If Jay-Z’s “December 4th” song is to be believed, he was born weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces and was the last of four children—the only one that didn’t give his mother, Gloria Carter, any pain when she gave birth to him. That’s how she knew he was special. The rapper’s inextricable bond with his mother is equally strong today as co-founders of the Shawn Carter Foundation, a charity geared toward empowering youth and communities in need.
Now, with her son presumably busy making music and prepping for the imminent arrival of twins, Carter has taken the helm of the organization and teamed up with eBay for Charity on an auction and sweepstakes to raise funds for the foundation’s educational programs and scholarship funds for underserved students, featuring HOVA-sanctioned items like Made in America VIP passes and dinner for two at the Jay-Z-owned 40/40 Club.
Here, Carter gets candid about the new initiative and the best part about being a grandma.
First off, why did you and Jay-Z decide to start the Shawn Carter Foundation?
Fifteen years ago, I retired from my job and got bored. Then I had a conversation with my son and said, “Listen, we need to do something.” So he asked me what I wanted to do. There are so many needy children in the world that need help, and they’re not being addressed. We wanted to give back to the community.
Tell us about your new partnership with eBay for Charity.
Our foundation has been low-key for a long time, and it’s time for people to know what we do and how we do it. We have people who support us—who are willing to open up their hearts and give us donations—but any foundation that aims to serve can always use some extra help.
Who is the foundation geared toward?
Single moms like me, first-generation children—children who don’t have parents and never went to college. It’s also geared toward people that desire an education but don’t have the money. Then you also have people that are just better with their hands—we want to put them in a position where they can get a job and be able to take care of their family that way.
You’ve shied away from the press for most of your life. Why is now the time to step into the spotlight?
I’m still shy, but at a certain point it’s not about me; it’s about the kids. I always tell the kids that I’m taking them out of a box and I’m exposing you to greater things in your life. I have to take myself out of a box and expose myself so that I can make their lives better.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a grandma?
I truly love my children, and I have great children who love their mother unconditionally. My grandkids love me the same way. But the thing about grandchildren is that you can always send them home. It’s a blessing. [Laughs]
What’s your go-to family activity?
We go to [Jay-Z’s] shows together. That’s a thing we do.
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Do you know all the lyrics to his songs?
Only the ones I like.
If you had to choose, what would be your favorite?
“Song Cry” is one of my favorites. I like that he really expressed how he felt about being in a relationship and he was honest about situations that happen to people every day.
Visit eBay.com/SCF to shop or donate to the Shawn Carter Foundation.