Stephen Paletta
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Stephen Paletta

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The best kept secret in music


"Oprah’s Big Give Winner, Stephen Paletta, to Give Back Big with Million Dollar Winnings, and Partners with Fellow Contestant, Eric Klein, to Change the Face of Philanthropy"

Unstoppable Team on Oprah’s TV Series Launches, Pays It Forward With 100% Accountable Grassroots Relief

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sunday night, on Oprah’s BIG GIVE season finale, the world learned who would win the title of the Biggest Giver. Stephen Paletta, who won our hearts as the business savvy family man, also won the coveted title and Oprah’s surprise reward of one million dollars. But for an audience that has grown accustom to “BIG TWISTS,” one could not be more exciting than a partnership announced today between Paletta and fellow contestant, Eric Klein, another audience favorite. The two want to change the face of philanthropy through accountable grassroots relief via the launch of, which allows people who donate to their projects to actually see how their money is being spent through video diaries on the site. They challenge large relief organizations to do the same.

Paletta and Klein, who hit it off from “challenge one” on the primetime TV series, proved to be an unstoppable team each time they joined forces on the show. Some of their favorite moments included raising funds and bringing communities together to aid the Denver Children’s Home and ensure a secure future for AJ Egan and her daughters.

“On the show, we realized how like-minded we are about philanthropy, while at the same time, how we compliment each other,” said Paletta. “Eric dreams up these amazing ideas, I’m the business guy, and neither of us quits until the job is done right.”

Since the series wrapped, the two have been working on grassroots relief projects in Africa and on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Their video cameras capture the results for donors who can track their progress every step of the way at

“Steve and I are both committed to accountable philanthropy,” said Klein. “That has been clear from the start. What’s strange, however, is that both of our lives were set on a course in 2004 that would bring us to this meeting point.”

In 2004, Klein was in an auto accident that changed his life in an unexpected way. Instead of having surgery, he took his $200K settlement to Sri Lanka where politics and red tape hampered the tsunami relief efforts of large organizations.

"It sounds crazy, but getting hit by that drunk driver was like winning the lottery. It allowed me to finally do what I'd always dreamed—give back in a big way,” he added.

From day one, Klein was meeting with locals, solving immediate problems and rebuilding the community of Sri Lanka. There, he met President Bill Clinton, from whom he received a written commendation. They continue to correspond about global relief.

Just months after Eric’s return, he spent a year leading (and personally financing) relief projects on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. There again, he saw the hands of large agencies tied by bureaucracy, while he and others provided urgent aid.

In 2004, Paletta’s life was also transformed by philanthropy. The CEO of his own company and devoted husband and father of three says a trip to Rwanda changed his life. As a result, he and his family financially adopted and correspond with 10 children in Africa.

"For the first time, I was really hands-on and connected to the plight of the poor and the Third World," Paletta said. "The images and the people I got to know would not allow me to just go back to work and worry about making my own money."

Paletta and Klein now work together. Paletta is a key member of Klein’s grassroots relief organization, CAN-DO, where he leads fundraising efforts, while Klein supports Stephen’s Journey, which focuses on relief projects for children and schools. Both organizations can be accessed through

On the site, visitors can view a video diary, which documents Paletta’s and Klein’s projects. Videos include their recent work in Rwanda to aid 3,500 refugees in the flood-devastated village of Bigogwe where 100 perished. Tents, building supplies, survival packs and food were delivered with donor names attached to each gift.

The duo has since returned to Africa where they’re rebuilding schools and libraries. They have also begun efforts on the Gulf Coast to help rebuild Hurricane Katrina-devastated homes. They are committed to setting a new standard for charity.

“Being paired together on that first show was fate,” said Paletta. “Eric and I work well together and it’s resulted into an exciting partnership in providing accountable relief. It's important for donors to see where their money is going.”

Paletta plans to turn his one million dollar BIG GIVE winnings into a multi-million dollar philanthropic movement. Individuals, businesses and corporations that want to get involved can learn more by visiting

Adds Klein, “We had three of the largest disasters in our history almost back to back - 911, Tsunami, Katrina - with billions of dollars in relief w - BusinessWire

"Green Chimneys - Testimonal"

“Steve Paletta has invested in doing good. When he speaks to others, including adolescents, they really get the message. It stays with them because he is so real and unselfish. Immediately you connect with Steve. He shares his dreams with others. He works hard to share his wealth with others. His family is with him all the way. A wonderful father and husband, I am proud to call him my friend.” - Managing Director, Green Chimneys





Philanthropist and Winner of Oprah’s Big Give
Even before being chosen as "the biggest giver" on Oprah’s Big Give, the reality TV show on philanthropy, Stephen Paletta decided to dedicate his life to helping others. "A few years ago," he says, "someone challenged me to decide if my life was to be about significance or success."

In 2004, he found his answer when he traveled to Rwanda - a trip that changed his life. "For the first time, I was really hands-on and connected to the plight of the poor and the Third World," he says. "The images and the people I got to know would not allow me to just go back to work and worry about making my own money."

As a result, Paletta and his family financially adopted and continue too support ten children in Africa. He also created The International Education Exchange, a nonprofit organization that builds schools and libraries, and trains teachers in Africa.

Since being awarded one million dollars for winning Oprah’s Big Give, Paletta founded a second nonprofit organization, Stephen’s Journey Foundation. Stephen’s Journey is dedicated to shining a light on social entrepreneurs around the world and the organizations they’ve founded and to provide a portal for donors to find effective, accountable grassroots nonprofit groups.
In addition to philanthropy, Paletta is a devoted family man, happily married to his wife Christine. They have three daughters and Paletta’s family is his proudest accomplishment.

Paletta graduated from Cornell University, where he was an All-American lacrosse player and a civil engineering major. After college, Paletta worked in his family's general contracting business before starting his own company in the same industry. He is currently CEO of Renaissance Integrated Solutions, a technology-based company in the pipeline industry. "I have been blessed with a lot of success," Paletta says.

"I knew Oprah's Big Give would inspire others to engage in philanthropy. Through my nonprofit foundations, Education Exchange and Stephen’s Journey I encourage people to join me as I focus on organizations and projects that allow you to help others around the world without ever leaving home."