Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Buy A Bag, Feed 100 School Children in Rwanda

Looking for a reusable shopping bag? Try this one:

Photobucket
Actress Shamika Cotton of HBO's The Wire, with the new Feed 100 reusable shopping bag
FEED Projects, a socially minded business with hopes of feeding the world, and Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today the new FEED 100 reusable shopping bag will be available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom beginning May 1.

Each bag purchased for $29.99 will help provide 100 nutritious meals to hungry school age children in Rwanda through the United Nation World Food Program's (WFP) School Feeding Program.

The bag was designed by Lauren Bush, co-founder and CEO of FEED Projects and a former fashion model, who stated, "Creating the FEED 100 bag was inspired by the need to take better care of children and the planet at the same time."

When a Whole Foods Market customer buys a FEED 100 bag, $10 will be donated by FEED Projects' foundation, FEED Foundation, to the World Food Program's Rwanda School Feeding operation. To further help the initiative, Whole Foods Market is not making a profit by offering the bags to its shoppers.

About Rwanda: In 1994, Rwanda lost 800,000 men, women and children to genocide; as a result, the nation's economy and social structures were decimated. Since 2003, the World Food Program has provided free, nutritious school lunches to Rwanda's children in 300 schools in the most food-deprived areas. Each hot, nutrient-rich meal draws boys and girls to school, helps them learn, and may be the only meal they have all day. School attendance has grown from 63 percent to 93 percent, and to help close the educational gender gap, girls with good attendance may receive extra rations to take home to their families.

The FEED 100 reusable shopping bags can be found at checkout counters at all Whole Foods Market stores starting May 1, 2008. For more details on the bag, visit http://www.feedprojects.org/. For a listing of stores, visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/.
Source: PRN
Photo: Wireimage

Friday, April 25, 2008

Photos of the Day

Jaci and Morris Reid Jaci Reid and B Michael Jaci Reid

Washington, D.C. based philanthropists Jaci and Morris Reid attend the New Yorkers for Children's April Fools Fete in NYC. NYFC is a non-profit that supports the child welfare community, as well as those programs that focus on the individual needs of young people in foster care. Jaci is a contributing writer for Capitol File magazine and has a feature in an upcoming issue of Uptown magazine. Her most recent articles cover Russell Simmons' Diamond Empowerment Fund and the story and charity work of actress Victoria Rowell. Second photo: Jaci Reid with designer B. Michael.

Photobucket

Russell Simmons with R&B songstress Ciara, participate in the 2008 National Hip-Hop Team Vote launch at Temple University in Philadelphia, April 20, 2008.

Photobucket

Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning at the 11th annual Tiger Jam at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on April 19, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tiger Jam is an annual event that raises money for the Tiger Woods Foundation and select local charities.

Photobucket

Bill Cosby, actor/comedian Chris Tucker and Judge Arrington gave a tough love message to a packed auditorium full of African American youth and their parents at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, GA on April 24, 2008. Judge Arrington made news earlier this month when he asked all of the white individuals to leave his courtroom so he could deliver a message to the black defendants. From the AJC.com:
 
"Arrington responded by asking the white people in attendance to leave so he could speak frankly to the 50 or so young, black defendants. Arrington said he was following his grandmother's admonition not to air the community's dirty laundry in front of whites, but apologized soon after for a "bad judgment call."He's since reconsidered, as reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, Arrington said. Cosby was among those cheering." Photo: Mikki Harris/AJC


Photobucket

Producer Berry Gordy (R) with musician Smokey Robinson (L) and his wife Frances (C) attend Smokey Robinson's Join Us and Give Back Gala on April 20, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. The event raised funds to further the mission of the Smokey Robinson Foundation, which is to financially support educational programs and organizations that provide scholarships to qualified candidates. Visit the website here.

Photobucket
Tennis champ Serena Williams unveils the Nike 2008 Women's Fall line, April 24, 2008 in Venice, CA.


Photos: Westin Rinehart, Wireimage

Thursday, April 24, 2008

BlackGivesBack Celebrates One Year!

One year ago today, BlackGivesBack was created! Check out my first post here. I’ve met some great people this year, all committed to uplifting our youth and improving communities. As I meet people, the question I get most often is: Who are you and why did you start your blog?

Who am I? My name is Tracey and I’m an African American female residing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in psychology, and I’ve worked with just about every population you can imagine: drug abusers, juvenile offenders, the mentally ill, teen parents, the homeless, and my favorite - children and youth. So I’ve seen firsthand the ravaging effects of HIV/AIDS and youth violence’s impact on the black community and to put it simply, it bothers me.

It bothered me that when I worked as a Director of a teen parent program in a predominately black low-income community, many of the black businesses I approached in that community did not donate goods or their time to help.

It bothered me that I couldn’t find any black male mentors for the black boys on my caseload when I was a social worker.

It bothered me that I had to go to school to regularly meet with teachers about Johnny’s progress, when the parents should have done so.

A prominent black pastor once said, when something bothers you and it gets under your skin, then you’ve found your purpose. So that, my dear readers, is why is created BlackGivesBack.

To encourage and inspire people who want to make black America better. To highlight those who are making a difference, from everyday heroes, to prominent philanthropists, to celebrities. To inform you, the readers, of resources in your community. To encourage you to mentor. To donate your time to a worthy cause. To give back.

Highlights of my first year include covering charity events including the inaugural Kanye West Foundation benefit in Chicago, the Tavis Smiley Foundation’s Salute to Youth Leaders Gala in L.A. (I know Tavis is catching heat now, but he’s mad cool) and the Jayneoni Moore Children's Fund Readalicious Book Bash, in L.A. Special thanks to my contributors Patricia and Stacey!

What’s to come? More event coverage along with celebrity interviews and profiles of organizations and individuals working to make a difference in communities across the country. In addition to expanding this blog, I have something exciting that I’m planning for BlackGivesBack, but um, I’m a little superstitious, so I won’t tell now, but you readers will be the first to know!

Thank you all for a great first year!

Peace,
Tracey

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Show Me the Way Foundation Announces 2008 Runway Red Celebrity Kids Fashion Show

Photobucket
The Show Me the Way Foundation is pleased to announce Runway Red, the 2nd annual charity fashion gala featuring pint-size socialites, mini-me movers and shakers and their well-known celebrity parental escorts. The non-profit foundation provides mentoring and positive group activities for youth infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS and other terminal health issues. Runway Red takes place on Saturday, July 26, 2008 at the America's Mart in downtown Atlanta.
With former celebrity support including the children/ family of Outkast, Nelly, Jermaine Dupri, Mayor Shirley Franklin and more - this year's show aims to unite some of the most recognized faces and influential members of society to rally support in fighting an epidemic that effects millions of people every day. Statistics show that Georgia is the ninth state in pediatric AIDS cases in the U.S. Out of over 500 AIDS organizations in Georgia, there are only 13 that focus on children with HIV/AIDS.
Photobucket
Jermaine Dupri and daughter
 
Photobucket
Big Boi (Outkast) and family
 
Runway RED will be entertaining and informing as guests will enjoy learning about the sole purpose of Campaign RED while viewing exclusive fall and winter Back to School collections from Macy's and high-end fashion designers from all over the world including: Jack & Jill, Sean John for Kids, Rock and Republic, Lil Miss Muffet, Burberry for Kids, Paige Denim, Tommy Hilfiger, and Bo Peep Kids.

Tashawnya Menefee, President and Founder of the foundation stated, "Foundations such as Show Me the Way are unique and special because a cumulative total of 14 million children in the world have lost their mothers or both parents to AIDS and we focus many of our efforts on serving this specific demographic."

Join the Show Me the Way Foundation for Runway Red, Saturday, July 26th and help make a difference. Special thanks to this year's top tier sponsors - Macy's, V-103, and Jezebel Magazine. Tickets are on sale at http://www.showmethewayfoundation.org/ - click on Runway Red.
For more information, and for media and celebrity VIP contact The Garner Circle PR, 770.256.1800.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Retired NFL Player Teaches for America

Retired Carolina Panthers player Mike Minter is a prominent African American entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader in the Carolinas. He recently joined the ranks of politicians, educators, authors, CEOs and others in local high-need schools as a guest teacher for Teach for America, inspiring students and raising awareness of educational inequity in our nation.

Teach For America Week, which was held April 14-17, 2008, is an annual nationwide event in which leaders from all professions spend an hour of their time teaching children from some of our lowest income communities.

On April 15, 2008, Mike taught math at West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He shared about the experience, “I was honored to spend some time in the classroom to inspire students to pursue academic excellence. I think I enjoyed it as much as the students! Standing in front of that classroom and seeing the expressions on their faces once they understood what I was teaching was a whole new level for me. The children are our future and if we don’t take time to encourage them, embrace them and to invest into them financially and in their education, then we’re all in trouble.”

This is just one of the many philanthropic activities that Mike is committed to. On a mission trip to Africa with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, they analyzed the ability to bring food, water, and resources to the more rural and poverty stricken areas. He is also the spokesman for several non profit organizations including his local Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club. On his website, he shares about where his giving spirit comes from: "It comes straight from my mom. The gift of giving is a gift. I haven't always had something to give, but I always said 'When I make it, I'm going to make sure I give back.' So when I got the opportunity to give, I was on it."

Photobucket

Photobucket

Visit Mike's website here.

On the web: Teach for America, http://www.teachforamerica.org/

{Thanks Laura}
Photo: CharlotteVibe

Monday, April 21, 2008

Verna Dauterive's $25 Million Dollar Gift

Via USC News:

Verna B. Dauterive M.Ed., Ed.D. has pledged $25 million to her alma mater, the University of Southern California. Her gift, whose specific designation has yet to be determined, is made in memory of her late husband, Peter W. Dauterive, a 1949 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business.

“This is a history-making gift,” said USC President Steven B. Sample. “It is the largest ever made by an African American to a U.S. institution of higher learning. We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Verna Dauterive – an alumna who personifies excellence in her professional and civic life – for honoring her alma mater in this way.

Born and raised in Louisiana, the Dauterives met as students in USC’s Doheny Memorial Library and maintained lifelong ties to the university.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Peter Dauterive enrolled at USC under the GI Bill. He graduated near the top of his class, and USC secured a placement for him at the Broadway Federal Savings & Loan Association, where he rose to the position of executive vice president and managing officer. He later earned a master’s degree in executive management from the University of Indiana and in 1973 became founding president and CEO of the Founders Savings & Loan Association.

Verna Dauterive received her bachelor of science degree from Texas’ Wiley College (home of “the great debaters”) in 1943 and moved to California shortly after graduation. Within months, she landed a teaching job and embarked upon a 62-year career with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In 1985, she and her husband endowed the Dr. Verna B. Dauterive and Peter W. Dauterive Scholarship – the university’s first scholarship for minority doctoral students in education.

In a L.A. Times article, Verna shared about the contribution, "It's going to allow more students to attend 'SC, perhaps provide more diversity at 'SC, and I'm hoping it will encourage African American alumni who have profited from their degrees at 'SC and are doing well in life but have not contributed what they can afford to contribute."

Sources: USC News & LA Times
Photo: USC.edu

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hip Hop Literacy

Conversations Book Club & TRU Publishing are excited to announce the dates for the upcoming "Hiphop & Books" Rallies that will be held throughout the United States.

Hosted by Cyrus A. Webb (in photo at right with hip hop artist David Banner), the events will entertain lovers of hip hop as well as promote the cause of reading across the country. At the end of the day, Conversations & TRU want others to JOIN THE ADDICTION and get hooked on books!

Upcoming dates/cities are:

SATURDAY, APRIL 26, 2008 --- Jackson, MS// WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2008 --- Miami, FL//SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2008 --- Memphis, TN//SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2008 --- New Orleans, LA//SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2008 --- Montgomery, AL//SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2008 ---Atlanta, GA

The rallies will feature recording artists and authors highlighting the importance of reading and staying in school. For additional dates and cities that include Houston, Charlotte and the D.C. area, and for more complete details about the "Hiphop & Books" tour, visit http://www.hiphopandbooks.com/. For more information, contact Robin Gardner at 601.664.8805, Stanley Clark at 601.559.3463 or Stephanie Mitchell at 601.500.8950.


Photobucket

Hip hop artist/author Jackie-O with students at a rally in March 2008.


Hip-hop advocate uses love of music and reading to reach younger generations:

Self-proclaimed hip-hop baby, literacy advocate, writer and author Felicia Pride decided she was tired of riding the train broke while sitting squished between two passengers on an NYC train listening to Tribe Called Quest. It was this incident that prompted her to write her latest project – The Message: 100 Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs. While this project is awesome, what is more impressive is how Pride has used THE MESSAGE as a way to promote literacy.

With assistance from educators, Pride has developed a free educational curriculum, which includes a lesson plan, syllabus and book club discussion guide for teachers…and they are using it with great results. Additionally, she founded BackList, LLC is an organization dedicated to keeping books in style. Visit Felicia on the web at: http://www.feliciapride.com/.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NBA's Amare Stoudemire to Youth: Wake Up and Go To School!

The Ad Council and the U.S. Army joined today to launch a Wake-Up Call program as part of their "Boost"national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage students to graduate from high school. Featuring the voice of Amare Stoudemire, NBA All-Star and Captain of the Phoenix Suns, the program features a series of wake-up calls and alarm ringtones that teens can share with their friends to provide the motivation to get up and go to school.

According to the press release, approximately 7,000 high school students drop out every school day, which translates to one in three students in our country, according to a report released earlier this month by the America's Promise Alliance (Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation).

Research shows that the decision to drop out doesn't happen overnight. Another recent study by Civic Enterprises, The Silent Epidemic, Perspectives of High School Dropouts, found that two-thirds of students who drop out frequently missed class during the year after developing a pattern of sleeping late in the mornings and taking long lunches.

The wake-up call program, featuring Stoudemire's voice, encourages teens to share fun pre-recorded wake-up calls and alarm ringtones with those who need extra motivation in the morning. Additional celebrities and athletes are expected to lend their voices in the coming months.

Stoudemire volunteered to get involved with the campaign as part of his commitment to providing educational opportunities for children and teens throughout the country. Stoudemire is actively involved with giving back to youth in need through his Each 1, Teach 1 Foundation, which revolves around the concept that each person should be given the opportunity to education and aid, while also being responsible to come to the help of peers in need.

"This Boost Up campaign was so innovative that I knew I had to get involved," said Amare Stoudemire. "Because I've dedicated myself to helping youth in need and love using cutting-edge technology, recording ringtones and wake-up calls for kids in danger of dropping out was right up my alley. I had a great time with it, and I look forward to seeing how these messages can help keep the kids in school."

Visit http://www.boostup.org/ to download one of Amare's custom Boost Up alarm ringtones or to schedule a wake up call for you or a friend for school.
On the web: http://www.amarestoudemire.com/

Source and photo: PRN/AD Council

Ron Brown Scholar Program Names 2008 Scholarship Recipients

The Ron Brown Scholar Program, one of the nation's leading scholarship programs for African-American youth, has announced its 2008 class of Scholars. Out of 5,600 applications received this year, only 20 were awarded this honor.

Founded in 1996 and named in honor of Ron Brown, the first African-American Secretary of Commerce, the Ron Brown Scholar Program provides students with the financial resources to attend some of the finest colleges and universities in the country, in addition to promoting outstanding service opportunities for the next generation of promising African-American leaders.

The Program seeks to accelerate their progress into the mainstream of leadership positions in business, education, government and a wide spectrum of professions, while instilling a dedication to leadership and service.

Ron Brown Scholars are selected on the basis of demonstrated academic excellence, leadership potential, social commitment and financial need.

Applicants must proceed through a highly competitive selection process against thousands of other qualified candidates, culminating in an invitation to spend a weekend in Washington, D.C. for the final round of interviews. Up to twenty winners are chosen at the conclusion of this weekend where they are formally introduced as lifelong members of the Ron Brown Scholar Program family.

With a 100% graduation rate, Ron Brown Scholars go on to succeed in a variety of leadership positions. From finance executives and top lawyers, to award-winning playwrights and Supreme Court Justice clerks, they have published books and documentaries, appeared as expert guests on radio and television, and been invited as speakers to numerous international conferences.

For biographical information on the Scholars and for more information about the Ron Brown Scholar Program, visit http://www.ronbrown.org/.

Source: PRN
Photo: Public domain

Nordstrom Annual Scholarship Program Is Underway!

Nordstrom is pleased to announce it is once again accepting applications for the annual Nordstrom Scholarship Program, now in its 14th year. Nordstrom will award $10,000 scholarships to 40 high-school juniors from across the country.

Applicants must demonstrate outstanding community involvement, scholastic achievement and financial need. The scholarships will be paid in equal installments over four years.

The scholarship program is available in the following Nordstrom regions:

Los Angeles, Calif. -- San Diego, Calif. -- Bay Area/Sacramento County, Calif. -- Alaska/Washington -- Northern/Central, New Jersey -- Chicagoland/DuPage County, Illinois -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Washington, D.C./Baltimore & Metro Area

"Every year I'm so inspired by each and every one of our Nordstrom Scholarship recipients," said Amelia Ransom Letcher, Nordstrom Corporate Diversity Affairs. "These students, many of whom face tremendous obstacles, represent the best in academic achievement and community service."

Scholarship applications must be postmarked by May 31, 2008 and are now available in high-school guidance offices within participating regions as well as Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores. Winning students will be selected by a committee of local community leaders and will be honored at an awards ceremony within their community.

For more information students may contact Nordstrom Corporate Scholarship Coordinator, Ellen Greene at (206) 373-4393 or their nearest Nordstrom store.

Source: FirstCall
Photo: Chicagoland

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the News


Bill Cosby Records Rap Album

Well, he doesn't actually rap on the album. The collaboration of hip hop, jazz, pop and guest artists contribute to Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency, which is a companion to his book, Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Cosby said about the album's subject matter: "The value of an education. The value of respecting one's self and ... giving (listeners) a chance to raise their self-esteem and confidence." Read more here.


D. Wade Joins Alonzo Mourning for 12th Annual Zo's Summer Groove

NBA Champion Alonzo "Zo" Mourning announced a new partnership with NBA Champ, Dwyane Wade - a.k.a. D. Wade to co-host Zo's Summer Groove (ZSG), an annual charity event. Now in its 12th year, proceeds from ZSG will benefit Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade's World Foundation. "Dwyane's leadership and personal interest in helping young people develop their goals is aligned with the core of what we do," said Mourning.

ZSG, July 9-13, 2008, is Miami's blockbuster summer event. It has grown over the years to a five-day weekend including golf, comedy, concert, benefit dinner, block party, all-star basketball game and after-parties. For more information, visit http://www.zsg.com/. Source: PRN

Education News: Online Learning Can Help Minority Students


In an article from eSchool News, it highlights how Chicago has used online courses to help meet underserved students' needs and fulfill course requirements. Snippets from the article:

Sharnell Jackson, chief eLearning officer for the Chicago Public Schools, believes that online learning can help with dropout recovery and kids who are currently in juvenile detention centers. She stated, “online can be an alternative to school if either you physically cannot attend school or if a traditional classroom setting does not fit your specific needs. With online learning, a student can finish their high school degree, make up credits, and enrich traditional curriculum.
She also stated, “Minority students need to be encouraged, challenged, and motivated. They’re becoming disenfranchised from education. We need to stimulate them more, and we need to help them meet their needs. Online learning could help meet some of those needs.” Read more here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Photobucket
CEO of Dress for Success Joi Gordon, Janice Combs (Diddy's mama), Debra Kelly-Ennis and Denise Rich arrive at the 2008 Dress for Success Worldwide Gala on April 9, 2008 in New York City.

Photobucket

Laurence Fishburne stars in Broadway's new play Thurgood, based on Thurgood Marshall, who rose from the back streets of Baltimore to the Supreme Court of the United States, overcoming obstacles society placed in his way. THURGOOD is his remarkable story, a triumph of courage -- not just for the man, but for the nation he bravely challenged and proudly served.

For a limited time, tickets for this play are $50! (Regular price is $96.50) Price available for performances April 12 thru June 1 only! Below are two ways to order:
1. ONLINE. Visit here, or visit Broadway Offers and enter code THWCEB8.
2. BY PHONE. Call 212-947-8844 and mention code THWCEB8.
Performance schedule: Tues.-Sat. at 8; Wed. and Sat. at 2, Sun. at 3

Photobucket

Actress Beverly Todd at the 2008 Atlanta Film Festival Opening Night of the "Lena Baker Story," April 10, 2008 in Atlanta, GA. The story is about the life of Lena Baker, an African American, who was the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery.

Photobucket

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's introduce Ben & Jerry's ONE Cheesecake Brownie ice cream to benefit the ONE Campaign on April 7, 2008 in Burbank, California. Since I love ice cream, I will definitely buy this!

Photobucket

Photobucket

NFL Players Shawne Merriman, LaDainian Tomlinson and Ray Lewis at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIV at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa on April 5, 2008 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Spike Lee Honored With Sixth Annual Chrysler Behind the Lens Award:
Photobucket

Chrysler Senior VP-External Affairs and Public Policy W. Frank Fountain awards Honoree Spike Lee at the Chrysler presentation of the 6th Annual Behind the Lens Award on March 26, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. The Chrysler Foundation will donate $25,000 in Lee's name to his alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The donation will benefit the Morehouse College School of Sports Journalism, a program created to expand the field of sports journalism for African-American students. The program, which began with seed money donated by Lee, launched its first course offerings in January 2007. Lee, who received his bachelor's degree in 1979, is a third-generation Morehouse graduate and now serves on the school's board of trustees. To date, his efforts have raised more than $1 million to benefit the program.

Among the 400 celebrities and supporters that came out to congratulate Spike were Hill Harper, casting director Robi Reed, Savion Glover, rapper Chuck D, Soledad O'Brien, and fellow African American directors Bill Duke and John Singleton. Also attending the event was the cast of the new Spike Lee movie, Miracle at St. Anna:

Photobucket

The movie, based on the book by bestselling author James McBride, will be released in the fall of 2008.

Photobucket

I just returned from Houston and folks in Texas are excited for one of their own, Crystle Stewart, who was crowned Miss USA 2008 in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The AP reports that the 26-year old runs a party-planning and motivational speaking company, and says she wants to dedicate her life to international philanthropy.

Photobucket

Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, addresses the crowd during the "Abyssinian 200: A Celebration" premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center, April 10, 2008, in New York.
Photos: Wireimage

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Clothing Designer To The Stars Turns Focus to Kids

Designer to the stars Cary Mitchell, who has designed clothes for some of the biggest names in professional sports, including Tiger Woods, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Emmitt Smith and Ken Griffey, Jr., is turning his time and talent to the community through his Fashion in the Schools program (FITS).

Mitchell’s vision to develop this program was fueled by a childhood diagnosis of dyslexia. He struggled with education, failing the fourth and sixth grades, which decreased his self-esteem. After enrolling in a prestigious private school in his hometown of Richmond, VA, his reading skills improved and so did his self-esteem. His passion for improving the quality of public education for disadvantaged youth and his personal testimony fueled Mitchell to create FITS in 2006.

FITS is administered as an afterschool program for selected students. The four-week program includes a design-based curriculum that introduces students to careers in the design industry (not necessarily fashion design) and allows them to help design unique school uniforms for their school. Program goals include eliminating the competition to have desirable clothing that often distracts students from learning, decreasing the amount of time spent on classroom discipline, and preventing gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school.

The program was first implemented in 2006 at Martin Luther King middle school in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was such a success, that it caught the attention of one of the largest financial institutions in the country – Wachovia Bank, NA. Wachovia made a commitment to helping Mitchell implement the program in other Charlotte schools through a grant from its foundation. With a $25,000 grant in hand from the Wachovia Foundation, support from other companies and individuals (including several clients) came in. Mitchell will implement the program in three other Charlotte middle schools by the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

Mitchell shared, "The grant from the Wachovia Foundation and support of several local businesses, individuals and a few of my clients has made FITS a success in Charlotte. My goal is to take this program to school districts across the country."

For more information, visit http://www.fashionintheschools.com/.

Source and photo: studio b public relations

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Links of Greater New York

Photobucket


The Links, Inc. is a national organization comprised of women who are linked in friendship, committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Founded in 1946, it is one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women. Membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 273 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. The Links Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the organization, which provides grants to support their program areas.

Last month, 900 guests joined The Links of Greater New York to honor Susan L. Taylor, Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine and founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, and Joyce M. Roche, President of Girls, Inc., at their 59th annual Easter luncheon and fashion show at Chelsea Piers Pier Sixty.

Photobucket
Minta Spain, co-chair Evette Beckett-Tuggle, honoree Susan L. Taylor, and co-chair Sydney Avent

Taylor has partnered with The Links in an outreach effort to recruit mentors for African American children through the National Cares Mentoring Movement.

For more pictures from the event, visit NYSD here.
Also check out Black Glitterati for society happenings in NY and NJ.
On the web: http://www.linksinc.org/
Related Post: Susan L. Taylor: Mentoring's Newest Advocate
Photos: NYSD

R&B Superstar Ne-Yo To Honor Foster Mothers on Mother's Day

Grammy award winning Def Jam recording artist and writer Ne-Yo and his Compound Foundation announced plans last week to host a Mother's Day Brunch Serenade to honor 50 metro Atlanta foster and single mothers. The event is being held to encourage, celebrate and reward these mothers for the all that they do each and everyday. The special brunch will be held on Sunday, May 11th, 2008 at the Loft at Castleberry Hill from 2pm to 5pm.

Ne-Yo shared, "We hope to bring attention to the state of the foster care system in America and to honor mothers that deserve recognition."

Launched in early 2007, The Compound Foundation, with Ne-Yo at the helm, is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization established to create a productive and stable environment for at-risk and displaced youth in the group home context. The foundation's mission is to increase awareness about the status of children in the child welfare system in America and to support and partner with residential care facilities through programs aimed at teaching entrepreneurship and life skills that will empower them to become productive, successful, independent adults. Ne-Yo's Compound Foundation is part of the Compound Entertainment music label formed in partnership between Ne-Yo and business partner Reynell Hay, who stated about the event, "We want them to know we care and that we recognize their efforts."

This is an invitation only event for foster mothers who have been identified by DHR to have a positive record of service to children in Georgia, single mothers who are V-103 radio contest winners, and guests of the Compound Foundation.

Each guest will be pinned with a floral corsage and seated for the brunch and a very special surprise performance. Simultaneously, in three separate rooms, licensed and experienced child care workers will provide high quality children's activities for children ranging in age from 1 – 10 years old.

For more information about the event, sponsorship opportunities or to schedule media interviews, please contact Barry Florence, BDC World PR at 202.365.5401 or bflorence1@verizon.net.

Source: Compound Entertainment

Monday, April 7, 2008

50 Million Pound Challenge Celebrates One Year


Not only is Dr. Ian Smith helping celebrities lose weight and get fit on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, he's helping black America shed pounds.

Dr. Ian's 50 Million Pound Challenge was launched one year ago today, April 7, 2007 in Washington, D.C. In November, the Challenge announced that over 250,000 people joined the cause, losing one million pounds. One year later, the challenge has inspired almost a half a million people to team up to take control of their health, take off close to two million pounds and fight the epidemic of excess weight taking so many lives, especially among African Americans.

This past year, celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Michael Strahan and Steve Harvey joined Smith for a 14-city kickoff tour and has resonated across America with its rallying cry ‘Give up the pounds, not the fight.’

Today, Dr. Ian will be at NYC’s Apollo Theater to begin a month-long anniversary celebration. The Challenge is celebrating its first-year milestone by taking its message to grassroots America, and marking April as “50 Million Pound Challenge Month.” The initiative is partnering with churches, colleges and civic organizations across the nation to mobilize more members and sustain its drive to reach its ambitious 50 million pound goal.

"We’ve had a great first year, and The Challenge has just begun. It’s imperative we inspire more people to join and reach their personal health goals, and collectively help us achieve our 50 million pound goal," Dr. Ian said. "Too many people are dying from preventable weight-related illnesses. We’re facing an epidemic that affects all Americans, especially the African-American community, where lives are being cut five years shorter than the US average."

Anyone can join the growing Challenge online community at http://www.50millionpounds.com/, where participants can find free tips, tools, a personal weight tracker and start or join Challenge teams to support their quest to lead healthier, longer lives.

Source: Press release, BPRW
Photo: Wireimage

Sunday, April 6, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Photobucket
 Actor and activist Kerry Washington and Grammy winner/songwriter John Legend joined arts supporters from across the US for Arts Advocacy Day in Congress on April 1, 2008. This was Kerry's second time addressing the subcommittee urging lawmakers to increase federal arts funding.

During her testimony, Kerry stated something that is critical - that arts programs can help youth succeed in school academically. She stated, "without getting too specific about what the root causes are, art has gone absent from the classroom for far too many students. The skills acquired in arts training may lead to productive careers in art, but are really a piece of the academic development jigsaw puzzle."

Russell Simmons along with his brother Danny Simmons know the importance of youth arts programs. They hosted Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Arts for Life Miami on April 5, 2008 to celebrate and support youth arts organizations.

Photobucket
Real estate developer R. Donahue Peebles, Tangie Murray and Danny Simmons participate in an art auction at the event, which honored Peebles, John Legend and financial expert Suze Orman.

Photobucket
Director Brett Ratner, Wyclef Jean and Russell Simmons

Photobucket
Russell Simmons with Miami Heat player and philanthropist Alonzo Mourning

Danny Simmons, co-founder of Rush Philanthropic shared, "I particularly like when Rush partners with organizations outside the New York City area. Kids are kids wherever you go and the need to have the creative arts as part of their lives is essential. Events like the one in Miami only confirm my commitment to expand Rush into a national organization."

Photobucket
Old School Hip Hop: Rap group De La Soul visits MTV's Yo! Sucker Free on April 2, 2008 in NYC.

Photobucket
Legendary photojournalist Bob Adelman, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Civil Rights Struggle, stands in front of a photograph he took of Martin Luther King at Westwood Gallery, April 4, 2008 in NYC.

Photobucket
Whitney Houston honors boxing great Muhammad Ali at his Celebrity Fight Night, April 5, 2008 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This annual event has raised over $45 million for various charities, with the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute as the primary beneficiary.

Photos: Wireimage

Friday, April 4, 2008

40 Years Later....Still Chasing the Dream

Photobucket

Forty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he traveled to support the sanitation workers strike. As news of his death spread, riots broke out in Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and in over 100 other cities across the country. Some who lived through this frightening time say this country has not been the same since. Ruth Stewart, who at the time of the riots was a young mother, shared in a Baltimore Sun article, "When they killed MLK, that did it," she says. "The peace just went. He was for nonviolence, but they brought out the violence in us."

Today, the news is unsettling: Reports show that half of America’s black and Hispanic students don’t finish high school, students in Chicago fear going to school at the risk of being killed, and 3rd graders plot to attack their teacher. Even my alma mater, once regarded as the premier high school in Washington, D.C. is on lockdown.

In the words of the Marvin Gaye classic, what’s going on? As I stated in a previous post, Martin Luther King would not be pleased with the state of the black community today. And it seems like every year on his holiday and the anniversary of his death, people want to revisit what he stood for and died for. Well I’m here to tell you that amidst the parades and recognitions, America needs to fight for his dream everyday, not just two times a year. Here’s what you can do:

1. Is there a drop out crisis in your community? Find out here. If there is, take steps with your community to address this problem. Start by joining the 15 by 5 Campaign Network of America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Colin and Alma Powell, to become part of a national network with others working to combat this crisis.

Other related website: ED in '08

2. Mentor a youth. If you have your own family and don’t have the time, how about inviting a youth on a family outing with you who doesn’t have a father figure? Summer is approaching – sponsor a child at a camp, to take music lessons or any fun and enriching activity.

Essence Cares
National Mentoring Partnership

I can’t stress enough how important mentoring is. Our youth are having it tough in the nation’s urban public school systems and they need caring, committed adults (parents can’t do it all!) outside of school to help them succeed in life.

3. Are you a business owner? Hire a youth for an internship or after school employment. Not only will they learn valuable work skills, but you’ll be keeping them off the streets - especially during the times when juvenile crime is highest, from 3-6 pm.

Just three to get you started. Have additional ideas on how people can get involved? Leave a comment!

There are many events being held across the country to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s homegoing. Last month, Kevin Liles and friends celebrated the legacy of the great civil rights leader in New York:

Photobucket

Stephen Hill, Kevin Liles, Andre Harrell, Al Sharpton and Debra Lee celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King at a private residence on March 19, 2008.

In London, Martin Luther King, III attended a launch honoring his father at The Royal Festival Hall on April 1, 2008:

Photobucket

On the Web:
Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King National Memorial Foundation
Build the Dream Blog

On Television:

'The Night James Brown Saved Boston' Premiering On VH1 And VH1 Classic On Saturday, April 5 at 9:00 PM EST. As other cities were going up in flames after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Boston feared it would be next. This documentary highlights how a James Brown concert saved Boston and brought together a city.

Photos: Public domain, wireimage