Ray of Light Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation funded by pop music star Madonna Louise Ciccone, known by the stage name Madonna. The foundation’s grantees are a mix of traditional charitable non-profits and left-of-center advocacy groups, especially pro-Palestinian groups. It also provides substantial funding for projects influenced by Madonna’s interest in Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical sect.
The foundation shares its name with Madonna’s seventh studio album, released in March 1998, just before the foundation was established. 
Activities and Grants
Ray of Light Foundation has a substantial international program, funding projects such as disaster relief in Haiti, programs for street children in the Philippines, and girls’ education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  It has also supported charter schools and a boxing gym for at-risk youth in Madonna’s native Detroit. 
The foundation supports projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and pro-Palestinian advocacy groups. It pays the salaries of teachers in UN-funded schools in the Gaza Strip, stepping in after the Trump administration cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which the administration called an “irredeemably flawed operation” and an impediment to peace efforts. 
It also funds a women’s farm microloan program through the Palestine Fair Trade Association. 
In May 2019, during the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv, Israel, Madonna was criticized on the one hand for funding these grantees by pro-Israeli commentators, and on the other by the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for attending the contest.  In the United States, the foundation has supported the radical-left anti-war group Code Pink, which advocates for Palestinian interests and BDS, though it later criticized Madonna for appearing at Eurovision.  The foundation also supports Americans for Peace Now, which advocates for diplomatic recognition of the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state. 
In response to the 2016 Islamist terror attack by Omar Mateen on the Pulse Nightclub, Madonna announced a partnership with the National LGBTQ Task Force to expand that group’s “violence prevention work, especially as it affects transgender women of color.” 
The foundation gave nearly $4.4 million between 2001 and 2006 to the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles; Kabbalah is a form of Jewish mysticism that Madonna became involved in in the 2000s. In 2007, the Foundation followed up those gifts with more than $2.6 million, the vast bulk of its giving for that year. 
With Michael Berg, co-founder of the Kabbalah Center, Madonna founded Raising Malawi, a charity that funds orphanages, schools, and clinics in the East African country. 
Ray of Light Foundation is a frequent contributor to Raising Malawi, including a $1.3 million grant in 2016.  In 2011, the board of Raising Malawi was terminated and the organization abandoned plans to build a girls’ school when auditors discovered “outlandish expenditures on salaries, cars, office space and a golf course membership, free housing and a car and driver for the school’s director.”  Of the $3.8 million spent on the project, only $850,000 was paid out in Malawi—the rest being spent in Los Angeles by Berg and the Kabbalah Center—and no construction ever occurred. 
The foundation’s only director is Madonna’s sister, Melanie Ciccone.