Skip to the main content

Lady Gaga Testifies at Harvard on Behalf of Born This Way Foundation

Pop icon stands before distinguished panel including Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Alyssa Rodemeyer, Professor Charles Ogletree, Dr. Susan M. Swearer and David Burtka

Boston, MA (February 29, 2012) – Today at Harvard University, Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, officially unveiled Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a new non-profit charitable organization, before a crowd of policy makers, non-profit organizations, foundation leaders, students and youth at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Askwith Forum.

The day opened with Oprah interviewing Lady Gaga about her commitment to empowering youth before a packed audience at Sanders Theatre. Lady Gaga then took the stand in a mock trial to testify before a panel of expert “judges” about what she hopes to accomplish with BTWF. Panelists included Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, sister of Jamey Rodemeyer  Alyssa Rodemeyer, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, Psychologist Susan M. Swearer and E! News correspondent and LGBT parent and spouse David Burtka.

“The culture of love is not going to change overnight but youth are the answer to creating a braver, kinder world,” said Lady Gaga. “This might be one of the best days of my live.”

BTWF will address issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy. BTWF will create an environment that allows youth to safely express their individuality and one that provides them with the skills needed to encourage self- expression and promote civic engagement, and the resources and opportunities needed to implement solutions whether it be “online, on-the-road, or down the street.” With a focus on digital mobilization to create positive change, BTWF will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be.

The Born This Way Foundation also announced today that Lady Gaga has made a $1.2 million personal contribution to BTWF, dedicating $200,000 to cover the foundation’s overhead costs. Barneys New York has raised more than $750,000 for the foundation through product sales from Gaga’s 2011 Holiday Workshop, and has donated an additional $100,000. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is also committing $1 million in support, with $500,000 going to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to lead research efforts, and the remaining $500,000 directly allocated to BTWF to support online and on-the-road efforts to engage young people in civic life and deter bullying.

“Like everything my daughter has done, this is a grassroots initiative asking for the response of the community to help build this movement and shape it, said Cynthia Germanotta. “Therefore a safe and trusted online community will allow users to share stories about themselves and their lives. Supporters can draw courage from the words of others as they explore Born This Way Foundation’s online community.”

The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society are partnering with BTWF to explore the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment.

“MacArthur’s partnership with the Born This Way Foundation will apply what we have learned about the power and potential of digital media to reach and engage millions of young people,” said Connie Yowell, MacArthur’s Director of Education. “In classrooms and communities, online and even on-the-road, this effort will enable teachers, parents, students, and communities each do their part to promote positive civic and online participation.”

To engage youth on-the-road, the Born Brave Bus, with design assistance provided by the innovative youth from YOUmedia's teen library space, will travel the country to serve as a place where kids can go to feel connected and learn about civic engagement opportunities. The bus, along with onsite mentors, will also accompany Lady Gaga’s next North American concert tour, providing additional resources and a safe space to convene.

“A thorough review of decades of academic research has inspired this strategy and over the next several months, we will be rolling out programs based on that data,” said Dr. David Washington, Sr. Advisor to Lady Gaga & BTWF for Philanthropy & Policy. “BTWF has brought together renowned researchers, practitioners and youth organizations and is committed to leveraging this brain trust in order to make a significant difference.”

Visit and join the youth-powered movement to build a braver, kinder world.

About Born This Way Foundation
Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2011 to foster a more accepting society. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community where individuality is celebrated by connecting youth with the skills, resources and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world. BTWF, a non-profit charitable organization, will address issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy. Please visit: to take the pledge and become part of the movement.

About The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur’s $85 million digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to education and other social institutions that must meet the needs of this and future generations. More information is at

About The California Endowment To Empower Youth
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. And as such, the Endowment has embarked on a ten-year campaign to improve the health of young people residing in vulnerable, at-risk communities through stronger and innovative prevention approaches. For more information, visit The California Endowment's homepage at

About Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at

About the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Since its founding in 1920, the Harvard Graduate School of Education has been training leaders to transform education in the United States and around the globe. Today, our faculty, students, and alumni are studying and solving the most critical challenges facing education: student assessment, the achievement gap, and teacher effectiveness, to name just a few. Through the Ed School’s 13 master’s programs, two doctoral programs, and extensive executive education programs, the HGSE community is pushing the frontiers of education, and the effects of our entrepreneurship are improving the world. More information can be found at

Media Contacts:
Amanda Silverman

Sarah Rothman


You might also like

Projects & Tools 01

Born This Way Foundation Partnership

The Born This Way Foundation has partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and The Berkman Center at Harvard to explore the best…