The beginning of 2019 has been busy for my team and I, both through our main entertainment business Rick Smith Jr., Inc. and also via our charitable organization Magic Gives Back. With different reward tiers corresponding to various amounts of ticket sales (autographs, backstage passes, pizza parties, etc.), we are getting students involved in the process of fundraising. In fact, the idea behind MGB is to make giving back fun; by encouraging students to sell tickets to a Las Vegas-style magic show rather than carrying around backbreaking amounts of magazines or girl scout cookies, we are creating an enthusiastic environment around community involvement that lasts long beyond the night of our event!
Adding to the benefits of working with Magic Gives Back is that a partnership is completely free for schools hoping to get involved; we don’t require the districts with which we are working to spend a single cent, and we have easily raised over $10,000 at a single event. With a simple online ticket sales system behind our fundraising process, we work hard to make the entire ordeal completely stress-free for our partner schools. Since we handle the money counting and prize distribution, the only responsibility that falls onto the administration is to raise awareness of the event beforehand on social media and throughout the campus (we even provide the flyers with which to do so)!
Along with getting students involved in the ticket sales process, we have been pushing for more schoolwide interactivity throughout the preparation process – with students and parents adding videos of themselves promoting the show on social media, we are actively working to maximize attendance at this event, the likes of which can only be found elsewhere in Las Vegas!
Since I founded Magic Gives Back, I have gathered together many of the best entertainers in the business to join me in my mission of bettering the public education system across America. My long list of collaborators includes Drew Murray, who has helped turn my love for magic into a community-based organization; Michael Mage, a featured performer who I have been working with since 2001 (check out this video I made with him recently); Brent Schmidt, who has helped us with optimizing our lighting; Max and Myles Rapkin, who handle the IMAG of our show; and my wonderful assistants including Courtney Marchak, Erika Wallace and Renee Murry. We are also lucky enough to have the support of Elei Magic, Anthony, and Nate, and Cleveland Cavaliers Scream Team members Julian Mendez and Mark Hope, and last but not least, Sprint the dancer.
With this incredible group of performers behind me, I have taken the advice given to me by Mark Cuban on my Shark Tank experience and created an organization that might one day make its way to Las Vegas! Bringing communities together through Magic Gives Back has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career, and I genuinely hope to continue doing so for as long as I am a practicing a magician.