Leonardo DiCaprio to fund scholarships, climate education at his former elementary school

Jul 10, 2023, 8:59 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2023, 6:06 am

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio will fund scholarships and a climate education program at the UCLA-based elementary school where he was once himself a scholarship student, the actor and the college said Tuesday.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Scholarship fund and the Climate Justice Education Program are set to begin in the forthcoming school year at the UCLA Lab School.

“I was fortunate enough to attend the Lab School due to the generous contributions of UCLA donors, and my experience profoundly transformed my worldview,” DiCaprio said in a statement to The Associated Press. “I am proud to have the chance to pass on my experience to those who might otherwise miss out on this opportunity, and to help create a program that will help guide the next generation of climate warriors.”

The school aims to provide innovative educational techniques for its students — whose ages range from 4 to 12 — that outside teachers can come to study.

DiCaprio’s scholarship fund will give its students who need financial aid, which he got as a child when he went to the school in the 1980s, and will help the school to maintain the diversity it seeks. About 40% of its students need financial help.

“This scholarship fund will provide many children access to UCLA Lab School, just as Leo had,” said Dr. Eric Esrailian, a professor in UCLA’s Health Sciences department and a longtime friend of DiCaprio.

The new and separate climate education program will seek to teach students from pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade about the science behind climate change and about the policy and leadership needed to address it. The school has sought to use its location, next to a creek amid redwoods on the Los Angeles university campus, to become a hands-on site for environmental teaching.

DiCaprio, 48, has long been an outspoken advocate for addressing the climate crisis.

Esrailian said the program “will position children — both at the Lab School and beyond — for a more sustainable and healthy life for themselves and for our planet.”

The amount of the donations behind the programs was not made public, but officials said generations of students will be the recipients.

“Expanding access to high-quality education and helping young people recognize the need to protect our planet are critical goals for our institution,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement.

DiCaprio, the Oscar-winning star of “Titanic,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Revenant” and “The Departed,” will next appear in “ Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese.

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Leonardo DiCaprio to fund scholarships, climate education at his former elementary school