Philanthropy: Jon Bon Jovi’s Heart & Soul

 Jon Bon Jovi
Photo by John W. Ferguson/Getty Images
– Jon Bon Jovi
celebrates the Oct. 19, 2011, grand opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen, his foundation

The joy Bon Jovi has brought to the world is undeniable, what with the band’s delightful sing-along hit songs and the memories created at venues worldwide. Beyond the music, frontman Jon Bon Jovi has made a lasting impact on countless folks in need thanks to the philanthropic efforts of his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. 

The foundation works to break the cycles of hunger, poverty and homelessness by developing partnerships, creating programs and providing grant funding to support community benefit organizations, with a mission of “rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one soul at a time.” 

The charity was founded in 2006 as part of the localized charity work of the Philadelphia Soul professional arena football team, then co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi, and has since expanded on a national level. In the past 13 years the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has helped provide more than 600 units of affordable and supportive housing in 10 states, including one of its latest projects – donating more than a half million dollars in partnership with Help USA to provide supportive housing for veterans at Walter Reed Apartments in Washington, D.C. 

Bon Jovi has given back to his home state in numerous ways including opening the JBJ Soul Kitchen in 2011 in Red Bank, N.J., offering farm-to-table dishes in a restaurant atmosphere where guests can volunteer in exchange for a meal or make a suggested donation of $20. A second location opened in Toms River, N.J., and the foundation collected funds this year to build a new vestibule to keep guests warm during the winter. Between the two locations, more than 100,000 meals have been served, with 54% paid with donations and 46% of meals earned through volunteerism. 

In November, the JBJ Soul Foundation announced it was partnering with Gourmet Dining at Rutgers University Newark to open a Soul Kitchen location on campus in January to help students who are struggling with food insecurity. 

When speaking at Pollstar Live! in 2018 on the panel “One Song At A Time: How To Change The World,” Bon Jovi shared how he was inspired to give back. He recalled staying at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia and looking out the window to see a homeless man sleeping on the street. “I thought, ‘That’s not what our forefathers envisioned,’” the musician said, adding that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, white or black, hunger and homelessness can affect anyone. 

“Doing good feels good,” Bon Jovi said, crediting his wife, Dorothea Hurley, with coming up with the idea for the Soul Kitchen restaurants. “Finding purpose gives you drive and that’s what makes you able to do it day in and day out.”

His charity work and music recently came together with the Nov. 1 release of the song “Unbroken,” which is included in the documentary “To Be Of Service” about war veterans and the service dogs helping them cope with PTSD. All proceeds from the tune will go to the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation. 

“I’m incredibly aware of Jon’s philanthropic nature. He’s always been that person. You go back to the concert for New York after 9/11 and he was truly one of the first artists who stood up and said, ‘I’m in.’ That’s just who he is,” says Rob Light, Head of Music at Creative Artists Agency, which represents Bon Jovi.

“Jon does big stuff, he shows up to all the biggest events. But at heart, he is a hometown guy and is focused on making his own community a better place. And if your own community is a better place, then your state becomes a better place and so on. His commitment to really making a difference is spectacular.”