Travis Scott will invest millions of dollars in Project HEAL, a new, multi-layered initiative focusing on education, mental health, and event safety. Tuesday’s announcement comes just over four months after ten people died following a deadly crowd surge at the rapper’s Astroworld festival in Houston, TX on November 5th.
Project HEAL has four main components: a scholarship fund for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an expansion of the Cactus Jack Youth Design Center, funding of mental health services, and the creation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force of Event Safety and a technological product solution for event safety. Scott was previously engaged in several of these initiatives, including the Waymon Webster HBCU College Fund and Cactus Jack Design Center, but Project HEAL sees a significant increase in both the scope of involvement and level of investment in the causes for the high-profile performer.
“While it’s easy for corporations and institutions to stay in the shadows, I feel as a leader in my community, I need to step up in times of need,” Scott wrote in an Instagram post announcing the project. “My team and I created Project HEAL to take much needed action towards supporting real solutions that make all events the safest spaces they can possibly be. I will always honor the victims of the Astroworld tragedy who remain in my heart forever.”
This will mark the second year that Scott has sponsored the Waymon Webster scholarship. Named after his grandfather, who was a professor at Prairie View A&M University, the fund will award $10,000 to 100 seniors at HBCUs in need of financial support for their final spring semester. According to the Project HEAL website, this represents a tenfold increase from last year’s scholarship fund.
Scott initially opened the Catcus Jack Youth Design Center, operated by his 501(c)(3) non-profit Cactus Jack Foundation, on November 4th, 2021, the day before the Astroworld tragedy. Located in his native Houston, the 60,000 square-foot, multi-purpose center connects high-school students with resources and education in design, fashion, music, art, and technology. With this new investment, the center’s programs will open to low-resource communities across the country via an online partnership with an HBCU.
“Giving back and creating opportunities for the youth is something I’ve always done and will continue to do as long as I have the chance,” Scott continued on Instagram. “This program will be a catalyst to real change and I can’t wait to introduce the rest of the technology and ideas we’ve been working on. See you all so soon[.]”
Project HEAL also promises to address “the country’s skyrocketing mental health crisis” with a dedicated call center and online channel connecting young people with licensed professionals, including counselors and social workers. The project’s resources will also be made available to area schools to identify children in need of assistance and connect them with the proper support. Heading the initiative is Dr. Janice Beal, who recently developed an interconnected system of mental health services for the Houston Independent School District during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, Scott will organize the first-ever U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force of Event Safety. This consortium will include representatives from government, public safety, emergency response, health care, event management, music, and technology. Together, they will compile a comprehensive plan to address event safety at future mass gatherings, publicly presenting these recommendations and delivering them to “every Mayor of every town and city which hosts large-scale events.” Scott will also invest heavily in developing new technologies to address these same safety issues imposed by large-scale events.
In the months following the deadly Astroworld crowd surge, hundreds of lawsuits were filed against Scott and the festival’s promoter, Live Nation, among others. Earlier this month, a class-action suit representing nearly 400 victims entered a Houston courtroom where Judge Kristen Hawkins issued a gag order so the case can be “tried in the courtroom and not on social media.”
Meanwhile, a congressional House Oversight and Reform Committee in late December delivered a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino seeking answers to how the Astroworld tragedy unfolded, how event staff reacted in real-time, and what plans were in place to prevent it. The committee had originally given the world’s leading concert promoter until January 7th to respond, with a hearing to take place on the 12th. According to a Variety report from January 7th, the committee granted Live Nation an extension as it provides information.
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