September 22, 2023

Kanye West’s Charity Closes

The charity named for the rapper Kanye West that was intended to reduce high school dropout rates has closed mysteriously.

Its former executive director, Joseph Collins, sent an e-mail to associates last month, telling them that he was looking for a job because the charity, the Kanye West Foundation, had closed, and its phone has been disconnected.

“I am reaching out to let you know that the Kanye West Foundation ( has officially closed it doors after a successful 4+ years of programming and events,” Mr. Collins wrote in the e-mail, which was given to The New York Times by executives from two nonprofit groups that had worked with the organization. “It has been an incredible experience working with Kanye and the board to realize his mother’s vision and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to lead the Foundation.”

Reached by phone, Mr. Collins declined to comment. “You’d have to get in touch with Mr. West,” he said.

Efforts to reach Mr. West failed, however. Mr. West’s agency, WME Entertainment, referred calls about the closing of the charity to the performer’s publicist, Gabriel Tesoriero, but Mr. Tesoriero did not respond to e-mail sent to the address the agency provided.

Nor did a representative for Universal Music, where Mr. Tesoriero works, return a call.

Michelynn Woodard, listed as the organization’s chairwoman, did not respond to e-mails or phone messages.

The charity filed tax forms as if it were a private foundation, but it does not appear to have been financed by Mr. West, instead raising the bulk of its money from companies and individuals with whom Mr. West does business.

In 2009, for instance, Madison Square Garden gave it $151,754, and the retailer Karmaloop donated $20,000. The previous year, the charity received contributions from the concert promoters Live Nation Music Group and Goldenvoice.

The charity raised an average of $492,000 and made total grants averaging $18,080 in each of 2007, 2008 and 2009, the last year for which tax forms are available.

Grant-making slowed drastically — in 2009, the charity made just $563 in grants — after the death of Mr. West’s mother, Donda West, in 2007 from complications of plastic surgery. Dr. West was an English professor, according to the charity’s Web site, who founded the organization because she “was passionate about student success.”

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