J.J. Watt raised more than $30 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in two weeks.
J.J. Watt raised more than $30 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in two weeks.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

J.J. Watt to Give $37 Million in Harvey Donations to Four Nonprofits

For those wondering where exactly the $37 million Texans star J.J. Watt raised in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey would end up, now you have your answer. Watt announced Thursday that a majority of the funds will be split between four nonprofits helping recovery efforts in the Houston area.

Americares, Feeding America, SBP and Save the Children will split $30.15 million over the next 18 to 24 months, with the remaining $7 million to be set aside for distribution in 2018 as workers continue to assess relief efforts.

“I went to work with nonprofit organizations who have boots on the ground here in Houston and the surrounding affected areas to put the best plan in place and I am very excited to share that with you today,” Watt wrote in a statement.

After Watt raised more than $30 million in the two weeks after Harvey — surpassing his original goal of $200,000 – there were some questions as to how his nonprofit, the J.J. Watt Foundation, could handle a sudden, massive infusion of cash. IRS filings showed the organization typically handled about $1.4 million used for after-school programs in Texas and in Watt’s home state of Wisconsin.

But after speaking with representatives and, unfortunately, having some additional downtime, Watt decided the four nonprofits, which between them offer health, food, housing and education assistance, were the best patrons for the money raised.

“While we are going to do some truly incredible things with this $37 million to make it stretch as far as possible, it is only one small step in the massive recovery effort that lies ahead,” Watt wrote. “I encourage you to please continue to find organizations to donate to, whether they be some of the ones listed below or others. Houston will bounce back from this and we will rise up stronger than ever.”

Together, the four nonprofits offer a wide range of services. Americares works with community clinics in and around Houston to provide medicine, health supplies and mental health services. Feeding America works with food banks in Texas like the Houston Food Bank to provide financial support in meal distribution. SBP, which originated in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, works with communities hit by disasters to rebuild homes, and Save the Children supports child care, early education and after-school programs.

Watt's generosity also makes us forgive the time he rapped Fort Minor's "Remember the Name" on Hard Knocks.

Here’s Watt’s full statement:

On August 27, I set out with a goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. In the three weeks that followed - thanks to the unprecedented support and generosity of over 200,000 donors from across the country and around the world - we raised over $37 million. With such incredible support like this comes tremendous responsibility. I have spent the greater part of the last month and a half doing my due diligence and meeting with and speaking to as many resources as possible. 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.

Throughout this decision-making process, what mattered to me most was ensuring that the entirety of the funds would be utilized here in Houston and the surrounding areas for those who were affected most by Hurricane Harvey. With that in mind, I went to work with nonprofit organizations who have boots on the ground here in Houston and the surrounding affected areas to put the best plan in place and I am very excited to share that with you today.

$30.15 million of the funds will be distributed amongst four strategic partners – Americares, Feeding America, SBP and Save the Children – to be deployed over the course of the next 18-24 months. These funds will be used to rebuild homes, restore child-care centers, provide food and address health needs of those affected most by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the surrounding areas. The remaining $7 million will be set aside for distribution in 2018 as we continue to assess and analyze the evolving relief efforts.

I have said it many times over the course of the past few months, but it bears repeating again: the most difficult times seem to bring out the best in humanity. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support and donations from across the country and around the world. You have truly shown what is possible when everyone bands together for one common cause. While we are going to do some truly incredible things with this $37 million to make it stretch as far as possible, it is only one small step in the massive recovery effort that lies ahead. I encourage you to please continue to find organizations to donate to, whether they be some of the ones listed below or others. Houston will bounce back from this and we will rise up stronger than ever.

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