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From Actor to Advocate: Matthew McConaughey Launches Program to Rid Schools of Guns

By Belal Awad · August 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Matthew McConaughey has emerged as champion for gun control.
  • The Robb Elementary School mass shooting that took place in his hometown of Uvalde, TX inspired him and his wife to launch the Greenlights Grant Initiative.
  • The initiative connects schools with federal grants designated for fund security systems and mental health counseling.
  • McConaughey, who once weighed a run for Texas governor, may consider politics in the future.
Actor Matthew McConaughey is intent on keeping schools safe.  

Acclaimed actor Matthew McConaughey, known for his roles in such films as “Interstellar” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” has recently shifted his attention from the silver screen to advocating for victims of school shootings and championing gun control. The impetus for McConaughey was the tragic 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, that caused the brutal deaths of 19 students and two teachers.

In the aftermath of this slayings, McConaughey felt a strong call to action, he told ABC News. He initially took to social media, where he said of mass shootings: “This is an epidemic we can control. We all know we can do better. We must do better.”

His words were hardly empty promises. They marked the start of a journey into gun-control advocacy, culminating in the creation of a new initiative aimed at connecting schools with federal grants. The effort is designed to enhance school security measures, while providing mental health counseling under a program he and his wife Camila call the Greenlights Grant Initiative.

McConaughey’s emotional connection to the Uvalde tragedy is powerful. “It happened in my hometown,” he said, noting that the family members of the deceased victims had one request: To “make their lives matter.” Their plea resonated with McConaughey and his wife.

When the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was enacted last year, McConaughey took notice. The act marked the first major gun safety legislation in more than three decades. It provides grants for school security systems schools along with mental health counseling services. McConaughey soon discovered, however, that many schools were either unaware of the new grants or found the application process too daunting. To help close the gap between the new resources and the schools that need them, McConaughey created the Greenlights Grant Initiative.

The program’s prime goal is to raise awareness of the newly available funds, help schools navigate the application process, and ultimately uncork the billions of dollars in federal grants that must be utilized by 2026.

McConaughey said, “The school districts that need the services - the securing of the schools and the mental health counseling that this bill gives - are not getting it. They don’t have access to it. And we’re trying to connect them to that.”

McConaughey’s shrewd advocacy has fueled speculation about his own political ambitions. McConaughey, who calls himself “aggressively centrist,” once weighed a run for Texas governor. He still wonders whether “politics [is] the category where I could be the most useful?” Until he makes that decision, his Greenlights Grant Initiative is a most welcome contribution to the public sphere.