Entertainment

Matthew McConaughey is Helping Teens in Poverty Excel in High School

Matthew McConaughey, left, and Camila Alves arrive at the world premiere of "Sing" at the Microsoft Theater on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Is there a better celebrity than Matthew McConaughey? It seems like the Oscar-winning actor is always doing something goodhearted, like hosting virtual bingo games for senior citizens, delivering masks in his home state of Texas or helping prepare meals for first responders. But McConaughey has been at this philanthropy thing for a while now. For the past decade, the Texan and his wife Camila have been helping at-risk teens excel in high school.

In 2008, McConaughey's Just Keep Livin' Foundation was introduced in two Los Angeles high schools. Since then, the program has grown to serve nearly 3,000 students in 37 high schools. The foundation allows students to take part in a four-hour a week curriculum, which includes aerobic exercise and yoga, nutrition tips and weekend service projects, Town & Country reports. The curriculum also includes a regular "gratitude circle," which McConaughey grew up taking part in during family dinners.

Many of the students who take part in the program are from families that fall below the poverty line.

One L.A. student referred to the program as a valuable violence-free destination where she and her friends could hang out after school.

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The foundation also raised money to provide computers and meals to students who were out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What makes the program unique is how all students are welcomed. You are not your GPA, you are not your trauma, you are not your insecurities or your home life," program alumna Maria Gutierrez Salmeron told Town & Country. "Just Keep Livin' gives you the chance to just be you."

The Interstellar and Dazed and Confused actor said he always knew he wanted to help kids in need.

"I always knew I wanted it to be kids, because I wanted the entire foundation to provide prevention before we needed a cure. High school's the last place you can catch somebody and get them on the right track, before they no longer have to listen to a teacher or parent," McConaughey said. "If they're screwing up in high school and do some of the same stuff after they graduate, they may go to jail--or worse."

"Being able to give back in ways is a selfish endeavor," McConaughey continued. "It feels good to me to see a smile or hear a young person say thank you. That's called a selfless act? I call it a selfish act."

Matthew and Camila have been married since 2012. The couple has three children -- sons Levi and Livingston and daughter Vida.

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Matthew McConaughey is Helping Teens in Poverty Excel in High School