Monday, December 31, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Photobucket


The year 2007 will always be memorable for me as this blog, BlackGivesBack, was created. Since my first post in April, readership has greatly increased. I've also met some great people!

I'd like to thank my fellow bloggers for your support this year - whether you highlighted my site, linked to a post or left comments - your support is greatly appreciated. You all know its hard out here for a blogger.

I'd also like to shout out my west coast contributors, Stacey and Patricia in Seattle and L.A. Thanks for helping me with research and photos!

As this year comes to a close, check out the top viewed posts for 2007:

Hip Hop Superstar Kanye West Combats School Drop Out Rate Through Hip Hop Music
Event: 2007 Salute to Leadership Gala Hosted by the Tavis Smiley Foundation
A Conversation with Michelynn 'Miki' Woodard, President and COO of West Brands, LLC and Vice Chair of the Kanye West Foundation
Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007 - Kanye West
Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007 - Hill Harper
Raising Kanye - Happy Mother's Day!
Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007 - Chris Tucker
In Dedication to Dr. Donda West, Chair of the Kanye West Foundation
Conscious Jewelry
A NBA Hero: Etan Thomas
'It's Worse Than Crack'
Everyday Heroes: Leslie Caroline of the Riversider

In 2008, BlackGivesBack will feature more everyday heroes in your communities making a difference. These stories will also include prominent African Americans working in the field of philanthropy. I'll also continue to highlight issues that are having a significant impact in the black community and how you can get involved.

Want to know what your fave celeb is doing to give back? Want to share what you and your community are doing to make a difference? Send me an email at blackgivesback@gmail.com.

And most importantly, THANK YOU TO MY READERS FOR A GREAT YEAR!

Photo: NewYearsJoy.com via Photobucket

Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007: Honorable Mentions & Ones to Watch for 2008

Last week, BlackGivesBack released its inaugural Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists list of 2007. So who were those who almost made the list? Who are the ones to watch for 2008?

HONORABLE MENTIONS
These celebs traveled abroad to promote causes such as HIV/AIDS and showed children a healthier way to better living.

CHAKA KHAN
This past September, the First Annual International 'Playing for Good' Philanthropic Summit was held in Mallorca, Spain, that welcomed over 600 distinguished guests including many passionate philanthropists from around the world. One of those guests was the legendary R&B singer Chaka Khan, who represented her foundation, the Chaka Khan Foundation.

In April, Chaka took 50 inner city L.A. youth to visit the set of Judge Judy to learn about the legal system, legal careers and the importance of making good decisions. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy recalled the initial phone call from Chaka: "When she called and said, 'Would you speak to my kids?' -- I hadn't spoken to young people in a very long time." Chaka shared at the event, "We're going to see these kids through college and stick with this group for six years and make sure they go to college."
Related Post: Chaka Khan Foundation Teaches Kids Healthy Life-Style Living
LUDACRIS

 
Since 2006, hip hop artist, actor and Georgia State University alum Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges has partnered with the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) along with his foundation, the Ludacris Foundation, to raise awareness of runaway issues and resources available to keep our youth off the streets and safe. For Ludacris' efforts, he received a 2007 Spirit of Youth Award from the organization. The NRS stated that because of Ludacris being involved with their campaign, his voice and actions to increase national runaway awareness resulted in a 50% increase in calls to the runaway switchboard and a 60% increase in website hits.

Other activities the Ludacris Foundation sponsored this year in Atlanta was a back-to-school event that helped hundreds of children prepare for school with haircuts, dental and vision screenings, school supplies and more. In the fall, the foundation hosted 100 students from Atlanta Douglass High School and Morehouse College to participate in their 'Dreams. Resources. Reality.' leadership workshop. The workshop assisted the students in identifying the resources for their dreams to enable them to become their reality.

Related Post: Celebrity Philanthropy - LudacrisONES TO WATCH FOR 2008

COMMONHip hop artist, actor, hat designer and children's author Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known as Common, relaunched his Common Ground Foundation this year in an effort to foster empowerment and development of urban youth through education. The foundation will focus on HIV prevention programs targeting youth in the U.S. and Africa. An upcoming benefit is scheduled in February 2008 during Grammy weekend. Common shared this year, “I always believed that if we started with the youth then we would be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”
DAVID BANNER

 
Another person I'll be watching in '08 is Levell 'David Banner' Crump, hip hop artist, record producer and Southern University graduate. Although he has somewhat irritated me this year with his views on snitching and his support of Michael Vick, I genuinely feel in my bones that he cares about the black community in his own way. He recently stated, "why can rappers make it rain in the club but not make it rain on the needy people in the hood?"

This past September, Banner testified before Congress in a hearing about African American stereotypes in the media. In an interview after the hearing, Banner was asked what society needs to do in order to change inner cities. His response:

"In Jackson, Miss., there are no boys clubs, no recreational programs. But, they don't want you to be a gang banger."

Since 2005, Banner has sponsored recreational trips for youth from the Stewpot Neighborhood Children's Program in Jackson, Mississippi to a Six Flags theme park in Georgia providing admission to the park, food, transportation and t-shirts.

As I'm sure Banner may know, Mississippi has many other societal ills, specifically their public school system. My hope is that in '08, he will use his voice in positive ways - so I'll be watching you Mr. Banner.

Sources: ETonline.com, Reuters, AHH
Photos: Chaka Khan Foundation, Wireimage

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ron Artest: "Life Is Bigger Than Sports"

Sometimes, one incident can follow a person to the point where it defines them. Take as an example Sacramento Kings player Ron Artest - during the 2004-05 NBA season, he was involved in a nasty brawl involving a beer throwing fan and his then Indiana Pacers teammates in Detroit. The video of the melee was broadcast over and over again for days. NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for 73 games and the playoffs. After his trade to Sacramento, Artest faced more difficulty. He was suspended again in March for seven games due to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge with his wife.

Although he is known for his troubles on and off the court, he has a new outlook on life - his family and his community. His youngest daughter, Diamond, was born with one kidney. Doctors then discovered a cancerous tumor on that kidney and Diamond is now receiving chemotherapy treatments. In a recent NY Times article, Ron shared, “Everything that has gone on in my life, especially now with my daughter being sick, has made me change my priorities and see things from a different perspective."
This past summer, Artest traveled to Africa with other NBA players to participate in 'Feeding One Million' that provided food to impoverished families. Sportswriter Michael Tillery interviewed Artest earlier this summer at a charity event where they talked candidly about his professional career, his family and charity work, and how he's perceived in the media.

Snippets from the interview:

Michael: Why is it important for you to give back to children?

Ron: I think it’s important and should be especially a priority for me to give back to black people. I’m going to Honduras. They need my resources in Latin America. (Ron went to Honduras with Feed the Children in August and helped distribute food to families living in poverty). There’s a lot of poverty and neglect in the world and in our own country. I was also in Indiana and gave back to a poor white community that had a high dropout rate. BUT I have to give back to my people first and foremost. I know a lot of specifically black people that don’t give back. They change. I haven’t changed because of the money. You have kids that have gone to jail for dealing drugs. Then you may have someone out there that caught a domestic violence charge and people think they can’t change. You have black kids believing that. It’s my job to tell black kids that if you make a mistake, get back up on your feet. History shows that people make mistakes.

Ron also goes on to share:
They [kids] don’t look up to Tiger Woods, the 9 to 5 bus driver, or the sanitation worker. They look up to the street dude. I told the people in charge [at the charity event] that they needed to get in touch with the brothas on the street so they can give back. You can be out there doing negative dirt, but you can still give back. I ask the street dudes and hustlers: You mean to tell me that you want the next young fella to be doing the same thing as you do and end up in jail? Give your time and tell the kids that what you do isn’t right. Tell them to change their life and give them examples of your friends that didn’t make it because of the bad choices they made. Then you can go back and do your dirt, but hopefully you’ll change. Give the kids an opportunity to hear your experiences so they can make better decisions.

Michael: What do you want your legacy to be to the game of basketball–not just the NBA, the Red Storm or high school? What are you personally giving back to the game?
Ron: This is something that I never wanted to do, but I’m trying to change how people see me. It’s so hard. I know I’m going to get devils trying to shoot little bullets at me. I gotta dodge the bullets from the devils. It’s important that I go above and beyond what I have done with community service. I want to add to the thoughts of people and not just that I’m the guy who had this big fight. I want people to see my game so they will learn how to play better.

All my mistakes? I’m definitely sorry. People that look up to me, I want them to see me doing something that’s right. I see kids doing stuff in my neighborhood like drink and other stuff and I wonder what kind of affect did I have on them. I’m at a point where I don’t want to have a negative effect on anyone. When stuff was publicized, I used to say to myself that I now have to go out and do stuff double time in communities and give them a different side of me.

Read the entire interview at The Starting Five.

Monday, December 24, 2007

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

Photobucket


Happy Holidays to our readers from all of us here at BlackGivesBack!!!
'Tis the season to give!

Photo: The Atlanta Honors Choir performs at the Salvation Army's Angel Tree event in Atlanta.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jada Pinkett Smith To Be Honored At First Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of mega box-office star Will Smith, will be honored at the first annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon taking place during Oscar Week on Thursday, February 21, in Los Angeles.

The star-studded event will honor three of Hollywood's finest who have helped to change and inspire positive images of Black women in television and film -- both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes. The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon commemorates ESSENCE magazine's annual Hollywood issue. Jada is one of Hollywood's most versatile and gifted actresses, as well as a talented screenwriter/producer/director.

She is developing several projects for her own production company, 100%Womon (yes, that's the correct spelling), and her work as an actress can be seen in a number of feature films.


In addition to acting, Jada is the author of the popular book, Girls Hold Up This World, and one of the primary investors in the skin-care line Carol's Daughter. The active wife and mother-along with her husband-also find time for philanthropic pursuits through the couple's Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. The foundation benefits inner-city community development, youth educational projects and under-privileged children and their families.

In October, the foundation sponsored a benefit to raise funds for Lupus research (Jada at the event in photo at right). In 2006, she contributed $1 million dollars to her alma mater, the Baltimore School for the Arts.

"ESSENCE is pleased to honor Jada Pinkett Smith for her body of work in Hollywood and within the African-American community," said ESSENCE editor-in- chief Angela Burt-Murray. "The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon will celebrate the talent, vision and legacy of Jada and all of our honorees. We hope this event will also inspire a new generation of African-American actresses and filmmakers in Hollywood."

Source: PRN

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Hill Harper, A Role Model for Black Youth

Congratulations to Hill Harper, who is the number one black celebrity philanthropist on BlackGivesBack’s inaugural 2007 list, the Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007.

This is a well-deserved honor as Hill has spent much of this year inspiring our young black men to be all that they can be. From the success of his debut book, Letters To A Young Brother, Hill has traveled the country this year speaking at colleges, universities and even prisons – all in an effort to empower our youth.

“I want young men to have knowledge of the things that can bring them true empowerment; they don’t need 20-inch rims or platinum Rolexes to be magnificent. We’re finding self-esteem and self-worth problems with our young men."
The book provides encouragement and words of hope for boys, especially those who are lacking positive role models. To some it may seem that many individuals who advocate for youth at-risk come from similar environments. But Hill’s background is anything but. He was born in Iowa to a psychiatrist father and a mother who was one the first practicing anesthesiologists in the United States.

Hill began acting at the age of 7 and later enrolled at Brown University, graduating magna cum laude. He then enrolled in law school at Harvard University where he earned his J.D. and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. During his years there, he continued acting, becoming a full-time member of Boston's Black Folks Theater Company, one of the oldest and most acclaimed African-American theater troupes in the country.

He broke into professional acting in the early '90s, appearing in films such as Spike Lee's Get On The Bus and He Got Game. His best known role is Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the hit television series CSI:NY.


This year, Hill appeared on another television show. The Oprah Show. He received letters from juvenile inmates who were inspired by his words. Hill met with 29 of the youth prisoners, all 17 years of age and younger. First he held a group discussion and then met with each individually. One 16 year-old inmate shared about the impact of reading his book : "The minute I read the book, I looked at myself differently in, like, many ways," he says.
While on the show, Hill stressed the importance of promoting education and mentoring as an effective way to save today's youth.

Hill has received many awards for his accomplishments. He was honored by Martell Noblige at Discover Noblige, a celebration of charitable giving. He was honored at the event's launch in Los Angeles and was recognized at each respective city the tour visited as the program’s anchor. He also received the Usher Raymond Altruism Award at the Trumpet Awards ceremony for his accomplishments with his MANifest Your Destiny Foundation.

What's important to note is that Hill shows you can make a difference without opening your wallet. He is a strong advocate for mentoring, stating: "Mentoring is the key. All data suggests that across income, across race, that for a young man, if he has a positive male role model in his life, his chances for success and educational achievement far outweigh those that don't."
Hill also says it's time to rethink the way we talk to children about their education.
"We always tell kids, 'Go to school, go to school, go to school,' but we never tell them why," he says. "The answer is you talk about building a foundation. … These young people are never taught about journey. They're never taught about going from here to there and where education fits in that piece of the journey."
In the following YouTube video, he speaks on this issue. The short profile was taped during his book tour. He shares how he selects movie roles and he mentions that he's had arguments with Sean 'Diddy' Combs on why he hasn't shared his journey - the fact that Combs didn't go from the street corner to becoming a music mogul, but that he attended college and worked as an unpaid intern to become successful.



At the Trumpet Awards, Hill stated during his acceptance speech:

“One of our goals down the line is to build a retreat center so that the youth can go from the inner city into a big open place. So I’d like to build the institution and create learning tools like books, games, archives and other things that will be there long after I’m gone."
Next week: Honorable Mentions for 2007 and Celebrity Philanthropists to Watch in 2008!
Sources and Photo: Wikipedia, Oprah.com, Trumpet Awards

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Russell Simmons, The CEO of Hip Hop Philanthropy


If you look up the word philanthropist in the dictionary, you'll surely see a picture of Russell Simmons. Whenever there's a charity benefit supporting the African American community, he's there - either as a board member, attending the event as a supporter or by donating his own funds. He juggles running his foundation, the Rush Philanthropic Foundation, created in 1995 with his brothers Danny and Joseph while being a father and a businessman.
In its first 11 years, Rush Philanthropic has served over 700,000 urban youth, directed millions in funding from donors including individuals, foundations, and leading corporations to under served youth, and established two exhibit and education facilities, one in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood and the other in Manhattan’s Chelsea arts district.
The foundation’s annual Art For Life East Hampton and Palm Beach benefits raised more than $2 million dollars in 2006.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Art for Life Benefit in the Hamptons, 2007
For Russell, giving isn't about charity, its about empowerment. In a Q & A with Inc.com, Russell explains:
"To me, giving back isn't about charity. It's about empowerment. It's better to hand someone a fishing pole than a fish. That's the difference between helping someone lead a healthy lifestyle and just helping him survive, and it's one reason I've started so many companies."
His many companies he's referring to include Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Run Athletics, and Def Jam University; MTV's Run's House, HBO's The Def Comedy Jam and Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry and the Tony Award–winning Russell Simmons Def Jam on Broadway.
A yoga enthusiast and animal rights activist, Russell is busy. In 2006, he along with Kimora Lee Simmons announced the establishment of the Diamond Empowerment Fund to raise money for the development and empowerment of people and communities in Africa where diamonds are a natural resource. One of Simmons' business ventures is Simmons Jewelry Company, which has designed and manufactured specialized green initiative jewelry, including a bracelet that is worn by many celebrities. Twenty-five percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the green initiative items will go to the fund.
Russell is the Board Co-Chair of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), an organization that seeks to foster initiatives aimed at engaging the hip-hop generation in community development issues related to equal access to high quality public education and literacy, freedom of speech, voter education, economic advancement, and youth leadership development. This year HSAN sponsored Get Your Money Right, an eight-city financial empowerment tour that encouraged and motivated young people to become financially literate.


He has also published a book this year titled, Do You!, 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success. In 12 straight forward steps, Russell reveals a path towards success that can be followed not only by those looking to duplicate his professional success, but anyone struggling to realize their dreams.
On a recent Oprah show appearance while promoting his book, he explained that being a good leader means that you need to be, at heart, a servant:
"When you're leading, you're making other people better. And when you're serving, your job is to play a role as a key player," he says. "To know that allows you the freedom to be a good leader and inspire people. That's what you're here for."
Sources: Wikipedia, Oprah.com, Rush Philanthropic, Inc.com, HSAN

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete, A Couple Who Cares

This couple has it all: Great looks, a strong marriage, beautiful children and stellar careers-but what is really admirable about the Peetes are their philanthropic efforts. Former NFL player Rodney Peete and his wife actress and author Holly Robinson Peete have created a foundation to benefit adults and children living with debilitating diseases and other life circumstances. The HollyRod Foundation was inspired by Holly’s late father, Matthew T. Robinson, who succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 2002.

Every year, the foundation hosts its annual fundraiser, DesignCare. The 2007 event was a huge success, raising more than $350,000. Comedian and actor Chris Tucker who served as one of the auctioneers for the event, donated $100,000 from his own funds.

In February, the foundation sponsored EdgeTech Gridiron Glamour, an annual fashion show fundraiser held during Super Bowl weekend. Scores of philanthropists, athletes and celebrities attend this glitzy affair:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Chris Rock, Malaak Compton-Rock, Cedric The Entertainer, Holly and Rodney

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pat Smith (wife of Emmitt Smith), Rodney and Tracy Mourning
HollyRod has expanded its mission with the formation of HollyRod4Kids, which seeks to improve the lives of children living along the Gulf Coast who were affected by hurricane Katrina and children in Africa whose communities have been ravaged by civil war, famine and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The Peetes have focused a significant amount of their philanthropic efforts in Africa. They provided funds for the rebuilding of a school and assisted expectant mothers in Kenya.


The couple and their children were among a delegation to South Africa for the opening of Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership School for Girls. Holly stated that their children were changed from the trip:

"Our kids visited homes run by 11-year-olds, because the parents had been decimated by HIV-AIDS. It’s one thing to tell kids about the starving children in Africa, but when they sit down and connect with them, that was just—you can’t even describe what that’s like. They really came back changed and generally respectful about everything."
In an interview with Essence magazine this year, Holly shared about her passion for philanthropy:
“Marian Wright Edelman said, ‘Service is the rent we pay for living.’ I love that. Running a nonprofit can be rough, but a philanthropic high is like no other. It’s all about balance.”
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Sources: Ability Magazine, HollyRod Website, Essence.com/Photos: HollyRod Foundation

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wyclef Jean, An Ambassador for Haiti


On December 4th, hip hop artist and humanitarian Wyclef Jean released his newest album, Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant. But Jean has other important issues on his agenda. "My responsibilities have grown beyond music," Jean says. "For me, music happens to be secondary now. And the mission of the country happens to be first."

The country he is referring to is Haiti, his homeland. His goal is to improve the image of Haiti abroad, and to provide humanitarian aid and assistance through his Yele Haiti Foundation. Established in 2005, the foundation provides support for a variety of programs, such as teacher training, youth soccer programs and school rebuilding. He says that the objective of Yele Haiti is “to restore pride and a reason to hope, and for the whole country to regain the deep spirit and strength that is part of our heritage".
Jean moved to the United States at the age of nine. Although he lived in an impoverished area in New Jersey, he thought he lived in the suburbs compared to his native country. In 1987, Jean with his friend Pras Michel and classmate Lauryn Hill formed a hip hop group that became known as The Fugees – short for refugees. Jean eventually married and the couple has one daughter, whom they adopted from Haiti. Their daughter is named Angelina, after their good friend actress Angelina Jolie.

In 2006, Angelina and actor/humanitarian Brad Pitt accompanied Jean to his foundation’s one year anniversary in Port-au-Prince:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This month, Jean visited youth in a Haitian prison. They ranged in ages from 11-19 , incarcerated for crimes such as rape, petty theft and murder. Jean’s charity has partnered with the group Foundation PRODEV, to improve living conditions in the jail and to provide educational opportunities for them. Jean stated, "These kids should have the opportunity to have beds, to play sports in the prison. There should be teachers who teach them how to write and how to read, so if they get out, there's a future."

Jean has received numerous awards for his philanthropic work. In October, he received the American Express Award at the One X One benefit in Toronto presented by actor Matt Damon. His charity performances and appearances this year include the benefit concert for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, CNN Heroes and the Apollo Theater Foundation Spring Benefit.

Also in October, Jean was named goodwill ambassador to Haiti by its President Rene Preval. He says his next step as ambassador will be to set up a lobbying office in Washington to promote development in Haiti.

When asked about any political ambitions, he stated, "I don't have any political ambitions, but the people of Haiti have political ambitions for me. I feel that the way I am moving, I'm doing more than a president."
Compiled with AP reports/Photos: Yele Haiti,Wireimage

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kanye West, Combating the Drop Out Crisis

Kanye has no doubt experienced highs and lows this year: His album Graduation went double platinum in September, and he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved mother, Dr. Donda West, who served as his manager and chair of the Kanye West Foundation.

Previous album titles such as The College Dropout and Late Registration clearly show that Dr. West's thirty-one year career as an educator instilled in her son the importance of education. So much so that this year, Kanye brought awareness to the nation's silent epidemic of the 50% high school drop out rate among African Americans and Latinos. He stated that if someone were to take 50% out of your bank account you'd definitely notice - so why wouldn't we notice when 50% of our kids drop out of school?

In 2003, Kanye and his mother established the Kanye West Foundation, an educational nonprofit that works to decrease school dropout rates and improve literacy. The foundation's signature program is Loop Dreams, a drop out prevention program that involves music production and hip hop - to help keep kids engaged in school and to ultimately graduate. The program was launched at the Accelerated School in South Central Los Angeles in 2006. The youth studied hip hop culture that included the history of rap, famous rappers, how to create a track, the impact of positive vs. negative lyrics and careers in the music industry. Since the foundation's launch, Kanye has contributed over $450,000 dollars to his foundation.

This past August, the foundation held its inaugural benefit concert in his hometown of Chicago. (See related post here). The benefit also officially launched the foundation's partnership with ED in '08, also known as Strong American Schools, creating a PSA that focused on the drop out crisis. In the PSA Kanye says:


"Becoming a music superstar took hard work but it also took a solid education.
Too many kids today are failing to get the education they need to succeed in college, a career or just life itself.
Half of Latino and African American students don't graduate high school.
Even students who graduate aren't being given the skills to get good jobs.
I'm doing something about that and you can too."



In addition to Kanye's numerous music awards, he has been honored for his contributions to society. In February, he was honored at the 100 Black Men of America's annual benefit. In addition, he has performed at various charity concerts this year, among them for the late Princess Diana and Live Earth. Kanye also supported his father's rally and march for World Water Day.


In Dr. West's memoir, Raising Kanye, Life Lessons From The Mother of A Hip Hop Star, she shares that one of her most proudest moments as a mother came when Kanye asked her when he would start giving back:
"In the first throes of success instead of thinking only about all of the things he would do for himself, he was also thinking about what he must do for others. That was a proud moment for me."
She goes on to share that at this time, Kanye was just beginning in the music industry and there still wasn't a whole lot of money coming in at that time:
"But Kanye had a plan. He decided that he'd give ten percent of whatever he netted to someone less fortunate. It made me feel good that Kanye was so intent on giving that he would sacrifice something he could have purchased for himself."

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kevin Liles, An Urban Hero


In September of 2007, the 2900 hundred block of Presstman Street in Baltimore was renamed Kevin Liles Drive, to honor its native son.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Liles, the Executive Vice President of Warner Music Group, has generously donated to Baltimore's schools and its sports stadiums, as well as giving to causes around the country. In 2002, he donated 150,000 to his alma mater, Woodlawn High School to finish construction of the school's stadium. It is because of his philanthropic efforts that he was recognized as an "urban hero."

His career began as an unpaid intern at Def Jam Records in 1991 and in ten years he rose to become president at the young age of 30. Liles is credited with increasing revenues from 100 to 400 million in just four years.

He shares his blueprint for success in his book, Make It Happen: The Hip Hop Generation Guide to Success. The book offers 10 rules of business success such as "Find Your Will" to "Don't Let Cash Rule" and "Play Your Position."

Liles has created the foundations, the Kevin Liles for a Better Baltimore Foundation, that aims to provide academic, social and financial opportunities for Baltimore youth and the Make It Happen Foundation named after his book. In June, the Make It Happen Foundation hosted the ING Power Brunch that honored fellow philanthropists Rodney and Holly Robinson-Peete:


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


In addition to honoring others, he has received numerous awards. This month, the ACLU of Southern California honored him with the Bill of Rights award presented to him by sports legend and businessman Magic Johnson.

In a previous interview with the Baltimore City Paper he was asked why he created his foundations:


"I wanted to create a foundation that starts in Baltimore, but it ends up all over the world. There’s Kevin Liles For a Better Baltimore, but I want there to be a Jermaine Dupri For a Better Atlanta. And I want [there] to be a Snoop Dogg For a Better Los Angeles, I want there to be a Jay-Z For a Better Brooklyn and a Ludacris For a Better Bankhead. I want to start a movement. And mine is Kevin Liles For a Better Baltimore, because I’m claiming it. I’m claiming that we’re going to have a better city. And every day, we should make it our mission."
Compiled with sources from Answers.com, Baltimore City Paper, Kevin's Website

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Victoria Rowell, An Advocate for Foster Children

You may best remember actress Victoria Rowell as the character Drucilla Winters on CBS's long running #1 soap opera, the Young and Restless. In this role which spanned 14 years, the soap turned down Victoria's offer to write for the show. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it was then that she began to write her best selling memoir, The Women Who Raised Me.
Victoria spent the first 18 years of her life in the foster care system. Her memoir tells the story of many remarkable women - among them Bertha, Agatha, Esther, Linda, Rosa and Sylvia, who raised and nurtured her when her mother could not. These women made her the actress, mother and humanitarian she is today. During the years Victoria was in foster care, her mother was in and out of mental institutions for her schizophrenia and did not see her daughter until 7 years later. At the young age of eight, Rowell was offered a scholarship from the Ford Foundation to study ballet at the Cambridge School of Ballet in Massachusetts. She transitioned to acting in her 20's after years of modeling and professional dancing.

In 1990, she founded Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, a foundation that enriches the lives of foster children through artistic and athletic expression. Through her foundation, memoir and public speaking engagements across the country, she has become a passionate champion for foster children like herself. She stated:

"Growing up a foster child, little did I dream that someday I would have my own nonprofit organization dedicated to helping foster children."



Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

December 16: Victoria Rowell along with Kenny and Chante Lattimore and her children at the foundation's holiday party for foster families and their children.
In May, Victoria's foundation hosted the annual Tea at High Noon event, which honored actress Angela Bassett:


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In addition to advocating for foster children, Victoria heightened awareness of certain health issues within the African American community. Today, an estimated 40% ofAfrican-American women in the U.S. over age 50 have low bone mass, where bones become increasingly brittle and painful. She partnered with LACTAID(R) Milk to educate lactose intolerant African-Americans about the importance of calcium and Vitamin D.


During the year, Victoria traveled to colleges, universities and conferences, such as the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Center for Black Philanthropy's annual conference in June.

Victoria states on her website:

"I continue my advocacy efforts to change perceptions and bring national attention to the plight of the over 500,000 foster children in this country, many of whom have significant educational and emotional needs, and who have suffered either neglect or physical and emotional trauma. Foster children are good kids. With guidance and instruction, they will be prepared to become self-sufficient, successful adults."


Related Post: Victoria Rowell & Friends Harlem Hospital Benefit
Sources: PRNewswire, Wikipedia, Website

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Alonzo Mourning & Tracy Wilson-Mourning
Enriching the Lives of Miami's Children

Miami Heat player Alonzo Mourning along with his wife Tracy have been philanthropic staples in Miami for the past ten years. This past summer, the couple held their 10th annual Zo’s Summer Groove, an annual event which raises money for their foundation, Alonzo Mourning Charities (AMC). The foundation has raised more than $6 million dollars for various organizations that aid in the development of at risk children.

Earlier this year, Alonzo shared why investing in our youth is important to him:

"We continue to read about and witness the mounting evidence of the consequences our youth face when growing up without a safe and supportive place to go in communities that don’t offer productive and enriching activities to support their dreams. Investing in our youth is a personal and community-centered commitment.”
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

July 2007: NBA star Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Alonzo & Tracy at Zo's Summer Groove
No doubt that Alonzo’s early experience in the foster care system has influenced his desire to give back. In October, Alonzo was honored with the Angels in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, which recognizes those that enrich the lives of foster and orphaned children. Alonzo and Tracy were also recognized last month with the 2007 Champion for Children Award from the Children’s Trust of Miami. The award recognizes dedicated child advocates in the Miami-Dade County community.


Other charity events the couple held this year were the AMC King Pin Classic and Zo’s Million Dollar Shoot Out. They are avid supporters of their peers philanthropic efforts, among them Tiger Woods and Ludacris. Tracy Mourning also runs Honey Shine, an initiative of AMC that provides mentoring for young girls in the Miami area. (In photo at right: Tracy with the girls of Honey Shine at their Hats Off luncheon fundraiser in April.)

In addition to raising funds for his foundation, Alonzo was instrumental in the opening of the Overtown Youth Center, which helps to enrich students through educational and recreational programs. In 2003, Alonzo underwent a successful kidney transplant that inspired him to create Zo's Fund for Life to raise money for kidney research, education and testing.

Lastly, Alonzo and Tracy know that the legacy of giving begins at home. Their 11- year old son Trey helped to distribute 400 Thanksgiving turkey dinners last month to needy families in Miami.

His son expressed that it was great helping his father do good deeds:

''It feels good. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps. When I get older I want to continue to help out in the charities. Its fun helping him out.''
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
August 2007: The family at Zo's Million Dollar Shoot Out

Sources: NBA.com, Miami Herald.com
Stay Tuned: Next week the 2007 Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropist list continues with #7 through #1!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Don Cheadle, A Champion For Darfur


In 2004, a Texas congressman contacted actor Don Cheadle after seeing his movie Hotel Rwanda, to invite him on a fact-finding trip to Darfur. In 2005, he took the congressman’s offer and he’s been a changed man ever since.

Here's a brief background of the Darfur crisis [CNN]:

The Darfur crisis began in February 2003 when black Sudanese rebels attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the country's Arab population in northern Sudan.

The government is accused of arming the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia, whose members have raped, killed and tortured Darfur civilians.

The United Nations calls this the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and estimates that more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

In interviews earlier this year, Don shared that since his 2005 trip, “it was difficult to come back to my comfortable life and take stock in all the privileges ... and do nothing."
He also shared in an interview this year with the Orlando Sentinel:

" I realized I could do a lot more, we all could do a lot more, than sit at home and wring our hands..I made sure that I did. I asked that same question anybody would, which is 'What can I do?' "

In May, Cheadle along with humanitarian John Prendergast published the book Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. The book details what they saw while in Darfur and tells how people can take action and get involved.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Don Cheadle with John Prendergast in Darfur

This year, Don starred in the movies Talk To Me, a biographical story of Petey Greene, a D.C. radio legend and Ocean's Thirteen. It was the Ocean's Thirteen premiere that served as a launch for his foundation with the movie's co-stars, Not On Our Watch, which aims to raise money to raise awareness of the Darfur crisis.

Don graced one of the covers of Vanity Fair's Africa issue this year and he has co-produced, appears in and narrates the documentary Darfur Now!, which opened in much of the country in November. For more information and to view the trailer, go to www.myspace.com/darfurnow.

The book’s co-author John Prendergast says: “Because of Don, thousands and thousands of people who otherwise would not have known about Darfur are now educated and active. That's quite a legacy."

Website: http://www.notonourwatchproject.org/

Sources: CNN, Orlando Sentinel
Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel