Opera student goes viral for singing with star soprano from the audience

The day was sweltering, but the weather didn’t stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager kids. “You don’t have anything illegal there – droids or something?” asks the Stormtrooper, making sure he’s safe from enemies before handing a colorful backpack to a laughing boy.

The man in the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of the four first grant winners of the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint Upworthy and GoFundMe initiative that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is donating $100,000 to grassroots changemakers around the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each person or organization accepted will receive $500 for an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to everyone in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop and ballet. Balance launched a GoFundMe to raise money for tuition for dancers from low-income communities, purchase uniforms for dance teams, and upgrade the facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund brought Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, high school teacher James Pike introduces his students to robotics through a Lego team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his student team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-vs-school matchup featuring robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the expensive $4,000 robot kit. Thanks to the help of the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team has surpassed its original fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team Video Update


3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to solve a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are not enough black tattoo artists. To address the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support black tattoo artists. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark artists to train in an affirmative space between people with similar identities.

To make way for newcomers, the club has recently moved to a larger studio with a third station for students or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that the organization supports exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute GoFundMe proceeds directly to emerging black tattoo artists starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go toward artists’ equipment, supplies, furniture, and other startup costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams raises money for a vacation trip to cheer those in need in all 50 states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr. Yuri will hand out gifts to children, adults and animals dressed as Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool and other movie or cartoon characters. Starting this month, the crew will visit children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bring leashes and toys to animal shelters for those bringing home a new pet, and distribute blessings to those without homes, all in superhero costumes. This is the third time Yuri and his non-profit are making this trip.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to help cover the cost of gifts and travel expenses such as hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 to this charity.

Do you think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you bring kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now until the end of 2021. For questions and more information, check out our FAQs and the Kindness Toolkit for information on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.


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