Hurricane Harvey victims, nonprofits and Texans fans alike have been on the edge of their seats to hear what J.J. Watt planned to do with the $37 million he raised for storm relief. As of Thursday, he has a plan.
In a Twitter video posted Thursday afternoon, Watt explained that he will direct the money to focus on four areas: rebuilding homes, restoring child-care centers, distributing food and providing medical and mental health services.
He said he will partner with four charities: SBP: Disaster Resilience & Recovery, which will help with rebuilding homes; Save The Children, which will help to reestablish child care centers; Feeding America, which will handle food distribution; and Americares, which will help provide medical services.
“While I understand the total recovery from Hurricane Harvey could require upwards of $200 billion, and this $37 million will not be able to help every single person as I so badly wish it could, I have made it my mission to ensure this money makes as large of an impact as possible,” Watt said in a press release that was sent out at the same time as the Twitter video.
Watt’s foundation has been tight-lipped about the plan for the funds until today, releasing few details and declining media requests until preparations were finalized. More information about the timeline of distributing the funds or opportunities for individuals to apply to receive help were not provided by Watt or his foundation.
According to the press release, the four charities will receive $30.15 million, and the last $7 million will be set aside and be distributed in 2018 for longer-term efforts yet to be announced.
Watt’s fundraising efforts ended in mid-September and in the press release he encouraged people to “continue to find organizations to donate to.”
Local news reports emerged earlier this month of storm victims being able to apply to receive cash from JJ Watt’s foundation. But Amy Palcic, a spokesperson for the Texans who said she’s worked closely with Watt on this effort, said via email that these were incorrect: “there isn’t a mechanism for people to apply for funds and no money has been distributed to date.”
Now that the recipient charities have been announced, it is up to those charities to determine if there will be a way for people to apply for the money being distributed, she added.
The Twitter video is here. Watt had had a much more modest goal for his fundraising, but his star power helped bring a whole lot more to the effort than he had envisioned. That has put a lot of responsibility on him, and he is taking it seriously. I wish him continued success in his efforts.