Since the rapper/producer’s upbringing in the Boyle Heights projects, music has been his outlet for social issues, Will.i.am said at the i.am.angel Foundation’s TRANS4M Gala Tuesday night. His philanthropy for the last 10 years has aimed to do just that: give students in underprivileged communities– Boyle Heights or otherwise– an outlet and opportunity through not just art, but science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).

“There’s more business around crime and incarceration than there are around preparation and providing a path towards excellence,” will.i.am said. “I wanted to take the success that I had and the network that I’ve built to surround ‘my kids’ with tomorrow’s skillsets. Not only so they can fill jobs, but create jobs and fight business with business because crime is a business.”

A star-studded collective of musicians, actors, entertainment executives and tech giants attended the TRANS4M gala at Milk Studios last night. Guests included Apple heiress and philanthropist, Laurene Jobs and Hollywood icons and activists, Lyn & Norman Lear.

“I stood up in the same shoes that probably I’m wearing now, and I loved it,” Norman Lear recalled about being the TRANS4M Gala honoree two years ago. “I adore will.i.am as does my wife, and we love doing whatever he is a part of.”

The foundation has already supported 6,000 K-12 schoolchildren in the greater Los Angeles area’s underserved communities to “stay in school, introduce and engage them in STEAM activities, graduate from high school with college-caliber grades and then successfully apply and attend four year colleges and universities,” according to the TRANS4M gala press release. The Foundation also provides funds for said students to graduate without debt.

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