George Lucas pledges funds for diversity in entertainment

In an effort to increase the number of minority storytellers in the entertainment industry, USC announced yesterday that the George Lucas Family Foundation will apportion $10 million from a previous donation to fund the education and recruitment of black and Hispanic students.

“This gift will nurture the next generation of artists, supporting scholarships that enhance access in the cinematic arts, while bringing new and diverse voices and stories into our lives,” President C. L. Max Nikias told USC News.

This money is a portion of the George Lucas Family Foundation’s original 2006 pledge of $175 million to the School of Cinematic Arts. Of this amount, $75 million was used for the school’s reconstruction and renaming. This student support fund will be drawn from the remaining $100 million.

With this donation, the Star Wars creator and class of 1966 alumnus will establish the George Lucas Family Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity. Specifically, the fund aims to give undergraduate and graduate black or Hispanic students priority consideration for the financial support it will provide.

His partner on the initiative is his wife, Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dreamworks Animation. The fund’s support will be equally distributed among male and female students, who will be known as either George Lucas Scholars or Mellody Hobson Scholars.

In March 2014, Hobson gave a TED Talk on diversity in business and its positive societal and professional externalities. Nikias called Hobson and her husband “inspiring leaders in their fields.” Their gift contributes to USC’s campaign to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy.