Will.i.am: ‘I Use My Own Money’-‘I Went Out There and Created This Program in the Ghetto’ to Help People
(CNSNews.com) – Grammy Award-winning musician and entrepreneur will.i.am expressed frustration with Washington on Sunday’s "Meet the Press" and said that in supporting President Barack Obama people also needed to dedicate themselves to solving problems and added that he had raised money and used his own funds to start a program to help people in the ghetto.
Will.i.am, whose real name is William James Adams, also raised questions about why it is difficult for entrepreneurs to build products in America versus going overseas where they might even get a grant to produce something abroad.
At one point during the May 4 program, host David Gregory and his guests talked about how to get younger people to stay engaged politically and to vote, and Gregory asked will.i.am whether there was “disappointment among people who maybe thought the federal government under President Obama could do more, could get so some of these things that are bigger priorities?”
Will.i.am said the problem was not disappointment but “frustration” with the way government works, which leads people to “turn off” politically. He then said, “So it`s like when I went out there and said, 'yes, we can' -- yes, we can means what are you going to do as well as when you support Obama? Are you going to dedicate yourself to finding solutions?”
“So I went out there and created this program in the ghetto that I came from, that I come from, and I can change that, right?” said will.i.am, who is the founder of the hip-hop group The Black-Eyed Peas. “I go off and raise money. I use my own money. I adopted these kids. I give these kids, you know, amped up about science and technology.”
“These kids are at risk, they could have been in a gang-type kids,” he said. “And now these kids they went from a .74 -- now they`ve got a 3.8, 4.0. These kids have been to China to learn Mandarin. They have been to D.C. to take a visit to the White House. MIT. These kids want to join MIT -- I mean, get enrolled in MIT to not only look for jobs, but to create jobs.”
In 2009, will.i.am launched the i.am.angel foundation. According to its website, the foundation administers “charitable activities and programs targeted towards providing college scholarships (i.am scholarship), financial literacy and home mortgage assistance (i.am Home) and college preparation and student life (i.am College Track).”
The foundation also emphasizes the educational approach STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Following will.i.am’s comments about how he is working to help people in the ghetto, guest Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said, “I love that he's doing that. It`s the private sector that grows the economy, that makes a difference in people’s lives. It’s not big federal government.”
“And the disconnect, the reason that apathy happens is because government is not going to come in and solve all their problems,” said Chaffetz. “Health care is a major issue now.”
Will.i.am then asked Chaffetz, “Why is it -- why when you politicians say what private sector should do, the only thing you can use is health care as the thing that fails? What about, like, making the consumer electronic product?”
“Why is it, if I went to Singapore and created jobs I would get a grant, and it`s hard for a person, an entrepreneur, to come out with a product in America -- where do you go?” said will.i.am.
Chaffetz answered that the problem for entrepreneurs was “regulation, the EPA, the over- burdensome federal government that makes it so difficult at every step.”
Will.i.am has won seven Grammy Awards. He is the frontman and founder of The Black Eyed Peas, which have sold 31 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide. He wrote the song “Yes, We Can,” which was widely received during the 2008 presidential campaign. He is also the founding shareholder of Beats Electronics, and is involved in a variety of educational activities emphasizing science, technology and the arts.
Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.