Rihanna has been keeping a relatively low profile (well, for Rihanna) since the coronavirus officially became a global pandemic last month. Save for a British Vogue cover and the release of her Fenty faux leather capsule collection (both of which were months in the making), Rihanna has mostly kept mum on social media: no Instagram Live makeup tutorials or TikTok challenges from the singer-turned-fashion and beauty mogul.
But Robyn Fenty’s money certainly has been talking. Through her Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna has already given millions of dollars to coronavirus response efforts, including funding for ventilators in her native Barbados, and donating personal protective equipment to New York State. The virus also appeared to hit close to home: her father Ronald Fenty told The Sun newspaper he got so sick from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, he “feared the worst.”
Now, Rihanna has teamed up with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to combat domestic abuse, which has risen as shelter-in-place orders have forced people around the world to be in close contact with their abusers.
Dorsey and Rihanna announced Thursday that they will be sending a $4.2 million grant to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles to help victims of domestic abuse in the city. Their joint funding comes after reports that domestic-violence shelters in the city need to turn away at least 90 people per week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dorsey and Rihanna contributed equally to the fund.
Before governments began massive social control measures, like lockdowns and stay-at-home, experts warned that such protocols would also spark an increase in domestic abuse. Earlier this month, data from around the world confirmed those fears, showing a surge in domestic violence reports in many countries.
Social distancing and staying at home is essential to fighting the coronavirus, but these measures also limit the ability of victims, many of them women and children, to get away from their abusers. Domestic violence shelters and people who work with victims of abuse are also limited: social distancing requires fewer beds, and social workers and advocacy groups are limited in the help they can provide. Support groups, supervised visitation, and walk-in appointments, for example, are no longer an option.
As TMZ reports, the money coming from Rihanna and Dorsey will allow the L.A. shelters to cover housing, meals, and counseling for an extra 90 people for 10 weeks.
Rihanna, along with Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation, also recently announced $2 million in grants to support vulnerable groups during the pandemic. This includes undocumented workers, many of whom are not eligible for government aid but are continuing to work essential jobs, the children of health workers and first responders, the incarcerated, and the homeless.