In addition to a successful career as a two-time Academy Award winning actor, writer and director, Ben Affleck is also a passionate advocate and philanthropist.
In 2009, Ben founded Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on investing in and working with the people of eastern Congo. ECI believes that local, community-based approaches are essential to creating a sustainable and successful society in eastern Congo, and works to increase the quality and quantity of investments in the region.
Since 2007, Ben has made ten trips to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a focus on the eastern provinces. He has focused on understanding the causes and consequences of the region’s decade’s long conflict, and learning about local, African-led solutions to the problems affecting the DRC. In May 2008, a film crew from ABC’s Nightline joined Ben on a trip to the DRC, meeting with a diverse set of individuals – including President Joseph Kabila; former armed group leader Laurent Nkunda; refugees and internally displaced people; former child soldiers; and leaders from local and international NGOs, among others – to gather a range of viewpoints on the issues in the region. Nightline produced a full episode about the trip narrated by Ben; it aired in June 2008.
In late 2008, he directed a short film and public service announcement, “Gimme Shelter,” about the humanitarian crisis in the DRC. The film was utilized as part of the UNHCR’s international campaign to aid those displaced by violence.
Ben has testified before Congress four times to advocate for U.S. and international engagement in Congo, most recently before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Projects in March 2015. In addition to extensive travel throughout the DRC, Ben’s learning and advocacy trips have taken him to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zanzibar. He is a longtime political activist and strong supporter of many charitable organizations, such as Feeding America, A-T Children’s Project, and the Jimmy Fund.