Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Former NFL Player Embarks on Philanthropic Mission

Since leaving the NFL, former Atlanta Falcons’ safety Keion Carpenter has embarked upon a bold philanthropic mission by reaching out to communities of color and collaborating with various charities, including TIED TO GREATNESS™. And, he is showing no signs of slowing down.

With a schedule that could rival a pro-season roster, the 30-year-old has been speaking to youth in Maryland, DC, Atlanta and Charlotte about the importance of getting a good education, developing good character traits, and pursuing their dreams.

In March, Carpenter addressed hundreds of at-risk inner city high school males in Prince Georges County, MD and Charlotte, NC, as part of the TIED TO GREATNESS™ campaign; a national outreach program that promotes self-improvement through the involvement of positive male role models and fashion. The 11-city tour consists of a three-hour program featuring inspirational speeches by celebrities like Carpenter, hands on interaction and a necktie ceremony, which symbolizes a commitment towards making good decisions.

I grew up in Baltimore in a single parent home with a mother who was on drugs. And, I lived and hung in that environment,” said Carpenter at the Charlotte stop. "I vowed that I would do whatever it took to make my life better….by any means necessary…the right way.”

Other recent speaking engagements included serving as the keynote speaker at a high school rally for the first graduating class of the Academy for College and Career Exploration in Baltimore, speaking to males at Randallstown High School in Randallstown, MD at their “Your Life is at Stake” activity, and serving as the Grand Marshall of the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Baltimore this past January. He was personally selected to headline the parade by Mayor Sheila Dixon, the city’s first African-American female mayor, in recognition of his formal “transition” from NFL player to community advocate and one who is leading the way in addressing the housing situation in Baltimore.

Through his non-profit foundation The Carpenter House, Inc. (TCH), Carpenter is pursuing his passion of creating affordable housing for Baltimore families with limited income and family challenges; making the dream of home ownership a reality. He has been tirelessly working on having the first two single-parent families into a new home by the end of the summer 2008. “We are not just trying to get families in homes. We want them to be able to keep these homes. It is all about sustainability,” Carpenter states. Carpenter hopes to expand the program nationwide.

I played eight years in the NFL and you probably didn’t hear about me. And, that is okay,” says Carpenter. “But, now that I am retired and doing what I know I was destined to do, you WILL hear about me.”

On the web:

Source and photos: MWPR, Inc.

Monday, March 24, 2008

::Photos of the Day::


Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone speaks at the Stay Strong Foundation's national launch of the 'Healing Starts With Us' campaign on March 18, 2008 in NYC.


Actress and singer Vanessa Williams with students from P.S. 164 Brooklyn at the Young Audiences New York's 7th Annual Children's Arts Awards Gala on March 10, 2008 in NYC.


Actress Angela Bassett is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 20, 2008.


Soccer legend Pele is honored by David Beckham at the MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the U.S. Soccer Foundation's Gala Benefit on March 19, 2008 in NYC. The gala benefited Harlem Youth Soccer, a recreational league for inner city youth in New York.


Hip hop mogul Jay-Z is pictured at opening night of his 'Heart of the City' tour in Miami, March 22, 2008.
Photos: Getty/Wireimage

Friday, March 21, 2008

Philanthropy Profile: Michelynn 'Miki' Woodard

Last August, BlackGivesBack featured its first philanthropy profile on Michelynn ‘Miki’ Woodard, Vice Chair of the Kanye West Foundation, and President and Chief Operating Officer of West Brands. The purpose of the philanthropy profile is to highlight African Americans working in the field of philanthropy and it is hoped that by sharing their insights and wisdom, readers will have a better understanding about the field, its significance to African Americans and provide guidance to those working with our youth.

Miki has extensive experience in the field of philanthropy, particularly working with celebrities and their charitable giving. It was this experience that led hip hop superstar Kanye West and the late Dr. Donda West to appoint Miki as Vice Chair of the Kanye West Foundation. In part two of our conversation with Miki, she shares about the current activities of the foundation, gives advice for organizations seeking celebrity endorsement and provides suggestions for those interested in philanthropy as a career.

Tracey: In your current position at West Brands,what are your responsibilities as its President and Chief Operating Officer? 

Miki:  I run different business entities for Kanye, so that’s everything from our online website and technology development to any franchising that we might do, to real estate investments – it pretty much varies from day to day. So its any activity that is connected to Kanye offstage.

I was very saddened to hear of Dr. West’s passing. I know she was a driving force in the establishment of the Kanye West Foundation. In keeping true to her vision and passion of combating the nation’s severe drop out crisis, can you share with our readers the current direction of the foundation and future plans?

Absolutely! The foundation was her [Dr. West’s] vision and she wanted to focus on how Kanye would be able to give back to the world – we miss her dearly, but we are more dedicated than ever to the mission of the foundation.

We now have our first program up and running here in Los Angeles. The Loop Dreams program is in south central Los Angeles at the Challengers Boys and Girls Club. There are two different charter schools on this campus, so it’s perfect for us – because those are the kids that are able to cycle in and out of our program. We have a teacher and an academic tutor on site, and kids get tutoring, homework help and after school help. They also have to maintain a certain grade point average.

They get to learn about writing music – we have a studio that we built in the bottom of the Boys and Girls Club, so all of that is going on right now. We’re really happy with the students that we’re able to serve. We are looking at 2009 to do our next big fundraiser. We’re not sure yet in what form or in what city, and we’re probably going to hire staff to have someone focused on the foundation on a daily basis.

Prior to West Brands, your previous position was Program Director at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Foundation, where you consulted celebrities on their charitable giving efforts. For non profit organizations who are seeking celebrity endorsement for their cause or program, what advice do you have? What should they look for in selecting a celebrity?

At CAA, some of it was they [celebrities] wanted to start their own non-profit, some of it was unfortunately when their lives were touched by tragedy or a serious situation, and that would get them involved in a particular issue or topic. It was great because it was the whole spectrum – everything from giving them research, to putting together events, to connecting them with organizations, to working on screenings around different premiere events – it really ran the gamut. But it was all about how they could leverage their time and how to use their voice.

I think organizations should look for someone connected to the issue or have some sort of personal attachment, some depth and knowledge about the issue.

We got 20-30 requests a day for our most popular celebrities – just because they were popular – not because they were particularly vested in an issue. So you want to do some research and make sure that anyone you ask representing your organization is the right match and that’s how we would counsel people. What do you know about this particular person and what are you looking for in a spokesperson? Should it be someone local or regional instead of national? Is it somebody you need to come to events? Is someone needed to be on the board? Or just needed to lend their name? You really have to think through and be strategic – just because you have a big name on the front does not at all mean that your fundraising efforts are going to increase.

What suggestions do you have for those wishing to start a non-profit organization, or have already done so? How should they position themselves so they stay viable?

When I started my non profit, the most helpful thing was not taking it all on myself at once because I feel there’s so much to learn - and networking is critical. What helped me was using a fiduciary agent. We used a non profit where we were able to get them to take on the legal pieces, the accounting pieces, use their board members, and then we could focus on the mission. That really helped in the first year, then we were able to go out on our own more successfully. If you can do that and also get involved in networking groups, whether its ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) or the Council on Foundations – all of these different funding groups were really helpful. In the end, getting the check is all about relationships.

What advice do you have for those wishing to pursue a career in philanthropy?

Decide what does that mean – is it in non profit? Or do you want to be in corporate giving? Community relations? There’s so many different forms it can take. I’d say start with that kind of research – looking at sites such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar and become familiar with how different organizations and companies are able to make a difference so you can really determine that this is the path I’m most interested in – whether its program director, executive director - there’s so many different types of positions that the beginning is really about the research.

Miki also shared some universities with related degree programs: University of Southern California’s Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy; NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; North Park University Center for Non Profit Management in Chicago; and Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, New York.

Thank you Miki!

Miki’s favorite quote: Surviving is important, Thriving is elegant – Maya Angelou
Related Posts:
A Conversation with Michelynn 'Miki' Woodard
Hip Hop Superstar Kanye West Combats School Drop Out Rate Through Hip Hop Music

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Great Debaters Star Launches Scholarship Fund

Actress and NAACP award winner Jurnee Smollett has announced a $2 million dollar scholarship fund for Wiley College, the inspiration behind the award winning movie, The Great Debaters.


"The scholarship is in honor of Henrietta Bell Wells, the woman who inspired her character Samanthe Booke in "The Great Debaters," as well as the actress' mother Janet Smollett, a civil rights activist and humanitarian.

"I'm told I'm a statistic," Smollett said to the crowd. "I'm told that my young black sisters are disease-ridden...but we are greater than what society tells us we are."

The 21-year-old said the scholarship fund aims to "put young girls through college" and help curb the sensationalized images of Black women often seen on television. Smollett, who portrayed the only woman in a group of underdog Wiley College debaters in the film, was also presented with an honorary degree at the school's Founders Observance Convocation."

In related news, Henrietta Bell Wells recently passed away on February 27 at the age of 96. As the first and only female member of the debating team, she advised Denzel Washington on the movie. He called her “another grandma.”

A valedictorian of her high school class, she received a modest scholarship from the YMCA to attend Wiley College.

Her advice to today's students, “learn to speak well and learn to express yourself effectively.” Source: NYT

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rihanna's Girls Night Out

Grammy Award winning recording artist Rihanna is among the latest of celebrities who have partnered with corporations to support their charitable efforts. The pop sensation has announced a new partnership with Escada Fragrance and Island Def Jam to sponsor Girls Night Out!, a series of exclusive concerts that will benefit her foundation, the Believe Foundation and selected charities, as well as support her platinum album, Good Girl Gone Bad, which will be re-released this May.

The Believe Foundation assists and inspires children by providing everything from medical attention for children who can't afford it, school supplies for children in poorly funded public schools, toys for children who are terminally ill and clothes for children in homeless shelters.

This exciting collaboration offers fans special gifts and tickets to experience an exclusive Rihanna performance. Three concerts will take place in Chicago on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008, at Vision Nightclub; in San Francisco on Friday, March 28th, 2008, at Ruby Skye; and in New York City on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008, at HighLine Ballroom. Each Girls Night Out! performance will be in support of the Believe Foundation and a local charity Rihanna has partnered with. Rihanna is thrilled about these events, saying, "The exciting thing about these shows is that I was able to hook up my foundation, Believe, with three important charities and give something back to the kids in these communities."

Tickets to these exclusive concerts are only available with a purchase of Moon Sparkle, Escada's latest fragrance, which is available at Macy's, Dillard's and Sephora stores nationwide.

Visit or call (212) 477-8090 for more information about the Moon Sparkle fragrance, Rihanna's Believe Foundation and Girls Night Out!

Source: PRN

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photos of the Day

Howard Cross, OJ Anderson, Bruce Harper, Ray Lucas, John Starks and Herb Williams attend the 2nd Annual John Starks Celebrity Casino Night on March 14, 2008 in New York City.

Starks, a former New York Knicks player, founded the John Starks Foundation in 1994, whose mission is to provide financial assistance to high school seniors in the form of academic scholarships and to provide community programs focused on furthering the educational, recreational and career development of children and their families.

The academic scholarships are for students residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma and New York/Tri-State area high schools. For more information on the 3 Point Scholarship program, visit the foundation website here.

The Washington, D.C. chapter of the GRAMMY Foundation held its GRAMMY Career Day on March 14, 2008 at the University of the District of Columbia. Music producer Chucky Thompson (left) participated in the event, that featured interactive performances, hands-on workshops and panel discussions for high school students, all led by the leaders of the D.C. music scene. Other musicians that participated included Raheem DeVaughn and singer Lil' Mo.

Lance Gross, Eva Marcelle, Tyler Perry and Angela Bassett at the premiere of Tyler Perry's new movie, Meet The Browns in LA on March 13, 2008. The movie opens in theaters this Friday.


Former New York Knicks players Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Walt Frazier attend the New York premiere of ESPN's 'Black Magic' on February 25, 2008. Black Magic aired last night on ESPN, which highlights unknown stories of players and coaches who attended historically black colleges and universities, a group largely ignored by historians and sportswriters. Part one featured John McLendon, who successfully integrated the NAIA and NCAA tournaments, was the first to coach an integrated professional sports team, and the first to head coach at a predominately white institution; and Harold Hunter, the first black to ever sign a NBA contract (for $4,000). Catch part two tonight on ESPN, 9 pm EST and visit the website here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The 'Healing Starts With Us' Campaign

In the June 2005 issue of Essence magazine, author Terrie Williams shared her story of living with chronic depression, which drew over 10,000 letters from people who were living with the same struggle.


Fast forward to 2008, Terrie has written the book, BLACK PAIN: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, which has opened up a dialogue about depression in the black community - a topic often ignored. Terrie states, "This taboo topic is linked to most street violence, drug/alcohol abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse as well as physical health problems such as obesity and heart disease. We're afraid to talk to a therapist-we're afraid to talk to each other and the silence is killing us."

Terrie should know. As a licensed clinical social worker, she founded the Stay Strong Foundation that works to support, educate and inspire America's youth through programs and events such as mentoring, internships and job shadowing. In addition, Terrie is a public speaker, mental health advocate and founder of the Terrie Williams Agency, in which she represented some of the biggest names in entertainment, business and sports.

On March 13, 2008, the foundation announced the launch of a national campaign entitled "Healing Starts With Us." The campaign was created to encourage people to share their life challenges, so that the healing can begin.

The campaign will officially kick off on March 18, 2008 at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial & Educational Center in New York. The event will be hosted by Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence magazine and founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, and Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children's Zone. Among those scheduled to appear are Denzel Washington, Ruby Dee, John Amos, comedienne Mo'Nique and author Terry McMillan.

On the web: The Stay Strong Foundation and Healing Starts With Us

Source: Website

Thursday, March 13, 2008

::Photos of the Day::


Excited youth in Decatur, Georgia, participate in the Horton Hears You Hometown Challenge on March 9, 2008. Twentieth Century Fox and DR. SEUSS’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! challenged communities across the country to participate in the challenge by shouting out, "We Are Here!" just as Who-ville’s Whos do in the film’s climax. The community that screams the loudest will win a special hometown screening of DR. SEUSS’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! on March 13. Source: BroadcastAtlanta


Actor and comedian Chris Tucker along with TLC's Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins, participate as judges at Snapfinger Elementary school's talent show in Decatur, Georgia, March 6, 2008.
Photo: Todd R. McQueen/AJC

Model, activist and goodwill ambassador Liya Kebede launched her children's clothing line, Lemlem, on March 10, 2008 in New York. In 2006, Liya launched the Liya Kebede Foundation whose mission is to reduce maternal newborn and child mortality and to improve the health and well being of mothers and children around the world.

The foundation states it also aims to increase awareness and visibility of the importance of basic medical interventions which are extremely effective in improving the health and survival of mothers and children. Visit the foundation website here.


Producer and songwriting team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff celebrating their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008 in New York. Did you know that they wrote the Soul Train theme song? The duo, who are responsible for the 'Philly Soul Sound', also produced such hits as the O'Jays 'Love Train' and Billy Paul's 'Me and Mrs. Jones'. Kenny Gamble said in a 1988 interview, "we wanted to take social themes and translate them to commercial recordings."

R&B singer and actor Mario (center) surrounded by youth from the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles on March 12, 2008, where he announced the launch of his foundation, the Do Right Foundation.

The foundation's website states that its mission is to educate and inspire youth adversely affected by drug abuse in the home and young people in under resourced communities through programs and partnerships.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

::Urban News::

Two new reports were released this week that highlight disturbing epidemics - a growing health concern among African American teenage girls and the alarming 50% school drop out crisis among African Americans and Latinos:

Answering the Call - Addressing the Drop-out Crisis

In this report, the Youth Development and Research Fund (YDRF) in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) highlights innovative practices and creative initiatives used by organizations in several states to serve students who have already dropped out, or who are at risk of dropping out of school.

YDRF states: "Millions of young people drop out of high school each year. Research has shown that simply obtaining a GED or a job does little to add to long-term economic achievement. Furthermore, it often does not lead to success in post-secondary educational settings. Attainment of a four year high school diploma translates into higher earnings and fewer at-risk behaviors."

To obtain a copy of the report, write: NEA/Human and Civil Rights, 1201 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

To learn more about YDRF's workshops, seminars and other publications, visit here.

Nearly Half of African American Teenage Girls Infected with a STD

A CDC report released this week shows that nearly 50% of African American teenage girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD).

What's even more alarming is that even though the report was released this week, this data is 4-5 years old. Imagine what the numbers really look like now.

The researchers analyzed data from 838 girls between the ages of 14-19, who participated in a national survey. They found that overall, 1 in 4 teenage girls in the U.S. had at least one STD. They were tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes.
The most common STD found was HPV.

The Baltimore Sun quotes Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC's division of STD prevention:

"....the report highlights "extraordinary racial disparities" among those with sexually transmitted diseases. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, but make up 46 percent of the chlamydia cases, for example. He said the higher rates of infection do not necessarily mean there is more risky behavior among African-Americans teens, just that the teens are more likely to come into contact with a person with an STD because there is so much of it in the community."

Photo credit: istockphoto

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Photos of the Day

Neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu performs at a taping for VH1 last month in New York. On February 27th, Badu hosted a charity fundraiser to raise money for community outreach programs in her hometown of Dallas. All door and sponsor proceeds from the event, held at Ghostbar, benefited Badu's non-profit organization, B.L.I.N.D., which stands for Beautiful Love Incorporated Non-profit Development. The organization provides community enrichment programs for inner-city youth through music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and the refurbishment of the historic Central Forest Theater. Source:

Anika Noni Rose performs as the character 'Maggie' at the March 6th Broadway opening of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Broadhurst Theater in New York. Debbie Allen directs the all star black ensemble that includes Phylicia Rashad as 'Big Mama', Terrance Howard as 'Brick', James Earl Jones as 'Big Daddy' and Giancarlo Esposito as 'Gooper'. The play runs until June 22.
Photo credit: Sara Krulwick/NYT

Actors Andre Royo, Dominic West and Michael Kenneth Williams attend the Men's Vogue and Hennessy Celebration of the series finale of HBO's The Wire on March 5, 2008 in New York City.

Great Debaters star and NAACP award winner Jurnee Smollett attends the Great Debaters Screening and Debate at Comcast's Black History Month Event at the Millennium Theatre, February 28, 2008 in Southfield, Michigan.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Celebrates 35 Years By Raising $1 Million for Minority College Scholarships

Rachel Robinson, founder, the Jackie Robinson Foundation
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) hosted its 2008 Annual Awards Dinner at Manhattan’s venerable Waldorf Astoria hotel on Monday, March 3rd, celebrating the Foundation’s 35th anniversary. The star-studded gala paid tribute to individuals who embody the humanitarian ideals of Jackie Robinson and raised funds for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides four year college scholarships and extensive mentoring to academically distinguished minority students with financial need and records of leadership capacity. The event attracted more than 1,100 guests.

Clive Davis, JRF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Rachel Robinson and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks

Established in 1973 by Rachel Robinson, the wife of baseball and civil rights luminary Jackie Robinson, the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) is the nation's premier education and leadership development program. Transcending financial assistance, the Foundation equips its scholarship recipients with a comprehensive set of support services including mentoring, career guidance and practical life skills, resulting in a nearly 100% graduation rate, more than twice the national average for minority students.

The nearly 1,200 JRF alumni are both leaders in their professional fields and consummate ambassadors of Jackie Robinson's legacy of community service. This academic year (2007-2008), JRF is providing more than $3.1 million in scholarship assistance and program support to 259 Jackie Robinson Foundation students representing 30 states and enrolled in 93 different colleges and universities across the country. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $16 million in scholarship assistance has been provided.

Leonard Coleman, Jr., Chairman, JRF; Inez Jones, JRF scholarship recipient sponsored by Winograd/Prudential Financial; George Lucas, JRF award recipient; Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, JRF award recipient; Rachel Robinson; Della Britton Baeza, President and CEO, JRF
Chanel Cathey, a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar and a senior at Fordham, sponsored by JRF’s first and longest-running corporate partner, Unilever, was saluted in a poignant video tribute. Cathey, an aspiring journalist, has a profound record of public service. She founded a program that provides job-training and professional development for previously incarcerated teenagers and has launched a culinary arts program for adolescents, creating and implementing curriculum that combines professional culinary training and teaches entrepreneurship and job-training skills.

Leonard Coleman, Jr.; Della Britton Baeza; Rachel Robinson; Jimmy Smitts, actor and presenter
Legendary entertainer Bill Cosby served as the Master of Ceremonies once again—a role he has held for nearly three decades. The iconic event honored world-renowned film producer, director and screenwriter George Lucas, Chairman of Lucasfilm Ltd. with the ROBIE Achievement in Industry Award presented by noted actor and Brooklyn-native Jimmy Smits; higher education trailblazer, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President Emerita of both Bennett College for Women and Spelman College with the ROBIE Humanitarianism Award presented by Dr. Camille O. Cosby, decorated producer, writer and educator; and recording industry pioneer and cultural icon Clive Davis, Chairman, BMG Label Group, with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Tony-Award winning actress Julie White.

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole
The evening was highlighted by a riveting performance by last year’s American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks.

Additional celebrities attending included Spike Lee, Ahmad Rashad, Howard White (former basketball star and current Nike executive), Mellody Hobson (ABC Good Morning America contributor and President of Ariel Capital Management) and Bill Russell.

Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee, Mellody Hobson and George Lucas

Our distinguished honorees have truly embraced Jackie Robinson’s guiding tenet, ‘A life is not important except in its impact on other lives,’ said JRF President and CEO Della Britton Baeza. “These individuals are extraordinary not only for their profound record of professional achievement but also for their significant commitments to advancing equal opportunity and improving the human condition.”
Rachel Robinson with Clive Davis
Danielle McKinley, JRF scholarship recipient sponsored by Bernard Winograd/Prudential Financial; Sayan Ibrahim, JRF scholarship recipient sponsored by Goldman Sachs; Clive Davis; Adriana Lee, JRF scholarship recipient sponsored by Irving Caesar Lifetime Trust; Alex Kado, JRF scholarship recipient sponsored by the University of Minnesota; and Julie White, Tony-award winning actress
Source: Jackie Robinson Foundation

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Actress and activist Kerry Washington receives a Woman of Achievement Award at the 23rd Annual Women's Project Women of Achievement Gala on March 3, 2008 in New York City

Grammy award winning music producer and songwriter Dallas Austin (right) with Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones (left) and guest at the Dallas Austin Foundation's 3rd Annual Don't Stop the Music Gala, March 1, 2008 in Atlanta.

The gala benefited the foundation's Don't Stop the Music program, which is a curriculum based program providing recording studios in public schools to teach students song writing and music production.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas shared why his foundation provides recording studios in schools:

"With me, I couldn't relate to school because I was so into music. Every child has a gift, and parents should be paying attention to that. With music, a lot of times they can't get the equipment. Having studios for them at school takes care of that problem. If you could see the turnaround rate and the excitement these kids have! It changes their lives around...they get interested in English, music, social studies. It gives them a way to express themselves." Visit the foundation website here.

Wyclef Jean is honored by Diesel for his humanitarian project, the Yele Haiti Initiative in Canada, February 28, 2008.

Actors Louis Gossett, Jr. and Ruby Dee at the Launch for the Ossie Davis Endowment, February 29, 2008 in New York. Read previous post here.

Hip hop artist and actor Common receives a donation to his Common Ground Foundation from the Bank of America at the Keep the Change event in Chicago, March 1, 2008.

Kevin Liles, Warner Music Group Vice President and author of the book 'Make It Happen', is honored at the 9th Annual TJ Martell Family Day on March 2, 2008 in New York. Pictured with Kevin are his sons and Tony Martell (right). TJ Martell's Family Day provides hundreds of families with an opportunity to participate in a spectacular day full of fun, safe indoor gaming, sport and carnival activities and family fun to raise money for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.

**Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Bill Cosby book giveaway contest!**

Monday, March 3, 2008

Event: The Jayneoni Moore Children's Fund Hosts a Readalicious Book Bash: A Celebration of Reading

Photo: Wireimage

On March 1, 2008, the Jayneoni Moore Children's Fund hosted a Readalicious Book Bash in Los Angeles, California. The Readalicious Campaign provides new books to children while raising awareness of the lack of books accessible to children in economically disadvantaged communities. The Campaign has reached more than 1,000 children this spring alone - giving them a school bag bursting with books from prominent publishing companies such as Kane/Miller Publishing, Blue Apple Books and Simon & Schuster.

An array of adult and child celebrities were on hand to celebrate the joy of reading with a room full of excited L.A. Boys and Girls Club members. The children had the ability to create their own books in an arts and crafts area provided by Crayola. The children weren't the only ones to get caught up in the excitement and lighthearted mood of the event.

American Gladiator's Mayhem and actress Jodi Sweetin
The celebrities read from Smitten as well as other books of their choosing.

Actress Shar Jackson

Small Change singing Green Eggs and Ham

Actors Field Cate and Sammi Hanratty

Jennette McCurdy, Field Cate, Sammi Hanratty, and Mayhem

Actress Ashley Jones
Tichina Arnold, actress and star of Everybody Hates Chris
Other celebrities in attendance included actors Chico Benymon and Justin Martin.

David Gordon, the author of Smitten, and Susan Siegel, who thought up the book's concept, were present to read and sign the book. Afterwards, each child was treated to a signed copy of Smitten as well as a bag stuffed with books.

Susan Siegel, Jayneoni Moore and David Gordon
Jayneoni Moore, who is an honorary co-chair for this year's Read Across America Campaign, believes that reading is the foundation to learning and the key to ending poverty in black communities. Believing that there is a strong purpose to giving back to the community, Ms. Moore began her foundation in 2001 with a mission to aid disadvantaged children.

This year's focus for the Children's Fund is to provide books to schools in low income communities, as well as encourage parents to read with their children. A love of reading, Ms. Moore states, ensures success in all academic areas.

Madison Davenport, from the soon to be released "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl", shared her love of reading with this reporter. "Reading is a way to escape," she said. "A book can make you cry or laugh. It can even make you angry." It is that passion inspired by books that the Readalicious and Read Across America Campaigns are hoping to tap into to engender a life-long habit and joy of reading.

And if the smiles of these young boys are any indication, it seems that Saturday's event was a rousing success.

Read more about Jayneoni Moore and her Children's Fund here.
Thanks to Mikey and Jayneoni for the invite!
Photos: Patricia for BGB