Jussie Smollett (R) with Black AIDS Institute President and CEO Phill Wilson and Board Chair Grazell Howard (PRNewsfoto/Black AIDS Institute)

Jussie Smollett (R) with Black AIDS Institute President and CEO Phill Wilson and Board Chair Grazell Howard

*You’ve heard of the phrase, “making a dollar out of 15 cents?” Actor Jussie Smollett took to another level by finding a way to double his $20,000 donation to the Black AIDS Institute, which ended up receiving a total of $40,000 through matching donations.

Smollett and his younger sister, actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell, have been HIV/AIDS activists since they were 15 and 12 years old, respectively. Both have been inducted into the Black AIDS Institute’s “Heroes in the Struggle” Hall of Fame and both have made financial contributions toward the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Currently, Jussie serves on the Institute’s board of directors and Jurnee is an HIV/AIDS ambassador.

When faced with the Institute’s recent budget shortfall, Jussie didn’t just write a check for 20 grand to help the cause, he decided to make his $20,000 donation a challenge gift, where a donor makes a contribution contingent upon other donors also contributing.

“So, in the end, we turned Jussie’s $20,000 contribution into $40,000,” says Phill Wilson, the Institute’s President and CEO. Those donations not only helped close our budget gap. They also helped us launch a testing campaign where we developed a monthly support group for 30 to 40 men.”

“Jussie talks the talk, walks the walk and puts his money where his mouth and heart are,” Wilson continued. “We have many celebrities who support our work, and I am eternally grateful for their voices and time. But money fuels change. It takes dollars to test people for HIV; it takes donations to link people to care; it takes resources to resist the draconian and devastating attacks Donald Trump and his administration are waging on the HIV/AIDS community. If the President and the Republican-led Congress have their way, we are going to lose any opportunity to end the AIDS epidemic. Jussie understands that.”

Smollett’s next project for the Black AIDS Institute is chairing the 2017 Heroes in the Struggle Gala in September.

“I can tell you one of this year’s honorees will be none other than my TV mom, Taraji P. Henson,” said Jussie in a statement. “The Gala promises to be one of the events of the year. The other ‘sheroes’ are equally beautiful, talented and fierce as Cookie Lyon.”

Founded in May of 1999, the Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank in the United States focused exclusively on black people. BAI’s mission is to end the AIDS pandemic in black communities by engaging and mobilizing institutions, leaders, and individuals in efforts to confront HIV/AIDS.