in 2009. He went on to graduate high school with a 4.5 GPA and earn a four-year scholarship to the University of Texas from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “I have come from the same hood, maybe worse than these young men, and I am from a single parent home but I have overcome,” said Jordan Rollerson. “Mr. Harvey really blessed me.”
There is still much work to be done, but Steve Harvey and his wife, Marjorie, embody the adage: to whom much is given, much is required.
And he’s still dreaming as big as ever. “I think if we get them at a younger age,” Harvey says, “and start teaching these young brothers the principles of manhood: That real men go to work every day; real men honor God; real men respect and adore women—that's what real men do.”
BET honors Steve Harvey, Humanitarian, at the 2011 BET Awards live on June 26 at 8P/7C.
(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)