J.K. Rowl­ing launches US arm of her Lu­mos non­profit


“Harry Pot­ter” au­thor J. K. Rowl­ing is hop­ing to tap into Amer­ica’s phi­lan­thropy and in­ter­na­tional reach as she launches the U.S. arm of her non­profit Lu­mos that works to keep dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren with their fam­i­lies and out of in­sti­tu­tions world­wide.

Rowl­ing was in New York City on Thurs­day to mark the start of Lu­mos USA, and said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press that she is cer­tain Lu­mos can solve “the prob­lem of in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion” by 2050.

The non­profit’s goal is to move the care of dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren away from group homes and or­phan­ages in fa­vor of find­ing ways to sup­port them and their par­ents and keep them con­nected as fam­i­lies within their com­mu­ni­ties. The or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mates 8 mil­lion chil­dren are cared for in in­sti­tu­tions world­wide.

“There are decades of re­search show­ing that in­sti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing chil­dren is in­her­ently dam­ag­ing,” Rowl­ing said. “It’s dam­ag­ing phys­i­cally, it’s dam­ag­ing psy­cho­log­i­cally, it’s dam­ag­ing emo­tion­ally.”

Rowl­ing orig­i­nally founded Lu­mos in Europe to help coun­tries re­form how they deal with vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is named af­ter a light-giv­ing magic spell in her phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful se­ries about a boy wiz­ard,

Lu­mos has been work­ing over the last decade in cen­tral and eastern Europe, and is now ex­pand­ing to Latin Amer­ica and Caribbean. Rowl­ing said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been in­vited to work in Haiti, where she said a ma­jor­ity of chil­dren in or­phan­ages and in­sti­tu­tions ac­tu­ally have par­ents, but those par­ents are un­able to care for them.

Rowl­ing said the or­ga­ni­za­tion hoped to tap into Amer­ica’s gen­er­ous char­i­ta­ble giv­ing, as well as im­pact its for­eign pol­icy around chil­dren’s is­sues.

“Amer­ica gives a phe­nom­e­nal amount of money, and we would love to see that aid and that phi­lan­thropy chan­neled to­ward sys­tems that sup­port chil­dren within their fam­i­lies rather than the sep­a­ra­tion of fam­i­lies,” she said.

Along with her work with Lu­mos, Rowl­ing is busy on cre­ative projects that in­clude a script for “Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the movie based on the Pot­ter spinoff book she wrote in 2001. She said at least one other chil­dren’s book is in her fu­ture, but didn’t elab­o­rate.

“I ab­so­lutely love writ­ing for chil­dren, so I’m cer­tainly not closing that door. I would love to do more,” she said. “It’s al­ways been for me. When the idea finds me, I’ll do it.”

Rowl­ing said she was also fin­ish­ing the third book in her se­ries writ­ten un­der the pen name Robert Gal­braith. She was un­masked as the au­thor af­ter the first book came out, and said she wor­ried briefly when that hap­pened that an­other book would be some­how less en­joy­able to write.

“I thought ‘This has blown it. It won’t be as much fun any­more.’ But ac­tu­ally it is,” she said. “I’m main­tain­ing Robert. Robert is quite real to me as an en­tity, so I like that. I know it’s pre­tense. I know it’s make­be­lieve, but it helps me to slip into that per­sona.”

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