By Anna Sekula Posted May 16, 2012, 4:21 PM EDT
NEW YORK On Monday night, the Robin Hood Foundation returned to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for its annual gala, long considered one of the biggest and most influential benefits in New York. This year, in addition to a live performance by Rihanna and Neil Young, the 4,000-person event saw a motif inspired by one of the city's iconic visuals: the subway. Personalized cards for IML's devices, which enabled guests to donate funds anonymously during the night, were modeled after MetroCards, subway-style maps decorated the walls and bar centerpieces, grimy-looking tiled walls enclosed the cocktail space, and rattling sound effects set the scene in the entrance tunnel.
The emphasis of the night for the poverty-fighting nonprofit was not just to raise funds, but also to launch a partnership with the X Prize Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization that creates large-scale competitions around solving social issues. “We think it's a really big deal because it allows us a model by which we can hopefully break the cycle of poverty for generations to come,” said Mark Bezos, Robin Hood's senior vice president of development. communications, and events. “What we're going to do is really open up the work that Robin Hood does and crowdsource solutions to some of the problems that are really keeping us from helping even more people.”
The event, co-hosted by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers, again drew some of the biggest names in finance as well as sports, entertainment, and politics. NBCUniversal C.E.O. Steve Burke, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz served as co-chairs; Jimmy Fallon, his show's house band The Roots, and Williams had a “slow jam” on stage (the video is here); and attendees included Goldman Sachs C.E.O. and chairman Lloyd Blankfein, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Chelsea Clinton, and Harvey Weinstein.