Plans halted for Madonna's Malawi school
March 25th, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Plans halted for Madonna's Malawi school

It looks like Madonna’s plan to build a $15 million school for approximately 400 girls in Malawi won’t come to fruition, according to the New York Times.

The superstar co-founded the Raising Malawi charity through which the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls was to be built, but the organization has said that plans for the project have been discontinued and the organization’s board of directors replaced by a “caretaker board” that includes Madonna and her manager.

Update, 3/28 1:27 p.m.: A statement from Madonna's rep provides clarification that "The Raising Malawi Academy for Girls is a Malawi based organization which is independent from Raising Malawi Inc.. ," and that "the former is the organization which has made the changes.  RM Inc. has been a donor to the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls but has discontinued funding because of concerns related to how funds were spent."

Apparently the singer realized there were potential problems within the charity last year, and solicited assistance from the Global Philanthropy Group.

Trevor Neilson, a founder of the organization, says he advised Madonna that building the pricey educational property was "an ineffective form of philanthropy," and suggested putting the donated funds toward already existing educational programs created by nongovernmental organizations.

Neilson tells the NYT that $3.8 million has already been spent on the now halted project, “with much of the money going to architects, design and salaries and, in one case, two cars for employees who had not even been hired yet," the NYT reports.

“Despite $3.8 million having been spent by the previous management team, the project has not broken ground, there was no title to the land and there was, over all, a startling lack of accountability on the part of the management team in Malawi and the management team in the United States," Neilson says.

He notes that they’ve “yet to determine exactly what happened to all of that $3.8 million. We have not accounted for all the funds that were used.”

In a report, Neilson’s organization was critical of two former officials of Madonna’s charity, saying that the executive director mismanaged “project plans, people and finances” while the woman chosen to head the Academy had “weak management skills” that majorly contributed "to the current financial and programmatic chaos.”

Both of the former officials say that they are prohibited from commenting on or responding to the allegations.

Madonna, however, seems to be moving forward. Raising Malawi has raised $18 million thus far, according to the NYT, and the organization has no intentions of disbanding.

“There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,” Madonna said in a statement to the Times. “Sixty-seven percent of girls don’t go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable. Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can.”

Madonna declined to provide further comment.

Filed under: Celebrities • Madonna

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Sneaky Pete

    These guys Madonna picked to run her school must be ex-Congressmen! No-one can waste money like a politician!

    March 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. imeanwhat

    Can you believe that $3.8mill of the funding for the school magically vanished? See what happened @imeanwhat

    March 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard Head

    Madonna, Are they going to teach the kids how to spell “Swindled” at that new schools, cause that’s what happened to you. hahaha

    March 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nigerian Banker


    March 28, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mortimer Collins

    I guess Ms Madonna isnt quite as intelligent as she thought she was...LMAO!! Hopefully they will steal more of her ill gotten gains.

    March 28, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. Heman

    3.8 million unaccounted for an gone. Those africans are better swindlers than our U.S. politicians. Just give more money Madge.

    March 28, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Head Diva In Charge

    @steven segal you are an idiot for making the fat comment. I am a big girl who is gay i am proud of it. In this country its great that one can be heavy and gay and be able to walk down the streets with they head high.

    March 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Head Diva In Charge

    Oh s t u f all of you are idiots that posted. I'm into women and she is my type.

    March 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. heidi-ho

    Overrated and her music sucks. She needs to do something about her arms. They look terrible, like two pieces of thick twine/rope wound together. Gross..As far as her plans for the school go, shes just copying what every other celebrity is doing. Nothing but the latest fad.

    March 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Voguevoguevogue

    She's like a virgin, but not really, if you know what I mean.

    March 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. madhater

    Madonna is such a whure, I love it.

    March 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jesse Jackson

    I am Somebody! I gots to keep de n-word alive so's I can gets mo' donations! Me & Al Sharpton gots to have a job!

    March 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Go USA

    With the shape of the American educational system. these days, why would you want to help another country instead? Is she getting some sort of kickback for it? Must be. All its become really, is the next'trendy' thing for celebrities to do. She should be ashamed of herself. Oh, and by the way, if you think the word n!gger is passe, you better think again! Its alive and well. Just face it, thats never going to change.

    March 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ticked off

    Just what we need a white version of oprah americans must get paid more for helping other countries than they do their own and@ku klux klown who used the n-word tongue kkkiss on my AK-47 until yo head explpodes u weenie

    March 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ticked off

    Just what we need a white version of oprah americans must get paid more for helping other countries than they do their own and@ku klux klown who used the n-word suck on my AK-47 until yo head explpodes u weenie

    March 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Gabriel Berk Esquire

    We hope she finds her Sweet Spot.

    March 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  17. @smyley25

    Just goes to show what happens when feel-good liberal thinking gets put ahead of common sense. There are so many othere, wiser ways the money could have been used instead of lining corrupt pockets!

    March 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Willow

    It is good someone is still doing nice things ! GOD and kaaaarmaa will be smiling ! 🙂 K PLUS TO HER ! 🙂

    March 26, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  19. JBK

    Madonna, being too busy to do it herself obviously needed trustworthy, recommended and well vetted people to work on her project at all levels...Her good heart is in the right place. I hope she takes this teaching moment, regroups and as is usual for her her, gets it done.... Go Madge!!

    March 26, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  20. @steven segal

    Especially if they're fat, right? I see your still shallow!

    March 26, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  21. jake

    I feel her here. No one goes through all this just to have it dismantled and destroyed by morons that probably mismanaged money due to greed. All at the expense of kids. Pathetic. I think she made a very smart move. Her heart is in the right place and unlike many, she has a dream for others. How can anyone bash that? I'd like to be a fly on the wall when she discovered all this oh man: someone got it. This woman is known to be a tough cookie for a reason and I really hope she gave it to the idiots that messed this all up.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Rufus Leroy Washington


    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Rufus Leroy Washington

    Financial trickery? Embezzlement? Misappropriated funds? In Africa? Really? I NEED HELP MOVING FUNDS FROM NIGERIA. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR BANK ACCOUNT ROUTING UMBER!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Chris

    She looks really pretty in that picture. But to discuss the subject at hand, I think maybe Madonna and her manager just need a new game plan. Madonna has done a lot for Malawi. Her heart is in the right place, and I hope that things will turn out right soon.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hot Monkey Love

      I would love to feed Madonna a big mouthfull of my doo doo. Just keep lobbin turd after turd into her nasty profane vulgar mouth.

      March 28, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  25. Nancy Reyes

    if you use local labor, make your own bricks and use local equipment, you can build a hundred schools for that amount. What was she doing, using imported designer bricks and putting airconditioners in the WC's?

    March 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paco

      Ive never liked Madonna, the sorry piece of trash, from day one. I hope whatever crooks she is messing with drain her dry of every nickel.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  26. Imogen

    Madonna should realize that problems in Africa is not as simple as adopting a babies. It is a virus that no cures ....I wish her good luck and hope to hear her new album though.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • a aviv

      Madonna should focus on the problems in education right here in the United States of America!

      March 26, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Is Chris Brown still alive?

      Just a nasty smelly tart this woman is.

      March 28, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  27. Burt Frankfurter

    Wait, you mean you can't just throw money at a problem, smile at a ribbon cutting ceremony, and expect the problem to be solved? Why does this remind me of every government program in existence?

    March 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hollywood Reporter

      Madonna is about as relevant as this guy is now.

      March 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |

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