'Bessie' Star Bryan Greenberg On The Olevelos Project & Inspiring Kids To Make Change

How could you possibly be surprised that Bryan Greenberg has a big heart? I mean, we all saw him playing guitar and singing to a baby on One Tree Hill way back when — there are just some things you just can't fake. And, for Greenberg, there are some things that you just can't ignore. Which is why the actor, following a trip to Tanzania in 2010, decided to get involved in his cousin Dory Gannes' charity, The Olevolos Project and never looked back. On May 16, Greenberg will host The 2015 Olevolos Project Brunch in NYC for the fourth year running to fundraise for the charity that provides education to children in the Olevolos village in hopes of shaping young leaders. "Without this fundraiser that they couldn’t go to school," Greenberg tells Bustle, "So, that’s what motivates me. It's very rewarding."

Greenberg is involved with every aspect of planning the annual brunch fundraiser, which speaks to how affected he was by his trip to Tanzania in 2010. "I wanted to help out — I was just taken aback by the poverty — I just wanted to do something," the How to Make It In America star tells me. The actor returned to the village in 2014 to meet the kids The Olevolos Project supports and to see their village and the schools the charity is able to put them up at for only $1700 per child. "I met these kids and I hand-delivered laptops to them and I saw that some of them are the best in there class now," Greenberg says, "It’s really inspiring because I don’t believe that you can change the world with just throwing money at some random stuff, I feel that it’s only through education and even if these kids grow up to get a job at a hotel or be a mechanic, that’s a win and that’s a start and that’s how we begin to change the world."

"It’s just great to see these kids raising their hands in class and they’re so happy," Greenberg tells Bustle about what he saw on his most recent trip to the Olevolos village. "I saw that the elders would look up to these kids now — these are like the new, young leaders. And they’re young kids but they look at them and they’re so proud of them," he recalls, "When a kid feels that admiration at that age, I feel like it emboldens them to become a leader."

Greenberg's received a lot of support from his former costars with his fundraising efforts, including One Tree Hill's James Lafferty, who is also on the host committee of 2015's brunch. "I’ve had a lot of support from the acting community which is great," he tells Bustle, which really doesn't come as a surprise. Greenberg's passion and drive for the project is infectious.