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King Charles’ longtime charity celebrates new name and U.S. expansion at New York gala

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NEW YORK — The King’s Trust celebrated its new name, an update of King Charles III’s long-running charity The Prince’s Trust, and the expansion of its work in the United States with a star-studded gala in New York City on Thursday night.

King Charles’ longtime charity celebrates new name and U.S. expansion at New York gala

“Ladies and gentlemen, the trust will continue to help young people around the world to build those key skills to support them into employment,” Charles said in a statement read to the audience, offering his regrets for being unable to attend the event, which was the first organized under the charity’s new name. “Together, we can build a better future for the next generation.”

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Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and gala co-chair Lionel Richie, who has worked with the charity for more than three decades, said Charles was doing well and had wanted to attend. Charles returned to public duties on Tuesday, following the announcement in February that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment.

“I told him, ‘Stand still. Just recover,’” Richie said. “We’ve got many more of these galas to do in the future.”

The Prince’s Trust was founded in 1976 when then-Prince Charles used his severance pay from the Royal Navy to launch the nonprofit dedicated to helping unemployed young people in the United Kingdom get trained for jobs. Since then, the charity has expanded its education and employment initiatives into 25 countries.

Richie said he and other famous supporters in attendance would work to represent the charity in Charles’ absence. They included singers Sam Smith and John Legend, who performed to close the evening, and supermodels Kate Moss, Emily Ratajkowski and Ashley Graham. Actor Dominic West, who played Charles in later seasons of “The Crown,” also was on hand, along with Michaela Jae Rodriguez, who currently plays the head of a charity on the AppleTV philanthropy sitcom “Loot.”

Rodriguez said philanthropy is important to her in real life as well as on screen, focusing on supporting climate groups such as The Rainforest Alliance, but also charities supporting young people including The King’s Trust.

“I think it’s important that we show up for the kids who want to strive, who want to have something that they can live for,” Rodriguez told The Associated Press. “We want to make make sure that they know they can do it.”

Victoria Gore, CEO of The King’s Trust USA, said that kind of support always has driven the charity, but it has been very methodical about its expansion, especially in the U.S., where it launched its first program in The Bronx last year, an education project called the Enterprise Challenge.

“We don’t want to double up on what somebody else is doing already,” Gore said. “It’s about collaboration and meeting a need.”

The King’s Trust USA this year expanded its work to three cities — New York, Chicago and Detroit — and plans to launch two new initiatives later this year, said Michael De Roeck, head of programs.

The trust soon expects to launch an American version of its Get Hired program, a job fair for young adults in the program, and Development Awards, where those in the programs can get a $500 grant to purchase laptops, work clothes and other items to aid in their job search, De Roeck said.

The organization’s work already has made an impact in those cities. Nakya Weeks, a 16-year-old high school student from Chicago, said the King’s Trust Enterprise Challenge made an impact on her even before her team won the national award last year for her team’s project to create a salon in an unused cosmetology lab at her school.

“It was awesome that people wanted to be a part of it,” said Nakya, who said the support for the project made her enjoy going to school more. She sees a future in education and hopes to attend Harvard University and become a traveling nurse.

Nakya’s mom, Terry Lee, is thrilled by the change she has seen in her.

“It’s a big deal to have someone to trust her, to believe in her, to help her follow her dreams and get her back on the right track,” Lee said. “It actually takes a village.”

American young people don’t necessarily relate to being the recipients of interest from the British royal family as do young people in the U.K., De Roeck said.

“I mean, a lot of people have seen ‘The Crown,’” he said. “But everyone’s been incredibly positive about the programs once they see they work.”

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the ’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The is solely responsible for this content. For all of ’s philanthropy coverage, visit /hub/philanthropy.

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