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Eva Longoria Is Recognized by Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sánchez for Her Courage and Civility

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Eva Longoria Wins Bezos Courage and Civility Awardcourtesy of the Bezos Courage and Civility Awards

The Bezos Courage and Civility Award was started in 2021 to support the philanthropists who are addressing the most pressing issues facing the world today. This year’s recipients are Eva Longoria and Admiral Bill McRaven, who will each receive $50 million to donate to organizations they deem worthy of support.

“Whether it’s economic status, poverty, food insecurity, the environment, there are so many issues we’re facing in the world,” Longoria told Elle. “I love the concept of this award, which is supporting people who are doing great things.” It’s not about reinventing the wheel, Longoria adds, but rather “expanding and scaling our services and programs.”

With her portion of the award money, Longoria says she plans to “continue doing what I’ve been doing” with the Eva Longoria Foundation, which she started in 2012 with the mission to “help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.” The foundation achieves that through a variety of programs, which encourage female entrepreneurship, cultural impact, media awareness, and representation in the arts. “I like to focus on women, because women truly are the changemakers in families,” Longoria says. “When you help a woman, she helps her family. And then when you help families, you improve communities. And when you improve communities, you can improve nations.”

She will also continue funding Eva’s Heroes, a charitable organization within the Eva Longoria Foundation that supports the special needs community. “It was created [in honor] of my sister, who has a mental disability,” Longoria explains. “It started as an after-school program for adults with special needs, where we could continue to keep their lives active—a space where they could interact and grow and be loved and included, instead of hidden away out of the community. Since then, it has expanded...we’ve now helped over 5,000 families in Texas, where we’re based, and my sister is still a part of it. And I called it Eva’s Heroes, because my sister is my hero. The root of all my philanthropy comes from my sister and her true sense of seeing the world with a positive, beautiful lens. She sees the good in everything.”

Co-winner Admiral McRaven will spread his allotted award money among three philanthropic initiatives. “The first is educating the children of our fallen heroes, particularly in the special operations community,” he told Elle. “My wife is on the board of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and they have been educating the Gold Star children since 1980.” The second area is mental health. “My wife and I are national spokespeople for the BrainHealth Project, which has a wider mandate to improve brain health and brain performance for a wide swath of people, but it also has a concentration on veterans,” he explains. And the third area McRaven will address is helping future military leaders. “While the service academies pay for everything, the ROTC program, from which we get a lot of our military leaders, do not cover all the costs,” he says. “This causes a lot of young men and women not to join the military.”

For both Longoria and McRaven, who will accept the Courage and Civility Award in person at an event in Washington, D.C. tonight, the opportunity to make this kind of lasting financial impact is an honor. “To get a gift like this to expand your vision is truly remarkable,” Longoria says. And McRaven adds: “I am both humbled and excited about all the lives that will be changed through this remarkable gift.”

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