Miley Cyrus Launches a Foundation to Combat LGBT Youth Homelessness

The singer announces her nonprofit, the Happy Hippie Foundation, with a video collaboration with Joan Jett.
Joan Jett and Miley Cyrus at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
May 5, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

When Miley Cyrus helped induct Joan Jett into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, she honored the former Blackhearts front woman by insisting that Jett did more than just change music history—she made the world evolve. "Instead of changing for all those people, if you don't like how the world is, change it yourself," Cyrus said.

Now, the 22-year-old pop star is attempting to do just that by founding a nonprofit organization to prevent homelessness among LGBT youths. The Happy Hippie Foundation, as it's dubbed, was announced Tuesday on Cyrus' Facebook page. The foundation's mission is to "rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other populations," according to its website.

The site features posts and images of Cyrus volunteering at Los Angeles youth homeless shelter My Friend's Place. It's the center where Cyrus first met Jesse Helt, the shaggy-haired homeless man who took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards last fall to accept an award on Cyrus' behalf and also raise awareness for her cause.

"I have survived in shelters all over this city," said Helt, who was 22 at the time and was sentenced to jail shortly after the VMA performance for violating his probation. "The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home," said Helt, referring to Los Angeles County's homeless population. The speech, which urged viewers to visit Cyrus' online fund-raising campaign, helped raise more than $200,000 for homeless youths in the span of 24 hours, according to My Friend's Place.

The foundation aims to continue that mission of fund-raising for homeless youths, 40 percent of whom identify as LGBT, according to a 2012 report from UCLA's Williams Institute. Transgender youths face larger obstacles to overcoming homelessness: Nearly one in three seeking room at shelters was turned away, and one in five has experienced homelessness at some point in his or her life, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Fittingly, the announcement of the Happy Hippie Foundation was made with the release of a music video for Cyrus and Jett's collaboration on the song "Different," recorded as part of Cyrus' "Backyard Sessions" series. Collaborations with pop singer Ariana Grande, Against Me's Laura Jane Grace, and folk vocalist Melanie Safka are also set to debut on Cyrus' Facebook page, with an option to donate to the Happy Hippie Foundation, according to Rolling Stone.

The foundation's website, adorned with smiley faces and a bright gradient of colors, in true Cyrus fashion, also includes a manifesto: "People who say we can't change the world are wrong. We will make some noise and cause a scene!"