Saturday, November 29, 2008

::Event: 2nd Annual Zone 4 Inc. Give Thanks Carnival::

On November 25, 2008, Zone 4 Inc., a record label founded by music hitmaker Polow Da Don, (in photo above on right) held its 2nd annual Zone 4 Give Thanks Carnival in Atlanta. The carnival distributed turkeys and registered Southwest Atlanta residents to have their rent/mortgage paid for one year. Polow's musical roster of artists including Rich Boy, i15, Greg Street, Vistos Bosses and more, helped to distribute over 600 turkeys.

In the photo above is singer/songwriter and Zone 4 artist Keri Hilson, who also participated in this charitable event. Polow has produced many of today's top musical artists, such as Usher, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, Diddy and the Pussycat Dolls. He has been honored in his hometown of Atlanta for his constant contributions to the community.

Coming up this week: The Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2008!

Photos courtesy of Garner Circle PR

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Model Chanel Iman, actress Nia Long and former Spice Girls singer Mel B distribute turkeys to residents in South Central LA, November 24, 2008.

Photo: Bezjian/Wireimage

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Black AIDS Institute Presents the 8th Annual Heroes In The Struggle Gala

A bi-coastal celebration Honoring Leading Black Women in the Fight against HIV/AIDS December 1st in New York City and February 4th in Los Angeles

The Black AIDS Institute, a leading organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in Black communities is hosting its 8th Annual Heroes in the Struggle Gala Reception and Awards Presentation. In recognition of the recent opening of the Institute’s New York offices, this year’s event will be bi-coastal and open with a special performance by award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. In line with this year’s theme, Black Men Honoring Black Women in the Struggle, each of this year’s honorees are pioneering women who have demonstrated incredible commitments to ending the AIDS pandemic in Black communities.

The first of the two celebrations will be held on December 1st, World AIDS Day, in New York City at The Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hosted by AJ Calloway, EXTRA TV’s Entertainment Correspondent, the New York event will honor the work of Dr. Marjorie Hill (CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center), Bev Smith (Host of the Bev Smith Show), the Honorable Barbara Lee (U.S. House of Representatives), Sonya Lockett (Vice President of Public Affairs, BET Networks), Andrea Williams (AIDS Activist) and will include a special posthumous tribute to New York City Councilman and AIDS Activist, Philip Reed. In addition to honoring nine extraordinary women, the Black AIDS Institute will also honor the M.A.C AIDS FUND as this year’s Corporate Hero with a special presentation by Vogue Editor at Large, Andre Leon Talley.

The annual event unveils the year’s inductees into the Heroes in the Struggle traveling photo exhibit that honors Black people who have made outstanding contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and raises desperately needed funds to fight HIV/AIDS in Black communities.

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study confirming our worst fears: the American epidemic is at least 40% worse than previously believed. This sad news serves only to dramatically underscore the point the Black AIDS Institute has been making for years.

WHEN: World AIDS DAY, Monday, December 1, 2008
6:30pm--VIP Reception, Special Performance by Oscar-nominated choir Impact
7:30pm – Awards Presentation, Special Performances

WHERE: The Allen Room, Fredrick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street, New York City

WHO: Actor Danny Glover, BET Network’s CEO Debra Lee, Power 105FM radio personality Ed Lover, Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart, Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, Actress Gloria Reuben, Actor Hill Harper, Actress Vanessa Williams, New York Knicks forward Malik Rose, BET correspondent Jeff Johnson, Brenda Braxton from Broadway revival Chicago, President and Urban League CEO Marc Morial, and Actor NaShawn Kearse. Special performances by Sheryl Lee Ralph, Platinum selling R&B artist Case, the Oscar-nominated Impact Repertory Theater and Evidence Dance Company.

Los Angeles Event: In commemoration of National Black AIDS Awareness Month, the Los Angeles event will be held on February 4, 2009, 6 to 9 pm, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Actor/activist Hill Harper will lead the celebration to honor the following Heroes: Sandra J. Evers-Manly (President of the Northrop Grumman Foundation), Dr. Kimberly Yvette Smith (HIV/AIDS Researcher, Rush University Medical Center), Cookie Johnson (Philanthropist) and Gloria Ruben (Award-Winning Actress, ER, Raising the Bar).

For more information about Heroes in the Struggle or the Black AIDS Institute, log onto

For event and ticket information, contact Michelle Huff, HUFF Events & PR, , 212.239.1732.

Photos of the Day

Hal Jackson (second from right) of Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International Scholarship Competition is honored at the Apollo Theater, November 6, 2008 in NYC.

Poet Maya Angelou signs copies of her book, Maya Angelou: Letter to My Daughter, at Barnes & Noble Book Store in New York City, October 30, 2008

Susan L. Taylor, of the National Cares Mentoring Movement with DJ Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock, at the 3rd Annual Black Girls Rock Awards, November 2, 2008 in NYC. Black Girls Rock seeks to empower young women of color through the arts.

Russell Simmons and Liya Kebede attend the Diamond Empowerment Fund's Diamonds Give 2008 Greenhouse New York Fundraising Event, November 19, 2008 in New York City.

Singer Etta James and singer-actress Beyonce Knowles (who portrays James in the film) arrive on the red carpet of the Los Angeles Premiere of "Cadillac Records" at The Egyptian Theater, November 24, 2008 in Hollywood, California.

David Bowie and Iman inside Keep A Child Alive's 5th annual Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom, November 13, 2008 in New York City.

Eric Snow (NBA player) and DeShawn Snow (Real Housewives of Atlanta) with guest (right) at the pre-launch party for the new denim brand, Billion Dollar Britches. The event was held November 7, 2008 at the Snow's residence in Atlanta, with partial proceeds benefiting the DeShawn Snow Foundation. Photo: Jimi Flixx
All other photos: Wireimage

Monday, November 24, 2008

U.S. Dream Academy Receives $2 Million Dollar Grant to Expand Afterschool Mentoring and Technology Programs

U.S. Dream Academy Announces Major Expansion of After-School Mentoring and Technology Training Programs for At-Risk Youth in Baltimore, East Orange, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Washington, DC

Via press release: The U.S. Dream Academy, a nationally-recognized after-school education and mentoring program which currently serves more than 800 high-risk students in 11 learning centers in 10 cities, today announced it will more than double its size by adding 15 new centers over the next five years. Founded by world-renowned vocal artist and education activist Wintley Phipps, the U.S. Dream Academy is dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration that affects society's most vulnerable children and youth.

Working to give children in grades 3 through 8 the skills and vision they need to lead productive and fulfilling lives, the Academy focuses on three elements of youth development which underpin its program philosophy: skills building, character building and dream building.

Since 1998, the U.S. Dream Academy has served more than 2,500 students in some of the highest risk neighborhoods where crime, high incarceration rates, generational poverty, and failing schools are pervasive. Over the past two years, the U.S. Dream Academy has significantly increased its capacity and now serves 820 children at its learning centers in Baltimore, East Orange (NJ), Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and two in Washington, DC.

The U.S. Dream Academy's five-year plan to expand the availability of its integrated after-school youth programs will be made possible in part by a $2 million grant by The Atlantic Philanthropies that was announced today. The grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies comes on top of $900,000 in individual and corporate contributions raised earlier this year at the U.S. Dream Academy's 10-year anniversary gala. In addition, Oprah Winfrey made a $900,000 matching gift, and she has pledged to match up to $500,000 in additional individual contributions to the U.S. Dream Academy through the end of 2008.

"All children deserve and desire a chance to succeed," said Phipps, the organization's President and CEO. "We have to do all we can to help guarantee that children of prisoners and at-risk youth have a brighter future. Eliminating barriers to a good education is the first essential step in helping a child to succeed."

Phipps emphasized the urgent need for increased early intervention to save children because: One of every 3 ninth graders in the U.S. drops out of school, high school drop-outs are 8 times more likely to end up in jail or prison than a high school graduate, 80 percent of the inmate population is composed of high school dropouts, and more than two-thirds of the juveniles in the criminal justice system are children of prisoners or children with a family member in prison.

For more information about the U.S. Dream Academy, visit the website at or call 1-800-USDREAM.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coming to D.C. for Inauguration?


Millions of people are expected to descend on the Washington, D.C. area to be a part of history – the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and I have never seen the city so excited! It is truly a once in a lifetime event in our nation’s history. There will be many inaugural events and balls – both official and unofficial – so there will be plenty to do! But first, you need to get here.

Some of you are probably lucky enough to stay with family or friends, but for those of you needing a hotel, there are still rooms available. However, many are requiring a 4-night minimum with payment upfront. (And they’re not cheap!) wants to help get you and your family here and they’re offering packages at hotels in the surrounding DC area. The Black History Tours/Open Your Eyes Foundation is dedicated to educating America's youth about black history. Go to the website here for more information.

Once you’re here, you’ll have your pick of events to attend! BET will host the BET Honors Awards that weekend – however, getting tickets to that event I unfortunately can’t help you with. But you can purchase your tickets now for A Concert of Change! This concert commemorates President-elect Barack Obama with famous gospel artist John P. Kee headlining, along with others such as Regina Belle, Al Sharpton, Men of Standard, Hezekiah Walker, Kim Burrell, Ami Rushes, Maranda Curtis, Angelo and Veronica on January 17, 2009 at Constitution Hall. Tickets are $35, available now at Ticketmaster (

Sights to See: Be sure to visit the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery at 8th and F Streets, NW, to view James Hampton’s Throne of the Third Heaven, which I highlighted here. Other sights include the African American Civil War Memorial museum on the historic U Street corridor, 1200 U Street, NW. Visit the website here for exhibit information and hours. After you’re finished there, you can walk across the street to Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1213 U Street to eat a world famous chili hot dog. MmmMmm!

Other Places to Eat: A hot spot that is guaranteed to have the movers and shakers during inauguration weekend is Georgia Brown’s, an award winning restaurant specializing in southern cuisine located at 950 15th Street, NW. My fave is the Crispy Chicken Livers. The last time I was there, I saw Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Reserve early.

How to Get Around: THE METRO IS YOUR FRIEND. Please don’t try to drive. If you’re staying at a hotel in the suburbs, there is probably a metrorail stop nearby. Tip: Purchase your bus/rail passes early! If you have family and friends here, ask them to buy it for you before you arrive. I’m sure the lines will be long to purchase passes that weekend! (And trust, you don’t want to be standing in line to purchase a pass.) Available in early January will be the SmarTrip commemorative card with a picture of Barack Obama. A limited number will be issued:

Visit the special inauguration Metro website here for up to date information. See you in January!

Friday, November 21, 2008

NYC World Children's Day Event A Success Through Cookies, Crafts and Conversation With Tamia

This month, participating McDonald's restaurants across the United States will celebrate World Children's Day at McDonald's, an annual program since 2002 that raises funds and awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and other children's causes. In addition, Celebrity Friends of RMHC are also showing their support through a series of special events and a new public service announcement.

On November 20th, Grammy nominated singer Tamia Hill participated in World Children’s Day ® at the Ronald McDonald House of New York. Along with Tamia included actress and philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete, and Ronald McDonald House Charities Board Chairman, Linda Dunham, with members of Mocha Moms, a support group for stay-at-home mothers of color. The Ronald McDonald House of New York is a facility that offers temporary housing to children undergoing treatment for pediatric cancer and their families.

Holly Robinson Peete; Linda Dunham, Global Chair of Ronald McDonald House Charities and Tamia Hill
For two hours, Hill, Robinson Peete, Dunham and the Mocha Moms participated in service activities that included baking cookies and decorating to prepare the house for the holidays. The service day concluded with a lively, celebratory performance by Tamia and the McDonald’s Junior Gospel Choir.

Source: CSRWire and Burrell Communications

Event: Jarvis Green Foundation's 2nd Annual Wine Tasting Gala

On Saturday, November 15th, New England Patriots player Jarvis Green held his foundation's 2nd Annual Wine Tasting Gala in Seekonk, MA. The event's proceeds benefited single parents burdened by hurricane Katrina. In the photo above is New England defensive coach and former NY Giants player Pepper Johnson (left) with Jarvis Green.

A Louisiana native, Green was deeply touched by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused. He has since committed himself to helping the victims, especially single mothers, get their lives back on track and remain in the hearts and minds of others who may be able to help. In photo: NE Patriots player Kevin Faulk, Jason Green, NE Patriots player Ben Jarvis and guest

The Green Family: Jason Green, Jarvis Green and his wife Rakia, Shannon Green

Photos by Spectrum Photography

Zone 4 Inc. & Polow Da Don Present 2nd Annual 'Give Thanks' Carnival

Via Garner Circle PR: As 2008 comes to an end, Zone 4, Inc. has had the pleasure of sharing in phenomenal success for their roster of artists. From Keri Hilson's breakaway career, to Polow's major endorsement with Wrigley's Gum and more - Zone 4, Inc. has reigned supreme in today's music industry. Following the great philosophy of "to whom much is given, much is required," Zone 4 will continue with their tradition of digging deep within their pockets and making Thanksgiving a happy time for the South West Atlanta community.

WHO: Zone 4, Inc & Polow Da Don
WHAT: 2nd annual "Give Thanks" Carnival - a carnival style event for the family, featuring food, games, and entertainment
WHERE: Atlanta's Figure 8 - 3131 Campbellton Rd.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 25th from 5:00p - 8:00p
WHY: Zone 4 goes back to the community and spreads giving thanks to where it all began for them
Highlights: Turkey giveaways and registration on how to win the "Free Rent/Mortgage" contest with a live broadcast from V- 103' Greg Street and performances by Keri Hilson, Rich Boy and i15

Event Contact: Zone 4 Inc, Mia Welsh,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ballou HS Senior Grabs National Honor

Ballou High School located in Southeast, Washington, D.C., has had its share of good times and bad times. During the bad times, the school experienced a mercury outbreak that closed it down for weeks, and a student was shot and killed by a fellow student on campus. Morale was low during those times.

But then there are good times too, such as Ballou alum and Brown University graduate Cedric Jennings, whose life was profiled in the 1998 book, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League. Then there’s the school’s highly acclaimed marching band, who appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show in 2007 and was the subject of a documentary. Now, Ballou has another success story:

Larry Pickard, a wide receiver and defensive back for the Ballou football team, has been named the October National Student-Athlete of the Month for the Play It Smart Program, the NFL’s highly successful mentoring program targeted at student athletes in underserved communities.

An honor roll student since the ninth grade and a member of the national honor society at Ballou, Pickard was selected from more than 10,000 program participants nationally. Albert Munson and Sandra Vigil, the academic coaches at Ballou Senior High School, nominated him for the award based on his performance in the classroom, on the field and in the community.

"He's maintained excellent grades since his freshman year and has always been more confident about his academic ability than his athletic ability," said Academic Coach Albert Munson.

This season Pickard's confidence on the field has shown dramatic improvement. The junior is currently ranked among the league leaders in Washington D.C. in both receptions and receiving yards. Pickard also leads the Ballou Knights in receptions and has caught touchdown passes in each of his last three games.

"Larry's growth on the field, combined with his academic abilities and dedication to his community will translate into many successes for him in life," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "We look forward to following his career on and off the field."

In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Pickard has maintained a 3.5 GPA or better for the last two years, and he has stepped forward to motivate his teammates to improve academically as well.

"He's not one to look down on others because he has a better GPA, instead he leads by example and remains humble in the midst of all the recognition for his achievements," said Vigil.

Pickard has been an active leader in numerous community service events, including 4th and Life, an interactive event with Washington Redskins players who address different life skills topics, the Boys and Girls Club reading program, Thanksgiving Harvest and Christmas Helping.

"Play It Smart has shown me how to be a leader and that I am capable of doing much more with my life," said Pickard. "I've learned to work with others, communicate better, and feed off my teammates positive energy and they feed off mine as well."

Each month the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame honors one student-athlete as the Play It Smart Student-Athlete of the Month. Winners are selected from nominations received by academic coaches from the more than 160 schools in 33 states. At the end of the school year the "Student- Athlete of the Year" will be selected from the monthly winners to be honored at the annual Play It Smart National Conference.

Congratulations Larry! See related post on the Play It Smart Program here.

Related Website:

Source: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

St. Louis Rams Player Chris Draft Presents A Tribute to St. Louis

The Counting Our Blessings Gala will feature St. Louis Rams players Celebrating Positive Work in the Community

From Chris Draft: “As a football player for over 10 years, I have spent time on several team rosters across the NFL. In the spirit of making wherever I am my home, I work to put down roots in the community. I created the Chris Draft Family Foundation in 2006 so that I could support programs across the country that foster partnerships of individuals, communities and corporations, working together for positive social and community change.

The Chris Draft Family Foundation’s Counting Our Blessings Gala is my personal tribute to St. Louis, and will commemorate positive work in the community and celebrate the blessings and support we seek for the work yet to be done.

Join me in working to make St. Louis better – because when we become a team, we really make a difference. Let’s come together in celebrating our strengths and to kick off the holiday season on November 24.”

WHAT: Chris Draft and the Chris Draft Family Foundation present the Counting Our Blessings Gala, sponsored by the St. Louis Rams

WHO: Chris Draft and Rams players including Steven Jackson, Donnie Avery, Josh Brown, OJ Atogwe, Donnie Jones, Jon Wade, Rob Bartell, Jason Craft, Sam Gado, Nick Leckey, Jacob Bell, Brett Romberg, Clifton Ryan & more. Also Coach Jim Haslett and Rams alumni Roland Williams and DeMarco Farr

WHEN: Monday, November 24, 2008. 6:00pm – 9:00pm; Pre-event Reception from 6:00pm-7:00pm

WHERE: Windows Off Washington, 701 N. 15th Street, Tenth Floor, St. Louis

Limited tickets are available at $175 per person. Attire: Cocktail. Proceeds benefit the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s mission of empowering families to live healthy lifestyles. To purchase tickets, or for more information about the Chris Draft Family Foundation, please visit

The elegant evening will feature live entertainment from Oscar Polk with the HBS Band, featuring guest vocalist Taja Sevelle, Hors d’oeuvres, Cocktails, Silent Auction and a Raffle. Guests are asked to bring one new children’s book to donate to the Chris Draft Family Foundation's “How About a Book?” holiday program. Books may be purchased at the Gala from representatives of Borders Books.

During the Gala, the Foundation will present Lee Jackson, from St. Louis Public School District’s Beaumont High School, with the C.H.P.R.S (pronounced “CHIPPERS”) Award in recognition of service to community and high standards of character, particularly the qualities of compassion, courage, honesty, perseverance, respect, responsibility, and self-discipline.

About Chris Draft: Chris has been recognized by the NFL and community agencies for work in St. Louis and across the country. In January 2008, he received the NFL Alumni Spirit Award at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, presented annually to “an individual who has shown a commitment to community service” that is consistent with the NFL Alumni mission of Caring for Kids.

About the Chris Draft Family Foundation: The Foundation seeks to harness the power of sports philanthropy to uplift and empower communities, discover new resources for social good, and positive change in the community. The Foundation focuses on seven primary initiatives with overarching themes that stress the importance of education, healthy lifestyles, character development, personal responsibility, self-discipline and physical fitness.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Artist Profile: Nina Chanel Abney

In the November arts issue of ‘W’ magazine, I read an article that highlighted Nina Chanel Abney, a 26-year old African American artist and graduate of Parsons The New School of Design. The Chicago native was the youngest in her class and had never even stepped foot in a gallery before. Her senior thesis was titled ‘Class of 2007’ in which she “portrayed her classmates with black skin and sporting orange jumpsuits, and herself, the only African American in the group, with white skin, wearing a prison guard uniform.”

The article states that the day after she unveiled the piece, the Kravets/Wehby Gallery in Manhattan asked her to join, where they later featured her first solo show ‘Dirty Wash’ last spring. At the showing, her senior thesis painting caught the eye of major art collectors Donald and Mera Rubell, who flew in from New York to view her collection. They bought it on the spot, and Abney’s collection sold out within days.

Abney’s work is vivid. The article describes two of her other paintings - the aftermath of a murder at a casino and Condoleezza Rice posing in a bikini. Abney says about her paintings, “I definitely have a story in my head, but I like to leave that to the viewer to figure it out.”

View photographs from Abney’s ‘Dirty Wash’ collection here, and read the article and view a video of Abney painting here.

Abney’s work will be shown in the upcoming exhibit, ’30 Americans’ at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, December 3, 2008 to May 30, 2009. The exhibit will highlight the work of African American artists and will open during Art Basel Miami 2008, the most important art show in the U.S. Location: 95 NW 29th Street, Miami. Website:
Photo: W Magazine

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Franklin D. Watkins Award Honors Top African American Scholar Athletes

The National Alliance of African American Athletes (The Alliance) will present its 18th Annual Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award at a Black Tie Gala February 21, 2009 at the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles. The Watkins Award has been the most prestigious award given to top African American male high school scholar athletes in the country since 1992.

The finalists for the award, known as the “Elite Five” will fly to Los Angeles for Watkins Award weekend activities. Watkins Award alumni attend numerous major colleges and 12 are active in the NFL during this 2008 season.

Finalists are chosen based on their unweighted grade point average, their personal statements, extra curricular activities, community service, and letters of recommendation. Each “Elite Five” winner will receive an award, a ring, and a dinner in his hometown.

The Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Trophy Award was initiated in 1992 to promote academic excellence among young African-American males and is named after Franklin D. Watkins, the coach of championship football and basketball teams in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The award is a means for recognizing exceptionally talented African-American male athletes who, by their example, help promote high academic standards and a commitment to community service.

Watkins Trophy Award finalists are expected to be leaders in efforts to empower and improve disadvantaged communities. It brings young men face to face with the reality that through sports, they have an opportunity and an obligation to do more for their communities.

The 'Elite Five' for 2008 are:

Matthew Daniels of Fayette County High School , Atlanta, Georgia
Covaughn DeBoskie of Hamilton High School, Chandler, Arizona
Brandon Moore of Trotwood High School, Trotwood, Ohio
Kenneth Page of Flora High School, Columbia, South Carolina
DeVier Posey of LaSalle High School, Cincinnati, Ohio


On December 4, 2008, Deloitte will host the Pre-Gala Reception/Mixer from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. The reception will be at Deloitte, 350 South Grand, 18th Floor in downtown Los Angeles, California.

The Pre-Gala Reception/Mixer will be attended by numerous local celebrities, sports industry leaders, business leaders and community activists. Watkins Award Alumni will be in attendance including Chris Lewis (former member of the Arizona Cardinals, Stanford and Long Beach Poly High School), J.R. Lemon (Actor and former Oakland Raider), and other Watkins Alumni. Athletes Advisory Chairman John Salley, Model/Actress Claudia Jordan, Comedian “Lazee” Lamont King and others, will be on hand to launch the drive toward the 2009 Watkins Award Event.

The 2007 Elite Five finalists with actress Claudia Jordan

This is the perfect opportunity to support the Watkins Award, and mix and mingle with sports and business leaders. Donations are $20.00 with RSVP and $40.00 at the door.

The National Alliance of African American Athletes was founded in 1989. The mission of The Alliance is to empower African American males through athletics, education and public programs.

Read more about the 2008 Watkins Award finalists here.

For more information about The Alliance, the Watkins Award, or to attend the events, visit the website at or email

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jarvis Green Foundation to Host 2nd Annual Wine Tasting Gala

Proceeds will benefit single mothers burdened by Hurricane Katrina

On November 15, 2008, 7 pm, New England Patriot's Jarvis Green will host the 2nd annual Jarvis Green Foundation Wine Tasting Gala at Johnson & Wales Inn in Seekonk, MA. The foundation promises the evening to be an unforgettable event, "filled with fine friends, fine hors d' oeuvres and of course, fine wine".

This event is dedicated to helping others and allowing participants to walk away with a feeling of goodness. Jarvis Green has made it his goal to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina (i.e, Montel Williams Show) and will be joined by some of his Patriots teammates (i.e., Adalius Thomas, Jabar Gaffney, Stephen Neal, Eric Alexander, Ray Ventrone, James Sanders, Logan Mankins, David Thomas, Deltha O'Neal, Jonathan Wilhite, Gary Guyton, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk,Vince Wolfork, Mike Vrabel, and Tedy Bruschi) and other local celebrities in hosting this fundraising event with event sponsors, Chris Gasbarro's Fine Wine & Spirits, Rosciti, Dunkin' Donuts, NBC 10, ECC Style and Upscale Living Magazine.

In addition to the culinary brilliance of the chefs at Johnson & Wales, guests will be able to enjoy live performances by Ameranouche. The activities will include a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and other rare auction items, such as a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a chance to receive a private dinner with Jarvis and other one on one opportunities with other players.

Tickets can be purchased at

The Book Bank Foundation Presents the 5th Annual Hero Awards

The Book Bank Foundation, an inner-city children’s charity founded by celebrity sports agent and philanthropist Glenn Toby (at left), will honor neurologist Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin and 21-year old child welfare reform advocate Jamel Robinson at the 5th Annual BBF Hero Awards on Sunday, December 7th, 2008 in New York City. Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin will receive the Vanguard award for his exemplary leadership and achievements within the medical community and Robinson will be presented with the Hero award for his courageous efforts to improve outcomes for children in the New York City foster care system.

Originally from Trinidad, Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin immigrated to Brooklyn at the age of 5. The oldest of eight children, he was raised in a poor single parent home by his mother, a public health nurse. As a young child, his eyes were badly crossed. At nine years old, he went through a series of rigorous eye surgeries, leading him to his vocation of "helping people like the doctors that helped him." In 1972, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed medical school at SUNY Downstate. After his residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital, Dr. St. Martin opened his own medical practice in Forest Hills, Queens in 1984. He credits his childhood mentors, the nuns at St. Barbara's Elementary School, for giving him the foundation to excel in his studies. "Once you can read you can achieve anything," says St. Martin. As an attributed neurologist who has helped hundreds of people nationwide, he is also an active member of The Book Bank Foundation.

Jamel Robinson (in photo below) was born in 1987 to a drug addicted mother. Two months later, he was placed in foster care, where he remains to this day. With both drugs and alcohol in his system at birth, Jamel was diagnosed with a series of physical and psychological ailments including: Failure to Thrive, Mild Cerebral Palsy, Quadriplegia, A.D.H.D and other learning disabilities. Within the foster care system, he was subject to neglect and sexual abuse. In 2001, he dropped out of high school and by 2005, he was incarcerated.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, Jamel has become a voice for youth in the foster care system holding NYC's child welfare system accountable to the success and failures of all children in its care. He has served as a keynote speaker at colleges, foundations, community organizations, youth forums and community meetings. "It is my undying, unwavering overall commitment to improve the outcome and quality of life for NYC's most disenfranchised youth and my peers in our city's foster care system," says Jamel. He is currently completing his studies at the City College of New York, in hopes of becoming an attorney.

Like the honorees, Glenn Toby also had his share of difficulties early in life. He frequently travels the country to share his rise from homelessness to representing well known athletes and entertainers. He shares, "Jamel is evidence that our youth play a significant role in the enrichment of our community. For a young man raised in the foster care system to become such a great voice for the abused and underprivileged within the same system, not only is heroic but an ultimate act of selfless service to society." Mr. Toby continued, "Dr. St. Martin is one of the most prominent neurologists in our community who has given so freely and quietly that it often appears as if it does not happen at all. I can't count how many times he has given free medical care to New Yorkers in need."

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception followed by the awards ceremony. The event is open to the public with a $20 donation. Proceeds will go towards The Book Bank Foundation's "Shelter From The Streets" campaign. The event will be held at Fashion 40, 202 West 40th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue) at 4 pm.

About The Book Bank Foundation

The Book Bank Foundation was founded by in 1997, in an effort to boost literacy among the nation's youth with an emphasis on inner city children. With its corporate office in New York City, the foundation provides tutoring, alternative education, career development and special projects to thousands of children in New York City improving the quality of education and life of many families city wide. The Book Bank Foundation has donated over 450,000 hours of community service over the last 10 years and has distributed an average of $140,133 of donations to the less fortunate per year. For more information please visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free to Be Me: The Social Butterflies Mentoring Program

You've probably heard of the achievement gap, which describes the academic gap between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. But did you know that there is a mentoring gap? states that 14.6 million youth need mentors in the United States - that's roughly 50% of all youth. Research has shown that youth who are mentored have better attendance in school and are more likely to graduate.

Mentoring programs that are gender specific, serving girls or boys only, are gaining in popularity. One such program is the Social Butterflies Mentoring Program, that provides after school activities for at risk and low income girls. The program helps girls to build self-esteem and to complete their education by receiving mentoring from business leaders. In the photo above is Erika Dates (left), President, and Lakeacha Jett (right) , Vice President of Social Butterflies Youth Services.

Want to start a mentoring program or enhance your current one? Social Butterflies has created the Free to Be Me curriculum, which is a complete guide to leading any girls mentoring program.

BlackGivesBack interviewed LaKeacha Jett about their organization and how they got started. Read on to find out how your school or organization can implement their Free to Be Me curriculum in your program:

When was Social Butterflies created and who are its founders?

Social Butterflies started in 2003 in Baltimore City at Arlington Elementary School. Erika Dates and I began meeting with a group of fourth and fifth grade girls weekly. During the meetings, we discussed self-esteem, hygiene, academics, and we read girl oriented books during book club time. The program was so successful with the girls, Erika and I decided to make the program a non-profit organization in November 2007.

What is your educational background?

I have a BA in Elementary Education, a Master's Degree in Administration & Supervision and I am working on a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership. Erika has a BS in International Studies.

What compelled you both to create this organization? Where it is based?

The girls in our Baltimore City elementary school were having difficulty with being young ladies. Many of them had no parental support at home and no one to teach them how to properly take care of their bodies, attitudes and academics. Many of them did not value themselves or anything else. Being a part of this program changed their attitudes and their lives. The violence rate among girls in Baltimore City and most urban school districts has been steadily rising. This was our motivation for making the program available for girls living in urban settings such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, New York and Oakland.

What is the mission of Social Butterflies?

The Social Butterflies Mentoring Program gives business leaders the opportunity to invest in the lives of inner city girls to help them grow into confident, independent young women. Our mission is to motivate, inspire, and empower females by promoting self-esteem.

Recruiting volunteers to serve as mentors can be challenging for some programs. How do you recruit and retain mentors for your program?

We recruit mentors through Volunteer and Mentors.Org. In addition, we post flyers in local libraries, colleges, churches, and youth organizations. Our mentors go through a two hour initial training and must attend three other trainings throughout the year. We retain mentors by showing our appreciation and inviting mentors to all Social Butterflies events and activities for free.

Has your organization formed any partnerships with other non-profits, government or businesses?

We have a partnership with the Chris Webber Foundation, Mi-Chanel & Co. Studios, Baltimore Cares Mentoring Partnership, and the National Cares Mentoring Movement.

Share a success story.

Angel was a young lady whose mother was a prostitute. Angel had no one at home to teach her about being a lady. She often had issues with hygiene, self-esteem and academics. After participating in Social Butterflies weekly, Angel began to change her appearance by dressing lady- like and improving her hygiene. These behaviors, in turn increased her self-esteem and finally her academics. Although Social Butterflies, Inc. is not currently at the school Angel attends, she remembers the lessons from Social Butterflies. Most importantly, she remembers the love and care that she received from the group leaders.

Please share about your organization's Free to Be Me curriculum.

The Free to Be Me Curriculum was written so that all schools and youth serving organizations would have a standards based curriculum that would promote self-esteem and character development among girls. The curriculum contains 10 Book Club Novels, a Leader's Guide with 36 lesson plans, 20 Activity Books and 20 Journals. The lesson plans are written so that anyone from non-educators to experienced teachers could easily implement the curriculum. The curriculum is currently being used in Atlanta, Baltimore, New York and Oakland. The Free To Be Me Curriculum for Boys will be available in 2009. This curriculum will model the girls’ curriculum, but will contain lessons and topics pertaining to males ages 9-18.

If your school, organization or community group is interested in implementing this curriculum, contact Thomi Dates at or 1.866.232.7710 ext 401. Proceeds from the curriculum help support the Social Butterflies Programs and initiatives.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, December 7, 2008
Social Butterflies will have an Elegant Affair Fundraising Event at the Comfort Suites in Stockbridge, GA from 7:00 pm- 10:00 pm. The cost is $25.

Sunday, December 14, 2008
Social Butterflies will host an Etiquette Tea Party for all young ladies. The event will take place at the Comfort Suites in Stockbridge from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The cost is $5 for Social Butterflies Members and $10 for non-members.

For more information, visit the website at

{Thanks LaKeacha}

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where are the Black College Football Coaches?

There's only four of them.

From the LA Times [emphasis mine]:

"The number of African American head coaches in major college football is at its lowest total in 15 years, according to a study released Thursday -- a finding the NCAA's top diversity official described as "appalling."

With the firings in recent weeks of Washington's Tyrone Willingham and Kansas State's Ron Prince, just four black head coaches remain: Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom (in photo above), Buffalo's Turner Gill, Miami's Randy Shannon and Houston's Kevin Sumlin.

It is the smallest number since 1993, when three African Americans held top coaching posts in what is now called the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"It stands in such contrast to the optimism a few days ago when America elected its first African American president," said Richard Lapchick, co-author of the study, which was released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. "Not to compare the two [situations], but to slide back to such a low number at this time has to be bad news for college sports." Read the full article here.

Since this blog is all about giving back, how about helping our black coaches to win off the field! Liberty Mutual is looking for the coach of the year! Vote for your favorite coach to win $50,000 for his favorite charities.

From the National Football Foundation: "Whether building houses for the homeless or starting charities to help neighbors in need, today's college football coaches are making a meaningful impact in their communities. If your favorite coach is a community leader, you can help him win $50,000 for his favorite charities through the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Just visit, (**Contest has ended) cast your vote, and encourage members of your community to do the same by clicking on "Spread the Word," located on the upper right hand corner of the website's front page. A brief e-mail form will appear, allowing you to tell family, friends and fellow alumni to cast their votes.

By spreading the word in your community, you can help decide who should win this valuable support."

I glanced at the list of coaches on the website, and all four of the coaches listed above are included, as well as the coaches from Howard University, Morgan State, and many other HBCUs. Are these coaches leaders in your community? Let's vote for them and show our support!

Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images/LAT

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Honey Shine Mentoring Program Celebrates 2007-2008 Program Year at Private Luncheon

Tracy Wilson Mourning (left), wife of NBA star Alonzo Mourning and founder of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program, thanks members who work to empower young girls to shine as women
On the heels of another successful program year of making an impact on the lives of young girls across South Florida, the Honey Shine Mentoring Program rejoiced with a lovely members-only affair. On Tuesday, October 21, 2008, members also known as Lady Bugs of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program were invited to munch and mingle at a private champagne luncheon hosted by the organization’s founder, Tracy Wilson Mourning, in her own home.

Mourning announced Honey Shine’s calendar year achievements which included 158 young girls served throughout the 2007-2008 school year; 16 workshops and 5 field trips completed; a dramatic increase in the number of girls who attended the bi-weekly workshops; an increase in the length of Camp Honey Shine as well as the number of girls served; more than $225,000 generated through fundraising efforts; and much more. The young ladies, also known as Honey Bugs, are brought to Honey Shine through partner organizations such as Children’s Home Society of South Florida, Liberty City Church of Christ, Overtown Youth Center, and Thelma Gibson Health Initiative.

The Program recognized their 2008 Corporate Partners: Platinum – Aventura Mall, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Miccosukee Resort & Gaming; Gold – Publix; and Silver – Kidding Around. The generous sponsorship and grants awarded to Honey Shine over the past year were made possible by ING, Junior League of Miami, Publix Supermarkets Charities, Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade County (Bank of America and Macy’s), Nordstrom, and RUSH Philanthropic. In-kind support came from community partners such as Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Junior League of Miami, Boucher Brothers, Metro Signs, Inc., Michelle Revuelta PR, Inc., Strike-A-Pose, Armadillo Sound, Swim Kids, Paper Niche and Belle Fleur.

The Honey Shine Mentoring Program has kicked off an exciting 2008-2009 school year program and looks forward to ongoing increased success in the new year. For more information on how you can become a corporate or Lady Bug sponsor, call 305-476-0095 or visit

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hip Hop and Literacy in the News

The Urban League of Philadelphia announces the launch of Philly Hip-Hop Reader, an online program to promote literacy and encourage reading among Philadelphia-area middle and high school students. Sponsored by Verizon and in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, the program will promote literacy through music, specifically positive Hip Hop, based on its popularity with urban and suburban youth. Classic and modern literature, coupled with poetry and musical lyrics, have been incorporated into an interactive website.

How the program works: Students register on the website, which provides suggested reading, event information, video clips, and featured books to get students excited about reading. As students read at least one featured book per month, they can earn prizes such as music players, movie passes and gift cards. In order to receive prizes, students must be from participating schools, but any student can participate. The program is free, and a library card is required.

The program’s goals are for students to read at least one book per month (outside of their schoolwork), access the public library more often, and improve their reading level and/or literacy grade by one point. This month’s featured middle school book is ‘Harlem Hustle’ and for high school students, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens’.

Visit the website here.

ABOUT THE URBAN LEAGUE OF PHILADELPHIA: The Urban League of Philadelphia (ULP) is a non-profit, nonpartisan, civil rights and community-based movement that provides direct services, research and policy advocacy to help individuals and communities reach their fullest potential. Primarily working with African-Americans and other emerging ethnic communities, the ULP is an affiliate of the National Urban League. Visit them at Source: Press release

Hip Hop Speaks to Children
Via Award-winning poet and educator Nikki Giovanni has released an innovative anthology entitled Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat, aimed at introducing children to poetry, and nurturing a love of reading.

Already #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, the anthology combines pictures, words, and audio elements of poet performances to create a unique, interactive experience for young readers.

Giovanni, who has championed the African and African-American experience throughout her career, explained to that the project began as a way to take focus away from today’s negative Hip-Hop elements, and illuminate the culture’s sociological foundation.

“Though Hip-Hop has notorious elements these days, the art form, like poetry, began as part of the human experience, and has been used as a positive cultural force,” Giovanni detailed. “Originating with the African-American community, Hip-Hop was born using creativity to improve dismal circumstances.”

The collection displays 51 selections from 42 poets and performers, including A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Stetsasonic, SugarHill Gang, Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Although only in its first month of release, the anthology has garnered considerable praise from academics and is being utilized by teachers, librarians, and parents across the country.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat is available now in hardcover at all major book outlets. Source

Thursday, November 6, 2008

::NY Community Event: Black and Male in America::

The Open Society Institute's (OSI) Campaign for Black Male Achievement presents this town hall event, moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, celebrating the launch of The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life (Atria), edited by acclaimed author and community activist Kevin Powell. Powell and a panel featuring a number of the book’s contributors will discuss the spiritual, mental, and physical components of being a black male in America. A question-and-answer period with the audience will follow. The town hall is free and open to the public.

The Black Male Handbook features essays by influential black male educators, activists, and correspondents, including writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt, actor and author Hill Harper, and author and educator Dr. William Jelani Cobb.

Contact: Georgia Kirtland,
See related post here.

Source: OSI

Alicia Keys Celebrity Charity Auction To Support Keep A Child Alive

Alicia Keys and many of her celebrity friends are coming together for a star-studded celebrity charity auction launching on November 5th to benefit Keep A Child Alive. See auction here. The list of celebrity ambassadors for Keep a Child Alive is as extensive as it is impressive and they are urging others to support the fight against AIDS in Africa.

Join Alicia and celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Bill Cosby, Britney Spears, Russell Crowe, Rachel Ray, Kirsten Dunst, Magic Johnson, Forest Whitaker, Jenny McCarthy, Josh Brolin, Denzel Washington, the NY Giants and many more as they come together to raise support and money for an inspiring cause.

The celebrity inspired auction features numerous items that have been generously donated by some of Hollywood’s most talented and brightest stars with big hearts. Bidders have a chance to win hot items such as VIP tickets to the Black Ball hosted by Alicia Keys and Iman on November 13th in NY. This auction package ends Monday, November 10th, so make sure to get your high bid in early.

Other auction packages include autographed American Gangster posters and scripts from Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, signed High School Musical poster from Vanessa Hudgens, 2 signed DVD’s of the Nanny Diaries from Scarlett Johansson, a signed Alex Rodriguez jersey, spending a day with Bonnie and Thor, the reigning King and Queen of Tweens, signed Brooks & Dunn jean jacket and photograph, a signed “How I Met Your Mother” script from Britney Spears, and many more items from celebrities such as Marlon Wayans, Mariska Hargirtay, Rick Fox, Tyler Perry, Channing Tatum, the Cheetah Girls, Ryan Seacrest, Dwayne Wade, Julian McMahon and others! This group of auction packages and many others end on November 15th.

This auction is crucial for saving the lives of millions of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. AIDS is a growing epidemic in Africa and has left nearly 13 million children orphans, young mothers without children, and husbands without wives. The proceeds from this auction will help provide communities with life-saving medication, support, and orphan care to keep children and families alive. Keep a Child Alive is a global initiative to help those who cannot help themselves; bidders are urged to take a stand against this fatal disease and help make a difference. For more information, please visit

About Keep a Child Alive

KEEP A CHILD ALIVE is an urgent response to the AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa. With 28 million already dead, the disease continues, wiping out whole societies, threatening economic infrastructure and creating tragic devastation in the family structure.

To learn more about KEEP A CHILD ALIVE, please visit their website at

{Thanks Sanchia}

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photos of the Day: Barack Obama Edition

President elect Barack Obama at Grant Park, Chicago, November 4, 2008

Many of you know that this is not the first time that Obama has made history being the first black president! While a student at Harvard Law School, Obama was elected the first black president of Harvard's Law Review, its prestigious student-run law journal. He recalled in an interview with the LA Times about the moment he found out: "Before I could say a word, another black student who was running just came up and grabbed me and hugged me real hard," Obama recalled. "It was then that I knew it was more than just about me. It was about us. And I am walking through a lot of doors that had already been opened by others."
Receiving such an honor would have allowed him a guaranteed position with a law firm of his choice, or a clerkship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, he chose neither, opting to dedicate his career to community service. It is my hope that Obama's commitment to community service will inspire us all to give back to our communities.
Oprah Winfrey is interviewed at Obama's victory celebration, Grant Park, Chicago, November 4, 2008.

Celebrities campaign for Obama: Russell Simmons, Sean 'Jay-Z' Carter and Sean 'Diddy' Combs at a 'Last Chance for Change' rally in Florida, November 2, 2008.
Celebrating Obama's victory at the Hyatt Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles, November 4, 2008.
Photos: AP & Wireimage; Source: LA Times Blog